Still Desperate after Pearl Harbor: Investigations of Saburo Kurusu after the War of the Pacific

Masako Rachel Okura


Saburo Kurusu, an oft-forgotten diplomat who participated in the final three weeks of the U.S.-Japanese negotiations prior to the Pearl Harbor attack, has garnered renewed attention from diplomatic historians in the last several years. Owing to the publication of The Desperate Diplomat (Clifford & Okura, 2016), which included an original research article on Kurusu’s informal diplomacy along with his own English translation of the crucial parts in his memoir, academics now have a better understanding of his diplomatic efforts to stave off the War of the Pacific. A follow-up article, “The Desperate Diplomat Revisited (Okura, 2016),” presented perspectives from Kurusu’s collaborators in his informal diplomacy, an American financier, Barnard M. Baruch, and a Methodist minister, E. Stanley Jones, in support of his innocence. While those two studies are valuable in examining Kurusu’s involvement in the final U.S.-Japanese negotiations, they came up short in enlightening academics about what happened to Kurusu after Japan’s unconditional surrender in 1945. No studies have revealed Kurusu’s struggle after the war to debunk the myth of the deceitful ambassador. Although the International Persecution Section for the Tokyo Trials never indicted him, he was indeed under investigation. This article will seek to fill the gap in research by undertaking multi-archival studies.

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