The Info List - Edwin O. Reischauer

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EDWIN OLDFATHER REISCHAUER (October 15, 1910 – September 1, 1990) was an American educator and professor at Harvard University
Harvard University
. He was a leading scholar of the history and culture of Japan and East Asia. A former student, James C. Thomson, Jr. , brought his name to the attention of Chester Bowles , the new Under Secretary of State for newly elected John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
. Kennedy appointed him as the United States Ambassador to Japan (1961–1966).


* 1 Early life and education * 2 Teaching career * 3 Personal life * 4 Later life * 5 Romanization of Korean

* 6 US policymaker

* 6.1 World War II
World War II
and afterward * 6.2 Myth of saving Kyoto
* 6.3 US bases in Okinawa

* 7 Illness and death * 8 Selected bibliography * 9 Honors * 10 Notable students * 11 See also * 12 References * 13 Sources * 14 External links


Reischauer was born in Tokyo, Japan , the son of Presbyterian educational missionaries Helen Sidwell Oldfather and August Karl Reischauer. He attended the American School in Japan and graduated with a B.A. from Oberlin in 1931. On his 75th birthday, he recalled publicly that his aim in life in 1931 was to draw attention to Asia

He earned his Ph.D.
from Harvard University
Harvard University
in 1939. He was a student of the Russian-French Japanologist Serge Elisséeff , who had been the first Western graduate of the University of Tokyo
. His doctoral dissertation was "Nittō guhō junrei gyōki: Ennin's Diary of His Travels in T'ang China, 838–847", a study and translation of the Japanese monk Ennin 's travelogues on his journeys in China during the Tang dynasty
Tang dynasty
. Ennin's work, Record of a Pilgrimage to China in Search of the Law (入唐求法巡礼行記; Middle Chinese
Middle Chinese
: Nyip-Dang gjuw-pjop zwin-léi hæng-kì), is written in Classical Chinese , and Reischauer's work demonstrates the high level of Sinological scholarship that a student was expected to demonstrate tiger.


His teaching career of 40 years was spent at Harvard, where he and John King Fairbank developed a popular undergraduate survey of East Asian history and culture. The course, which was known as "Rice Paddies," was the basis for their widely-influential two textbooks, East Asia: The Great Tradition (1958) and East Asia: The Modern Transformation (1965). Reischauer wrote both for fellow scholars and for the general public, including Japan: Story of a Nation, which appeared in several editions. He served as director of the Harvard–Yenching Institute and chairman of the Department of Far Eastern Languages. In a farewell lecture at the Yenching Institute in 1981, students had to compete for seats with faculty colleagues, university officials, and a television crew from Japan.

In that crowded scene, he said, "As I remember, there were only two graduate students interested in East Asian studies when I first came here: myself and my brother."


On January 17, 1955, Reischauer's wife, (Elinor) Adrienne Danton Reischauer, died of a heart ailment. They had married in Tokyo
on July 5, 1935. Thus, he was a widower with three children in August 1955 when author James A. Michener
James A. Michener
introduced him to Haru M. Reischauer at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Tokyo, who would become his second wife on January 16, 1956. It turned out that as teenagers, they had gone to the same Tokyo
high school, where she had had a secret crush on him. Both became a formidable team. The Belmont, Massachusetts
Belmont, Massachusetts
, house that they designed together is maintained and used today as the Edwin O. Reischauer Memorial House
Edwin O. Reischauer Memorial House


In 1973, he was the founding Director of the Japan Institute, which was renamed the Edwin O. Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies in his honor when he turned 75, in 1985.

Reischauer was also honored in 1985 by the opening of the Edwin O. Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), part of Johns Hopkins University . Speaking at the dedication ceremonies in Baltimore
, Senator Jay Rockefeller
Jay Rockefeller
, one of Reischauer's former students, described Reischauer as being "what a teacher is meant to be, one who can change the life of his students." At the same event, Japan's ambassador, Nabuo Matsunaga, read a personal message from Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone
Yasuhiro Nakasone
: "I know of no other man who has so thoroughly understood Japan."


