III. A BIOGRAPHICAL INTRODUCTION
A. The Early Days and Academic Background
I graduated from Beloit College in June of 1937. My principle major was in anthropology, but I had taken extensive course work in other social sciences and the humanities. I spent the next two and a half months in Northeastern Arizona, stuck up a branch of the Tsegi Drainage, digging an early Pueblo site-- not far from the great Betatakin ruin, and sometimes interviewing a grizzled Navajo who brought our food in on a burro at Marsh Pass some nine miles to the north. The summer was not all digging, but included a touch of ethnology. The fall of 1937, I went to work for my father in Milwaukee in order to earn a little money for graduate work at the University of Chicago. For approximately a year I helped my father negotiate various business deals in the paper industry of which he was a specialist. My Chicago choice had been pre-ordained by my superior at the Logan Museum at Beloit College, Paul Nesbitt, who was still working on his doctorate at Chicago.
Finally in the early spring of 1939, I went down to Chicago for conferences with members of the anthropology department in order to arrange my registration as a student. During that brief stay I managed to get in a couple of sessions in A.R. Radcliff-Brown's seminar. Radcliffe-Brown had been a guest lecturer in the department for a year or so. In September I matriculated as a student in the Department of Anthropology.
The first fellow student I met there was Herbert Passin. Passin and I formed a friendship and alliance tinged with rivalry that lasted for the next thirty years. At the same time I met my future wife, a graduate student in clinical practice at Smith College, who was interned at the Institute for Juvenile Research at Chicago and living at the International House where I also lived.
In the summer of 1940 Passin and I both participated in the University of Chicago excavations project at the Kincaid site on the Ohio River in Southern Illinois. We jointly supervised an ambitious project on the great plaza surrounded by mounds at the Kincaid archaeological site, which involved the excavation of numerous five-yard square test pits. The Kincaid site was located in a rather primitive agricultural area (called "the Bottoms" since as river bottoms are, it was frequently flooded) along the Ohio River, not far from Metropolis, Illinois. This part of Illinois was really part of the Deep South culture area. Its resident white farmers were economically desperate and welcomed the New Deal's attempt to better their lot. WPA employment was in part viewed as demeaning to rugged individuals, but was welcomed as a way of receiving a monthly income, however small. These men were the diggers for our test-pit project. We began to interview them with reference to a variety of political, economic, and local affairs and we became deeply interested in their descriptions of the local community and its history. Passin and I become increasingly intrigued by the ethnological possibilities in this backwoods region of the Midwest.
Previous to this field trip we had discussed problems of research in rural food and economic problems with our professors at Chicago, who were in touch with Margaret Mead and officials in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. When we returned to Chicago in the end of the summer the idea of a formal research project in the southern Illinois area dealing with food and rural socio-economics began to materialize under the tutelage of Professor Lloyd Warner and, somewhat removed, Margaret Mead. The project officially focused on food habits because this was the dominant concern in agriculture at the time in anticipation of the possibility that the U.S. would shortly enter the war and would require a program of food rationing. However in addition to this war-related interest, Warner and ourselves were intrigued by the sociological and cultural aspects of this work including "race relations" (as they were called at the time). The University of Chicago had a tradition of research on "Negro-White Relations" and had already produced at least one book and many professional articles on the general subject. As a matter of fact Warner sent his black secretary with us as a field worker in order to interview the many blacks working as laborers and a few sharecroppers in the region. Funds were made available from the Department of Agriculture and the project went into the field sometime in the following year (1941). Anyway, we completed the project and eventually participated in numerous Washington meetings and conferences dealing with food and the problem of possible food rationing.
B. Training for the Job--or Lack of it
One thing led to another and in 1941, Passin and I joined the staff of the Program Surveys Division directed by Rensis Likert, the famous social psychologist. This division was housed in the Division of Farm Economics and Rural Welfare of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The job involved considerable travel to various interview sample points all over the country. Our tenure in program surveys lasted for about a year. Because both Passin and I had wives at home--and soon after children--we were somewhat anxious to settle down in Chicago. Therefore when Likert's polling operation was transferred to the Office of War Information in 1942, we went along as what the Chicago Tribune eventually called the "Chicago Spies for Roosevelt." Our job consisted of interviewing people at all levels of society in the Chicago area with reference to their attitudes toward the war and America's possible participation in it. An additional impetus in our decision to join Roosevelt's administration was that we believed that fascism must be destroyed before it reached the American shores. At this time, you may remember, there was a fascist movement in the United States, or rather many reactionary movements of varying domestic and European tinges, so we considered it a genuine threat. Sinclair Lewis had recently published his scary book, It Can't Happen Here. Our polling experiences in various "sample points" in the Chicago area and also in other parts of the country are an adventure story in its own right which I will refrain from telling you right now.
