Two giants just left us. One in the US, the other in Tokyo. One was academic and the other was a businessman. The two had commonalities. They were both 90 years old and well-known leaders in their fields. But more importantly, they dedicated themselves and left big steps in Japan-US relations. Of course, I am talking about Professor Ezra Vogel of Harvard University and Mr. Minoru Ben Makihara, former Chairman of Mitsubishi Corporation and an advisor to our Association.
Professor Vogel wrote his famous “Japan as Number One: Lessons for America” in 1979. This, unfortunately, did not happen but nonetheless encouraged Japanese. He made many friends in Japan including in the political field, business people, academics, and opinion leaders. Because of his friendly and open attitude, Japanese students at Harvard flocked to his house in Cambridge. I was impressed that he himself made coffee for us when we visited him from Washington DC just like Ambassador Mansfield did for us. Two years ago his former students welcomed Professor Vogel on the occasion of the BEIJU celebration of his 88th birthday. I was fortunate enough to be there as well. Below is the photo of the occasion.
Ben Makihara was also a great contributor to Japan-US relations. Graduated from St. Paul’s School and Harvard nearly 70 years ago, he spoke very refined English fluently. He was a longtime leader of both the Trilateral Commission and Japan-US Business Council.
Both giants contributed greatly to bring up the younger generation.
Mr. Makihara lead CULCON (The United States－Japan Conference on Cultural and Education Interchange) and Dr. Vogel opened his house for the Vogel -Jyuku.
We all miss them. Let us carry their torch and wish that they rest peacefully in heaven.