With George M. McCune , Reischauer in 1939 published the McCune–Reischauer
system for romanization of the Korean language
Korean language
, which became the most-widely used system for many years.

Reischauer called Hangul
, the Korean alphabet, "perhaps the most scientific system of writing in general use in any language."


Reischauer promoted US foreign policy both in public and in government on Japan the rest of Asia
after World War II
World War II
and during the Vietnam War
Vietnam War


On September 14, 1942, three years before the end of World War II, Reischauer, then an instructor in Far Eastern languages at Harvard University, wrote the "Memorandum on Policy towards Japan." It laid out a plan on how the US could attain its postwar objective of "winning the peace" in Asia. According to Japanese historian Takashi Fujitani, the memo revealed a "condescension toward Japanese people" and a "purely instrumentalist and manipulative stance." In the abstract to his article, "The Reischauer Memo: Mr. Moto, Hirohito, and Japanese American Soldiers," Fujitani wrote:

Already at this early date in the war, Reischauer proposed retention of the Japanese emperor as head of a postwar “puppet regime” that would serve U.S. interests in East Asia
. He also argued that Japanese Americans had until then been a “sheer liability” and that the United States could turn them into an “asset” by enlisting them in the U.S. military. He reasoned that Japanese American soldiers would be useful for propaganda purposes – that is, to demonstrate to the world and particularly the “yellow and brown peoples” that the United States was not a racist nation.


During the war, Reischauer was a Japan expert for the US Army Intelligence Service , and a myth developed after the war that he prevented the nuclear bombing of Kyoto
. That tale was passed along by Robert Jungk
Robert Jungk
, who claimed that Reischauer convinced his boss to persuade Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson
Henry L. Stimson
not to bomb Kyoto
and to have it crossed off the black list. Reischauer specifically denied that popular myth:

I probably would have done this if I had ever had the opportunity, but there is not a word of truth to it. As has been amply proved by my friend Otis Cary of Doshisha in Kyoto, the only person deserving credit for saving Kyoto
from destruction is Henry L. Stimson, the Secretary of War at the time, who had known and admired Kyoto
ever since his honeymoon there several decades earlier.


A "secret" memorandum, declassified in 1996, detailing the conversation among top US military and civilian officials on July 16, 1965 in Tokyo, revealed a plan put forward by Reischauer, then serving as the US Ambassador to Japan , to enable the US both to keep its military bases to introduce nuclear weapons in Okinawa
after the reversion of the US-occupied islands to Japanese sovereignty. Reischauer based his strategy on the symbolic political importance of reversion for Japan's conservative ruling party but argued that the US did not have to "give Japan any real say in the use of our bases."

He said that "if Japan would accept nuclear weapons on Japanese soil, including Okinawa
, and if it would provide us with assurances guaranteeing our military commanders effective control of the islands in time of military crisis, then we would be able to keep our bases on the islands, even though 'full sovereignty' reverted to Japan."

All that "became key elements the 1969 U.S.-Japan Okinawa
Reversion Agreement," effectively making "U.S. military presence more or less permanent and maintaining the option to introduce nuclear weapons." Reischauer himself confirmed that according to a 1981 article in Time :

Since the 1950s, Japan's Liberal Democratic government has solemnly and repeatedly affirmed three basic principles about nuclear weapons: not to make them, possess them or allow them into the country. In 1960, with the signing of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty, Washington agreed not to "introduce" nuclear weapons into Japan. Two weeks ago, however, former U.S. Ambassador to Japan Edwin O. Reischauer
Edwin O. Reischauer
revealed that the two countries have ever since been living a convenient lie. In an interview with Tokyo's Mainichi Shimbun
Mainichi Shimbun
, Reischauer asserted that U.S. naval vessels carrying nuclear weapons have routinely visited Japanese ports—with Tokyo's tacit approval.