At the time neither Passin nor I were draftable, as we both had small children. Passin took a position with the War Relocation Authority in Detroit. At this time he became interested in the Japanese language. He enlisted in the Army at the Military Intelligence Language School (MILS), which at that time was being organized in anticipation of an American occupation of Japan. Since I was not draftable, I stayed home and concentrated on my doctorate at Chicago using some of the research from the Southern Illinois food habits and community research for my dissertation. Eventually, I got tired of waiting around (as did Saul Bellow, who wrote his first novel about this experience, Dangling Man) and made some arrangements for the support of my small family and volunteered for the draft. But, because I was registered in a neighborhood with many young single men I received another deferment. Instead, I went to work in what became the Office of War Production as a specialist in organizing industrial and domestic waste materials campaigns designed to provide recycled materials for wartime uses in anticipation of our entry into the war.
While I worked in these recycling campaigns I also continued to work on my degree exams and thesis. With the degree almost in hand, I was invited to join the staff of the Department of Sociology at Ohio State University in Columbus because their anthropologist, Jack Harris , had been drafted. I was able to leave my wife and children in Chicago because the former was employed and we also had a nurse to stay with the children during the day. So, I went down to Columbus in the fall of 1943 and rented rooms for a year while looking for an apartment for the family and preparing course work in anthropology.
I taught at Ohio State University for a couple of years and my deferment was nearly up. People in the Occupation had been urging me to join the staff not as a professional specialist in Asian subjects, but because of my unique training in both public attitude surveying and community studies. While I had a general knowledge of Asian cultures, due to my anthropological training, I had no specific training in Japanese history, customs, or language. I accepted a position with the Occupation and prepared to leave for Japan with the promise that I would be able to bring my family with me.
From 1944 to 1948 I prepared for the Japan assignment by studying Japanese and the sociology and history of Japan--although very little information was available at that time. I did not leave for Japan until fall 1948 and due to transportation problems did not arrive there until late 1948. Lower ranking personnel (like me) traveled on ATS--Army Transportation Service--ships (we called it the Army's Navy!). It took me twelve days and a bout with a small typhoon to get to Yokohama Harbor . For the next six months I did everything possible to bring my family over--they finally arrived December 19, 1949-- and also to conduct a variety of research undertakings associated with the Occupation and its reforms of Japanese society.
Shortly after the arrival of my wife and children we were assigned a house in the DenÚn chofu area of Setagaya-ku, a district within Tokyo. There we lived for over two years with some teenage servants and plenty of visitors and friends. The children attended the Tokyo American School but also mingled extensively with Japanese school children in the neighborhood. I commuted to downtown Tokyo every day in a battered 1947 Ford sedan that I had bought from an Occupationaire returning to the States. These cars--like these assigned houses--were passed from one Occupationaire to another throughout the history of the Occupation. It was a pleasant enough existence, although my duties and fieldwork prevented me from spending much time at home. So far as my wife is concerned, she became active in various circles of American and Japanese women with education and professional status.
1. Was "Jack Harris" the guy who later went to Columbia? --comment by Herbert Passin
2. It took you 12 days, plus a typhoon, to reach Japan. My trip from Seattle took 17 days, plus the explosion of a water mine!-- comment by Herbert Passin.
C. Working for the Occupation
During this time I had a position in the Civil Information and Education Section (CIE) of SCAP, the official acronym for the Allied Occupation of Japan ("Supreme Commander Allied Powers"). Specifically, I worked in the PO&SR Division, one of the research arms of the Occupation, concerned with doing customized research for various Occupation and Japanese government agencies. More information on the PO&SR division will be supplied later. In 1949 I became the Chief of the division.
The Allied Occupation of Japan was an extraordinary success, made possible by the compliance and cooperation of the Japanese, who on the whole viewed it as another opportunity to emulate and improve on Western institutions. The success was also created by the remarkable ability of General Douglas MacArthur to play the role of a benign and aristocratic emperor who respected imperial institutions and social order. Yes, the Allies--the British, the French, the Soviets, and so on--were all represented, but their representatives really had little more to do but hang around and watch the Americans do the work.
