Thursday, March 5, 2015

When Ambassador Reischauer was stabbed in Japan 1964

The slashing of US Ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert is not without precedent. On March 24, 1964, as then-US Ambassador to Japan Edwin Reischauer was leaving the US Embassy in Tokyo he was attacked by a deranged young man.

Amb. Reischauer was stabbed in the thigh slicing through his femoral artery and leaving the tip of the knife against his thigh bone. The wound was four inches deep and 12 inches long. He ended up with a 20-inch scar from his knee to his waist.

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He was almost killed. He nearly bled to death, like his brother from a wound received by a Japanese bomb in Shanghai 1937. The blood transfusion eventually did kill him, as he caught hepatitis from the blood he received.

Despite the pain, discomfort, and fog, the Ambassador the next day wrote this famous, gracious reassurance to the Japanese people:

I was born and grew up in Japan; and now that I have received Japanese blood, I finally feel that I have become half-Japanese.

It saved the Ikeda cabinet and calmed a difficult situation.

George Packard's 2010 book Edwin O. Reischauer and the American Discovery of Japan details the incident starting on page 205.

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