Paul K. Maruyama was a member of the US Olympic Judo Team at an historic moment: the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. It was at these Games that judo debuted as an Olympic sport, and the Tokyo Olympiad was a moment of intense pride for Japan, coming just 19 years after the nation’s defeat in World War II. By conflict’s end, Tokyo had been heavily damaged by Allied bombers and more than 100,000 of the city’s residents had been killed.
It was a desperate time.
Maruyama knows this because he was there—both in Manchuria before the end of the war and in Tokyo afterwards. In the closing days of WWII, the Soviet Union attacked and occupied Japanese-controlled northern China, then called Manchuria. Misery and death from cold, hunger, disease, and brutality descended on Japanese civilians in the region and about 2,500 Japanese—mostly children and the elderly—died daily. Three courageous Japanese men who were stuck in Manchuria, including Paul Maruyama’s father, Kunio, embarked on a secret mission and escaped to Japan where they eventually brought an end to the Manchurian nightmare.
In his riveting book Escape from Manchuria: The Rescue of 1.7 Million Japanese Civilians Trapped in Soviet-controlled Manchuria Following the End of World War II, Mr. Maruyama tells the compelling story of the rescue and repatriation of these abandoned non-combatant Japanese that began almost a year after Japan’s surrender. He will recount how his father and two compatriots escaped, made it to Japan, and convinced General Douglas MacArthur to repatriate their fellow countrymen. The heroics of the three men have not been fully recognized—even in Japan—because they took on the mission of rescue as private citizens, without the consent or knowledge of the then-helpless Japanese government. The book was the source of an award-winning two-part NHK drama entitled Doko ni mo Nai Kuni (A Country That Is Nowhere) that aired in March of this year.
Read this bio for more information about the speaker.
ACCJ Olympics & Sports Business Committee
David Hackett, Naoki Matsumura, Roy Tomizawa, Co-Chairs
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