The PO&SR Division was staffed by four or five American social scientists (the number fluctuated, due to departures for the States and subsequent arrivals), and a varying number of Japanese students and scholars in the social science fields. In a sense, the Division saved the professional lives of a number of Japanese sociologists, anthropologists, and social psychologists, as the majority of them had lost their positions as a result of Japan's defeat. Before the war, many of these scholars had experience in foreign academic or research institutions.
The PO&SR's mission was to plan and execute studies--often with the assistance of Japanese universities and government institutes--leading to social reform, or evaluating their role and progress. Studies of the agricultural land reform, prostitution, local political development, family structure and many other things were accomplished. I was involved in or directed most of these studies and the fieldwork required elaborate expeditions (often carried out with the help of SCAP Motor Pool jeeps).
At any rate, since the Occupation was closing up the American incumbents in PO&SR had to face the necessity of returning to the States. I don't recall the exact order of departures, however, my family and I did go through severance in 1951 and were put on a ship back home. Shipboard life in this period was something everyone under the rank of General had to experience. Only outstanding VIPs were privileged to be flown across the Pacific and back. These shipboard journeys took twelve days and usually somewhere in the middle of the Pacific we ran into a typhoon or something like it. It happened to me on the way to Japan from Seattle; it happened to my wife and two kids on their journey to Japan two years later; and it happened to all four of us on our return trip home. The ships were of two types: One type consisted of medium sized excursion and tourist ships converted for passage of dependents and military personnel. The second type, much smaller, consisted of converted liberty ships, which were little more than floating boxcars. Fortunately for the way home my assimilated rank of "colonel" entitled my family and me to first class accommodations on a ship of the first type.
Well, anyway we got back to Columbus, Ohio where I settled into an academic career that lasted from 1951 to 1959. Upon my arrival I discovered two persons at Ohio State who inspired my decision to form a Japan oriented research program. These people were first, Michio Nagai, a graduate student in education (who incidentally many years later became the Minster of Education for Japan) and secondly Kazuo Kawai, who had been Editor of the Japan Times, the distinguished English language newspaper in Tokyo which was allowed to be published in Tokyo during the Occupation. Kawai had some credentials as an academic political scientist and had become a member of the Political Science Department at OSU. I then also brought Iwao Ishino, who had been one of my colleagues in the PO&SR division into this research program. The title of the program was Research in Japanese Social Relations (RJSR). Students of social science history of this period will recognize the term "Social Relations" as being derived from the Harvard Department of that name headed by such luminaries as Talcott Parsons and Clyde Kluckhohn. Actually, Ishino, Nagai and I formed the core of the staff while Kawai functioned as a kind of advisor and historian. We published several monographs, a bibliography of which can be found at the end of this book. As a matter of fact I think that it is fair to consider the present book as the final contribution of this RJSR program. I apologize for being several decades late. In fact, when I left Ohio State University for Washington University in 1959 I had something like this book in mind, so I am pleased to be able to bring it to fruition.
Although Herbert Passin and I had interacted intimately in an intellectual sense for so many years, after our Occupation experience our paths diverged. I went straight back into academic anthropology and sociology and stayed in it for the rest of my career. Passin, on the other hand, became what I think can be called an intellectual adventurer--although this term is not in any means derogatory. After a brief stay at the University of California at Berkeley, he went on to spend five years as a roving correspondent for Encounter magazine and the Congress for Cultural Freedom in Paris. He spent three years at the University of Washington and then spent the remainder of his career at Columbia University in the East Asian Institute and Department of Sociology. During this time Passin did a great deal of work as a consultant with the Ford Foundation and other such agencies and was Department Chair in Sociology for some time as well*.
I think it should be noted that both Passin and I, as well as many other people who received their basic social science training in the early 1940s, were never wedded to one discipline. It was a period of eclectic search for social science principles and methods, which could be applied to the real world wherever they worked successfully. Applied anthropology and applied sociology both owe their origins to this eclectic inter-disciplinary period. Most certainly the PO&SR was another product of this interactive spirit. Our staff, both Japanese and American, contained representatives from every social and socio-psychological discipline, and we all cooperated easily and effectively, mainly because the focus was on the problem and the subject matter and not on disciplinary theory. After the war all of the social science disciplines underwent a hardening of discipline theory and method, a development, which, in my opinion, has been to their detriment.
* I spent 3 years as the Asian representative for Encounter, and then 2 years in Paris, in charge of international seminars for the Congress for Cultural Freedom. I worked as a consultant for many companies, foundations, financial houses, and other private organizations as well. --comment by Herbert Passin