The secret memo also revealed Reischauer's proposed countermeasures to quell "nationalistic reaction" to continuing US military presence in Okinawa. In his article, "'Secret' 1965 Memo Reveals Plans to Keep U.S. bases and Nuclear Weapons Options in Okinawa
After Reversion," Steve Rabson, former US Army
US Army
draftee in Okinawa
in 1967 and 1968 and now author and lecturer on Okinawan literature, history, and culture, wrote:

To reduce the risk of “disturbances” in Okinawa, Reischauer proposed an increase in U.S. aid, revision of the Price Act to increase compensation for owners of land the U.S. had seized for base construction, and a loosening of the ban on flying the Japanese flag. It is difficult to measure precisely his influence at the time, but all three of these recommendations became U.S. policy.


In 1964, while serving as Ambassador to Japan, Reischauer was stabbed in an assassination attempt. His attacker was captured and deemed by authorities to be mentally disturbed. He apparently acted alone and had no connection to any group or cause. In the aftermath of the violence, Japan's Minister of Public Safety was compelled to resign.

Reischauer received a blood transfusion and recovered from his wound, but the transfusion infected him with hepatitis for the rest of his life. Although he continued to work and lead an active life, he eventually died from the complications of hepatitis.


In a statistical overview derived from writings by and about Reischauer, OCLC
/ WorldCat
encompasses roughly more than 300 works in more than 1000 publications in 18 languages and more than 23,000 library holdings. This is a dynamic list and may never be able to satisfy particular standards for completeness. You can help by expanding it with reliably sourced entries.

* The Romanization of the Korean language, Based Upon Its Phonetic Structure (1939) with G. M. McCune * Elementary Japanese for University Students (1942) with S. Elisséeff * Japan, Past and Present (1946; rev. ed. 1963) * The United States and Japan (1950; rev. ed. 1957, 1965) * Translations from Early Japanese Literature (1951) with Joseph Yamagiwa * Ennin's Travels in T'ang China (1955) * Ennin\'s Diary: The Record of a Pilgrimage to China in Search of the Law (1955), translated from Chinese * Wanted: An Asian Policy (1955) * Our Asian Frontiers of Knowledge (1958) * East Asia: The Great Tradition (1960) with J. K. Fairbank * East Asia, The Modern Transformation (1965) with J. K. Fairbank and A. M. Craig * A History of East Asian Civilization (1965) * Beyond Vietnam: The United States and Asia
(1968) * Japan: The Story of a Nation (1970; rev. ed. 1981, 1990) * A New Look at Modern History (1972) * Translations from Early Japanese Literature (1972) with Joseph K. Yamagiwa * Toward the 21st century: Education for a Changing World (1973) * East Asia, Tradition and Transformation (1973; rev. ed. 1989) with J. K. Fairbank and A. M. Craig * The Japanese (1977) * My Life between Japan and America (1986, autobiography) * The United States and Japan in 1986: Can the Partnership Work? (1986) * The Japanese Today: Change and Continuity (1988) * Japan, Tradition and Transformation (1989)


* Japan Foundation
Japan Foundation
Award, 1975 * Edwin O. Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies (RIJS) at Harvard, 1985 * Edwin O. Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies at Johns Hopkins, 1984. * Edwin O. Reischauer Lectures , series of lectures from 1986 on


* Gail Lee Bernstein , ( University of Arizona
University of Arizona
) * Albert M. Craig (Harvard University) * John W. Dower , ( Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
) * John Curtis Perry
John Curtis Perry
(The Fletcher School , Tufts University ) * Sen. Jay Rockefeller
Jay Rockefeller


* Japan portal * United States portal

* Edwin O. Reischauer Memorial House
Edwin O. Reischauer Memorial House
* McCune–Reischauer
romanization * Ennin\'s Diary: The Record of a Pilgrimage to China in Search of the Law


