John Young

Obituary of John Young

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Dr. John Young, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Seton Hall University, Founding Member and Executive Counselor of Committee of 100, scholar, historian, linguist and former diplomat, died of congestive heart failure on September 8 at the age of 93. He was born in Tianjin, China but accompanied his Chinese diplomat family to their posting in Japan and received his early education at the French L'Ecole du Matin and the elite First Imperial High School (Ichiko),graduating from Tokyo Imperial University in 1942. When Japan invaded China, he escaped back to China and walked through war-torn China for three months to join the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the wartime capital of Chongqing. One of his responsibilities was to radio broadcast in Japanese exhortations to Japanese anti-war activists and soldiers in China to fight against Japanese aggression. He had the rare occasion to interpret for Mao Zedong and Kaji Wataru, a leader of the anti-Japanese aggression group. Immediately after the Japanese surrender, he accompanied the American team of lawyers and military officers, including General Douglas MacArthur, to travel throughout China to collect evidence for the Allied Military Tribunal established to prosecute Japanese war crimes in Tokyo and was part of the team at the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP) that wrote the first draft of the Japanese Constitution. In 1946 he was assigned to Washington, DC, to serve as a member and Secretary of the Chinese Delegation to the Far East Commission, charged with establishing occupation policy on Japan and reconstruction designs for post-war Japan. During that time he also received an BSFS and MSFS in International Relations at Georgetown University, and in 1949 when the Communists took over power from the Nationalists he stayed in the United States and taught at Georgetown while pursuing his studies at Johns Hopkins University, receiving his PhD in History in 1956. His books The Location of Yamatai: A case Study in Japanese Historiography 720-1945 (Johns Hopkins Press, 1957) and The Research Activities of the South Manchurian Railway Company (Columbia University Press, 1966 were seminal works on what were very controversial topics. He taught at Georgetown University, where he eventually served as Distinguished Professor, and at the University of Maryland in Japan, where he co-authored Learn Japanese- College Text, the single most widely used college Japanese language textbook of the time. He subsequently chaired the Department of Asian and Pacific Languages at the University of Hawaii, where he created the Junior Year Program scholarships for transfer students who did not have Asian language programs at their universities, as well as innovative Japanese language courses utilizing contemporary Japanese films and a speaker program with guest lectures by prominent Japanese writers such as Yasunari Kawabata, the first Japanese Nobel Prize winner in literature. He was Director of the Asian Bilingual Curriculum Development Center at the U.S. Department of Education and also taught at Seton Hall University as Distinguished University Professor and Director of the Institute of Far Eastern Studies, and in 1990 became Distinguished Professor Emeritus. Professor Young was a Co-Founder of the Chinese Language Teachers' Association and Senior Advisor to Kawaijuku Institute for Culture and Education. For his contributions to international relations and Japanese culture, he received from the Japanese Emperor the Order of the Rising Sun. Professor Young was a Founding Member of the Committee of 100, a group of prominent Chinese-Americans including I.M. Pei, Yo-Yo Ma and others who organized after the 1989 Tiananmen Incident to provide a voice for Chinese-Americans in the U.S. He served as its Executive Director and later as Executive Counselor. He is survived by his wife Byoung-Hye Chang, his daughters Alice Young and Nancy Young, his son Peter Young, his brothers George Yang and Jackson Yang, and 5 grandchildren.
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John Young

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John Young

1920 - 2013

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