Cecil Uyehara was born in London, one of three brothers. His father was Andrew Shigeru Uyehara, a Japanese diplomat who was a graduate of the London School of Economics, and who later served as president of Tokyo English College. Cecil’s mother was Vera Eugenie Foxwell, a British woman. When Cecil was young, the family moved to Shanghai, where they lived in the International Settlement, and Shigeru served as deputy commissioner of the municipal police force. Cecil attended a British-run secondary school, where he specialized in Latin. He spoke exclusively in English, both at school and at home, though he learned some rudimentary Japanese during the family’s annual summer holidays in Japan. In 1941, shortly before Japan entered the Pacific War, Uyehara’s father moved the family to Tokyo—he wished to return to England, but with Europe embroiled in World War II it was not possible. Once in Japan, Cecil enrolled at the elite Keimei Gakuen, where he mastered the Japanese language. He did so well that in 1943, after just two years of Japanese study, he was enrolled at Keio University, where he majored in political science. As Japan’s war effort grew more desperate, however, he was conscripted into national service. In 1944, Uyehara was assigned work in a shipyard, where he worked for a year. The following year, shortly before the end of the war, he was drafted into the Japanese Army.
...Uyehara attracted controversy when he wrote a letter to the Washington Post urging reconsideration of use of the atomic bomb and deplored the “Unfortunate experiments” with the H-bomb. Following completion of that project, he and a group of colleagues received a grant from the Ford Foundation to study Japanese socialism.
In 1948, thanks to a US Army officer in the Japanese Occupation who in civilian life was a dean at the University of Minnesota, Uyehara was able to secure a scholarship there, and migrated to the United States to attend school. After receiving his MA in Political Science in 1951, Uyehara was hired by the Library of Congress, and assigned to catalogue and classify seized Japanese government documents. His first publication, “Checklist of Archives in the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tokyo, Japan, 1868-1945,” appeared in 1954. That same year, Uyehara attracted controversy when he wrote a letter to the Washington Post urging reconsideration of use of the atomic bomb and deplored the “Unfortunate experiments” with the H-bomb. Following completion of that project, he and a group of colleagues received a grant from the Ford Foundation to study Japanese socialism. His article, “The Social Democratic Movement,” appeared in an all-Japan volume of The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science in 1956. Four years later, he published an annotated bibliography, Leftwing Social Movements in Japan. Another edited book, Socialist Parties in Postwar Japan, appeared in 1966.
In the late 1950s Uyehara received a job as historian in the R&D Branch at the U.S. Air Force Wright-Patterson Airforce Base in Dayton, Ohio, and joined their Long Range Planning Group as a geopolitical analyst. With support from the Air Force, Uyehara was selected to spend a year studying at Harvard University, where he wrote a well-received paper on the role of scientists as advisors on the Limited Nuclear Test ban Treaty.
After returning to Washington in 1972, he visited the National Postal Museum to create the first annotated bibliography on Afghan stamps.
In 1964, Uyehara joined the U.S. Bureau of the Budget, where he served for two years, before moving to the State Department’s Agency for International Development. During the Vietnam War Uyehara worked on aid to Vietnam. In 1969, Uyehara was sent to Afghanistan as third-in-command of the AID mission in the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. In addition to working on development policy while in Kabul, he developed a new interest: philately. Uyehara’s interest in stamp collecting, dating from childhood, was re-kindled and he became actively engaged with the idea of writing about Afghan stamps, on the theory (not entirely correct) that no one had written about this remote country. After returning to Washington in 1972, he visited the National Postal Museum to create the first annotated bibliography on Afghan stamps. Some 20 years later, his study, Afghan Philately, 1871-1989, was published by George Alevizos of Santa Monica, CA. It received the Vermeil award at the Pacific-1997 conference. In 1996, he published an additional article, "U.S. World War II Commemorative Sheets and the A-Bomb design: an unusual slice of U.S. philatelic history."
[Uyehara] formed Uyehara International Associates, a consultancy firm based in the Washington, D.C. area to advise on U.S.-Japanese relations, and served as President
In 1972, after he complained that the U.S. aid plan in Afghanistan was unworkable, Uyehara was removed from his position and transferred to AID’s Latin American section, where he remained until his retirement in 1980. Ironically, during his 25 years in government service, Uyehara had never made use of his Japanese studies or linguistic fluency in his work. Now he turned to active investigation of US-Japan relations. He formed Uyehara International Associates, a consultancy firm based in the Washington, D.C. area to advise on U.S.-Japanese relations, and served as President. In 1981, the chair of the Japan-American Society of Washington asked Uyehara to organize a science and technology seminar on the US and Japan. The conference was such a success that a second seminar was organized five years later. Even as he organized the conferences, Uyehara was employed as senior adviser to the Japanese Technology Evaluation Center created by the National Science Foundation at Loyola College in Baltimore. The two conferences eventuated in Uyehara’s edited volume US-Japan Science and Technology Exchange: Patterns of Interdependence. He later published a historical account, The U.S.-Japan Science and Technology Agreement: A Drama in Five Acts (2000). He also gave his name to a publication series, the Cecil H. Uyehara Collection on Science and Technology in Japan.
Uyehara had longed practiced calligraphy on his own. With support from the Japan Foundation, he put together a successful large-scale exhibition of Japanese calligraphy at the Library of Congress.
A second interest that Uyehara pursued in his retirement years was Japanese Calligraphy. Uyehara had long practiced calligraphy on his own. With support from the Japan Foundation, he put together a successful large-scale exhibition of Japanese calligraphy at the Library of Congress. Based on research at the Library, he wrote a study of the relevant literature, Japanese Calligraphy: A Bibliographic Study (1991). Meanwhile, he designed calligraphy for a children’s book, Mieko and the Fifth Treasure.
Uyehara remained active into his later years. In 2008, he published an analysis of Japanese commemorative stamps, The Japanese Furusato Stamp Program, 1989-2007. In 2009, He put together a privately printed family narrative, The Uyehara Story. In 2010, he published his first scholarly book about Japan since the 1950s, The Subversive Activities Prevention Law of Japan: Its Creation, 1951-52. The work dealt with an anti-radical law enacted at the end of the U.S. Occupation period.
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