* ^ My Life between Japan and America by Edwin O. Reischauer, John Weatherhill, Inc., pp. 162-163 * ^ "Edwin O. Reischauer". Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, Harvard University. Archived from the original on 2014-07-04. Retrieved July 17, 2014. * ^ A B "Reischauer is Feted in Capital". The New York Times. October 16, 1985. * ^ A B Zurndorfer, Harriet Thelma. (1995). China Bibliography: A Research Guide to Reference Works About China Past and Present, p. 31 n85. * ^ Schulman, Frank Joseph. (1970). Japan and Korea: An Annotated Bibliography of Doctoral Dissertations in Western Languages, 1877–1969, p. 909. (Reischauer 1610) * ^ Edwin O. Reischauer
Edwin O. Reischauer
(1939). Nittō Guhō Junrei Gyōki: Ennin's Diary of His Travels in T'ang China (838-847) (Book)format= requires url= (help ) (Ph.D.). OCLC
76996908 . * ^ Johnston, Laurie and Robert Thomas. "Notes on People; Reischauer, at Harvard, Gives Farewell Lecture, New York Times. April 23, 1981. * ^ My Life between Japan and America by Edwin O. Reischauer, John Weatherhill, Inc., p.137 * ^ My Life between Japan and America by Edwin O. Reischauer, John Weatherhill, Inc., p. 57 * ^ My Life between Japan and America by Edwin O. Reischauer, John Weatherhill, Inc., p.140 * ^ My Life between Japan and America by Edwin O. Reischauer, John Weatherhill, Inc., p. 142 * ^ "Haru M. Reischauer, 83; Eased Tensions With Japan," New York Times. October 5, 1998. * ^ Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies (RIJS), Director, 1974–1981 * ^ G. M. A. McCune, E. O. Reischauer, Royal Asiatic Society. Korea Branch, The Romanization of the Korean Language: Based Upon Its Phonetic Structure (Korea Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1939). * ^ Hyun, Peter. "A Trove of Unfamiliar Art from Korea," New York Times. January 4, 1981. * ^ Rabson, Steve. "\'Secret\' 1965 Memo Reveals Plans to Keep US bases and Nuclear Weapons Options in Okinawa
After Reversion", The Asia-Pacific Journal, 5-1-10, February 1, 2010 * ^ Fujitani, T (2001). "The Reischauer Memo: Mr. Moto, and Japanese American Soldiers". Critical Asian Studies. 33 (3): 379–402. doi :10.1080/14672710122556 . * ^ A B C Rabson 2010 * ^ "THE REISCHAUER MEMO: Mr. Moto, Hirohito, and Japanese American Soldiers". Critical Asian Studies. 33: 379–402. doi :10.1080/14672710122556 . * ^ Kelly, Jason M. (2012). "Why Did Henry Stimson Spare Kyoto
from the Bomb? Confusion in Postwar Historiography". Journal of American-East Asian Relations. 19: 183–203. doi :10.1163/18765610-01902004 . * ^ Jungk, Robert. (1959). Brighter Than a Thousand Suns: A personal history of the atomic scientists, p. 178. * ^ Reischauer, Edwin. (1986). My Life Between Japan And America, p. 101. * ^ "Memorandum of Conversation: U.S. Policy in the Ryukyu Islands". July 16, 1965. Record Number 79651 * ^ "Japan: Time to Confess, Nuclear \'Lie\' Strains U.S. Ties", Time, June 8, 1981 * ^ Ford, Franklin L. (1987). Political Murder: From Tyrannicide to Terrorism. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University
Harvard University
Press. p. 310. ISBN 0674686365 . Retrieved 24 August 2012. * ^ "Edwin O. Reischauer, Japan Expert, Dies," The Harvard Crimson. September 10, 1990. * ^ WorldCat
Identities Archived December 30, 2010, at the Wayback Machine .: Reischauer, Edwin O. (Edwin Oldfather) 1910–1990 * ^ Japan Foundation * ^ RIJS named in his honor when he turned 75 in 1985. * ^ Nitze School for Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies


* Chapin, Emerson. "Edwin Reischauer, Diplomat and Scholar, Dies at 79," New York Times. September 2, 1990. * Deptula, Nancy Monteith and Michael M. Hess. (1996). The Edwin O. Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies: A Twenty-Year Chronicle. Cambridge: Reischauer Institute, Harvard University. * Haberman, Clyde. "Books, East and West: My Life Between Japan and America by Edwin O. Reischauer," New York Times. August 20, 1986. * McDowell, Edwin. "Major Encyclopedia on Japan Written In English." New York Times. October 11, 1983. * Packard, George R. Edwin O. Reischauer
Edwin O. Reischauer
and the American Discovery of Japan (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010). ISBN 0-231-14354-0 * Rabson, Steve. "\'Secret\' 1965 Memo Reveals Plans to Keep U.S. bases and Nuclear Weapons Options in Okinawa
After Reversion", The Asia-Pacific Journal, 5-1-10, February 1, 2010. * Reischauer, Edwin. (1986). My Life Between Japan And America. New York: Harper " rowspan="1">Preceded by Douglas MacArthur II UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO JAPAN 1961–1966 Succeeded by U. Alexis Johnson

