Rethinking Postwar Japanese Culture as Cold War Culture: The Remarkable Life and Times of Jiuji 'George' Kasai, AB'13


One hundred years ago, on June 3, 1913, Jiuji “George” Kasai, AB'13, delivered an address at Mandel Hall on “The Mastery of the Pacific.” The talk, a denunciation of the ongoing anti-Japanese exclusion movement and an emotional call for U.S.-Japanese friendship, was awarded the Julius Rosenwald Prize for Excellence in Oratory. The speech and prize caused a sensation and were widely reported in the press. Kasai went on to a remarkable career. He served as a member of Japan’s parliament and revisited campus in the autumn of 1941 to speak at the University’s fiftieth anniversary ceremonies; he was in the U.S. at the time as a member of the Japanese delegation sent in a last-minute attempt to head off war between the two countries. After the war, he worked closely with American Occupation authorities, becoming a leading figure in anti-communist cultural activities. In 1950 he became the first Japanese citizen to be given an exit visa to travel abroad and again traveled to Hyde Park to speak on campus (he would return once more in 1963). This talk will trace Kasai's remarkable career, exploring what it tells us about U.S.-Japan cultural relations during the Cold War period.