Edwin O. Reischauer

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Edwin Oldfather Reischauer (October 15, 1910September 1, 1990) was Tokyo-born U.S. ambassador to Japan (1961–66) and the co-developer, with George M. McCune, of the McCune-Reischauer romanization of Korean.

He graduated with a B.A. from Oberlin in 1931 and received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1939. Most of his teaching career was spent at Harvard, where he was the director of the Harvard-Yenching Institute and chairman of the Department of Far Eastern Languages. At Harvard, he was the founder of the Japan Institute, which was renamed the Edwin O. Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies (http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~rijs/) in 1985 in his honor.

During World War II, he was the Japan expert for the US Army Intelligence Service, where he is said to have performed one of the finest acts in service of humanity during the war, as recounted by Robert Jungk in Brighter Than a Thousand Suns: A personal history of the atomic scientists, (NY: Harcourt Brace, 1958) page 178:

"On the short list of targets for the atom bomb, in addition to Hiroshima, Kokura and Nigata, was the Japanese city of temples, Kyoto. When the expert on Japan, Professor Edwin O. Reischauer, heard this terrible news, he rushed into the office of his chief, Major Alfred MacCormack, in a department of the Army Intelligence Service. The shock caused him to burst into tears. MacCormack, a cultivated and humane New York lawyer, thereupon managed to persuade Secretary of War Stimson to reprieve Kyoto and have it crossed off the black list."

Whether this incident actually took place as Jungk describes is a matter of some dispute.

See also

ja:エドウィン・O・ライシャワー

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