* v * t * e

United States Ambassadors to Japan


* Harris * Pruyn * Van Valkenburgh * DeLong

Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary

* DeLong * Bingham * Hubbard * Swift * Coombs * Dun * Buck * Griscom

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary

* Wright * O\'Brien * Bryan * Anderson * Guthrie * Moris * Warren * Woods * Bancroft * MacVeagh * Castle * Forbes * Grew * Murphy * Allison * MacArthur * Reischauer * Johnson * Meyer * Ingersoll * Hodgson * Mansfield * Armacost * Mondale * Foley * Baker * Schieffer * Roos * Kennedy * Hagerty

* v * t * e

Presidents of the Association for Asian Studies


* Arthur W. Hummel Sr.
Arthur W. Hummel Sr.
(1948) * Charles S. Gardner (1949)


* Harold S. Quigley (1950) * Robert B. Hall (1951) * Rupert Emerson (1952) * Felix M. Keesing (1953) * Kenneth Scott Latourette (1954) * Edwin O. Reischauer
Edwin O. Reischauer
(1955) * L. Carrington Goodrich (1956) * Hugh Borton (1957) * John K. Fairbank (1958) * George B. Cressey (1959)


* W. Norman Brown (1960) * Lauriston Sharp (1961) * Earl H. Pritchard (1962) * William W. Lockwood (1963) * Arthur F. Wright (1964) * Knight Biggerstaff (1965) * Karl J. Pelzer (1966) * John Whitney Hall (1967) * Holden Furber (1968) * Wm. Theodore de Bary (1969)


* Cora DuBois (1970) * C. Martin Wilbur (1971) * Robert E. Ward (1972) * George T. Kahin (1973) * Richard D. Lambert (1974) * Ping-ti Ho (1975) * Marius B. Jansen (1976) * John M. Echols (1977) * Richard L. Park (1978) * Benjamin I. Schwartz (1979)


* Eleanor Jorden (1980) * Paul Wheatley (1981) * Ainslie T. Embree (1982) * G. William Skinner (1983) * James William Morley (1984) * Frank H. Golay (1985) * Susanne Hoeber Rudolph (1986) * Rhoads Murphey (1987) * Robert J. Smith (1988) * Stanley J. Tambiah (1989)


* Barbara Stoler Miller (1990) * Albert Feuerwerker (1991) * Tetsuo Najita (1992) * David K. Wyatt (1993) * Barbara Daly Metcalf (1994) * Evelyn Sakakida Rawski (1995) * Carol Gluck (1996) * James Scott (1997) * Wendy Doniger
Wendy Doniger
(1998) * Susan L. Mann (1999)


* Peter Duus (2000) * Charles F. Keyes (2001) * David Ludden (2002) * James L. Watson (2003) * Mary Elizabeth Berry (2004) * Barbara Watson Andaya (2005) * Anand Yang (2006) * Elizabeth J. Perry (2007) * Robert Buswell (2008) * Robert W. Hefner (2009)


* K. Sivaramakrishnan (2010) * Gail Hershatter (2011) * Ted Bestor (2012) * Thongchai Winichakul (2013) * Mrinalini Sinha (2014) * Timothy Brook
Timothy Brook
(2015) * Laurel Kendall (2016) * Katherine Bowie (2017)


* WorldCat
Identities * VIAF : 108354 * LCCN : n80040534 * ISNI : 0000 0001 2117 338X * GND : 107063654 * SUDOC : 033819726 * BNF : cb12463855k (data) * NDL : 00453947 * NKC : jn19990006940 * IATH