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mdxi (4658)

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Journal of mdxi (4658)

Saturday March 27, 2004
10:57 PM


[ #18092 ]

I've mentioned my book collecting earlier. In addition to old textbooks, I also collect pre-WWII books on Japan and China. This evening I was perusing "Castles In Japan", one of the Japan Tourist Library series put out between the early 1930s and the beginning of WWII by the precursor to JR.

I had never noticed that this volume bore an inscription on the inside front cover, which read: "Yokohama, Japan, June 13, 1942 -- Frederick Justin Mann". My initial thought was that this must be some sort of mistake; surely there were no Americans in Japan in the middle of 1942!

However, I realized that I had a reference at hand which could answer that much of the question of the book's provenance: were there Americans in Japan in mid-1942? I turned to my (first printing! (hey, gimme a break, I don't have too much stuff I can brag about)) copy of Ten Years In Japan (hereafter TYIJ) by Joseph C. Grew.

Grew was the US ambassador to Japan from 1932 to 1942 and acting Secretary of State for most of 1945. TYIJ, initially published in 1944, is his diary of his experiences as ambassador, and it is an excellent primary document. Not only does Grew write of his own feelings and first-hand observations of events, he also includes newspaper articles, speech transcripts, and messages from other persons on the scene. Fascinating reading, but very dense and I haven't read much of it as I'll have to read the whole thing at least once while doing OCR on it.

Grew's last entry made while in Japan is dated May 31, 1942, and states that there were 63 people at the Embassy at that time. Additionally, the May 30 entry states that the Embassy staff is scheduled for departure (on a Japanese ship, via Shanghai and Saigon) on June 18, but no mention of the actual date of departure is made.

Still, having established that there were Americans in Tokyo in June of 1942, I became curious about exactly who Frederick Justin Mann might be. TYIJ has a year-to-year listing of Japanese officials and foreign diplomats, but only high-ranking persons are listed and there is no Mann in the American listing for 1942. A slightly more modern resource, Google, shows nothing of interest. Of course, nothing says that Mann was an American. He could have been British, or possibly even German, but no match is found in TYIJ for those naionalities either. And Occam's Razor says he was American, since I live in the US and purchased the book from someone else living here.

As a final note, I find it absolutely fascinating that Grew actually saw Doolittle's Raid on Tokyo. I have reproduced that entry here. Best bit: "They appeared too large to have come from an aircraft carrier..."

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