I wrote in today's Globe about the impressive and sustained work of dozens of Massachusetts judges in China. For more than a decade, these judges have given their time and expertise to help the Chinese improve the rule of law. And they have hosted Chinese judges here to experience the American judicial system first-hand. Often, these visitors have lived in the homes of Massachusetts judges for weeks or months at a time.
One point that didn't make it into print covered the funding of the program. This work has been forged and driven by a team from the University of Massachusetts-Boston, and more specifically within the McCormack Graduate School of Policy Studies. Founder Edmund Beard, now a senior adviser to the UMass president, has used his formidable grant-generating skills to drum up federal support for the Bay State-China projects over the years.
One early trip was funded through what was supposed to be a one-time grant from the US State Department to help promote the rule of law in China. But the exchange was deemed so successful that five more such grants followed. And then the US Agency for International Development weighed in with a big grant. That $1.9 million three-year USAID grant runs through February 2011.
I also wrote about an area that has developed strong momentum over the last couple of years -- training Chinese law students in mediation and alternative dispute resolution. UMass-Boston professor David Matz, who founded the school's graduate program in dispute resolution, has traveled to China four times in the last couple of years to offer training.
Matz's firm, The Mediation Group, marked its 25th anniversary this year by sending senior staff members with Matz to China for the negotiation competition that Matz and a Beijing-based colleague, Andrew Wei-Min Lee, offered for students from six Chinese law schools. The firm co-sponsored the competition, and also is sponsoring a US tour of dispute-resolution hotspots for the winners. Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Wendie Gershengorn was among the competition judges.
In attempting to frame the context of the Bay State's renowned dispute resolution expertise, I mentioned the legacy of the Harvard Law School's Program on Negotiation. That may have misled some readers; there's no Harvard involvement in this China project.
Worthy of note: Peter Anderson, the retired judge from Boston who has become a leader of the Chinese effort and has traveled to China 14 times, says that the Massachusetts judges' family members have often contributed to the training -- playing roles in the mock trials that form a pillar of the program. Anderson's wife, Ann, who has had a long interest in China, has taken part in mock trials.
Anderson recalled in my discussion with him: "These mock trials turned out to be wildly successful. We went to a couple of law schools where these huge auditoriums were packed. One had more than 800 people. It was a sweltering day.... We walked on stage and you'd think we were the Rolling Stones. People started screaming and hollering."
Thaleia Schlesinger, a spokesperson for the family, said today that Aijalon Mahli Gomes was allowed to call his mother last night, which was Friday morning in Korea. Gomes, who had been living in South Korea for the past couple of years, was sentenced by a North Korean court earlier this month to eight years in prison.
"She was so happy to hear his voice and to be able to talk to him, and is very grateful that the North Korean government allowed him to call," Schlesinger said. She declined further comment, adding that Gomes' mother "really doesn't want to go beyond expressing her gratitude to the government for allowing him to call."
Schlesinger commented in response to a report by the official Korean Central News Agency that Gomes spoke with his family today. That report said the call was allowed after Gomes asked "for phone contact with his family for his health and other reasons," according to the Associated Press. The North Korean dispatch offered no other details.
Schlesinger declined to talk about Gomes' family beyond saying they live in Boston. Previous reports have said Gomes grew up in Mattapan. He attended Bowdoin College and graduated with an English degree in 2001, and moved to South Korea in his late 20s to teach English.
Friends in South Korea have said he was active in his evangelical church there, and was very upset when a friend, Korean-American Robert Park, was arrested after crossing into North Korea on Dec. 25 to protest human rights abuses there. That may have spurred Gomes to cross the border himself a month later.
North Korean state media reported in early April that Gomes had been sentenced to eight years of hard labor and fined the equivalent of $700,000 for entering North Korea illegally and other unspecified "hostile acts."
The US State Department and Senator John F. Kerry of Massachusetts have called on North Korea to grant Gomes amnesty and let him come home. He is the fourth American to be detained in North Korea for allegedly entering illegally in the past year. Park and two American journalists who were detained in a separate incident were all released after several months in custody.
The United States has no diplomatic relations with the Communist North Korean government. Swedish Embassy officials in Pyongyang, the capital, attended Gomes' trial, and last had consular access to him on March 17.
One of Japan's revered experts on traditional architecture, Yoshihiro Takishita, will offer an illustrated lecture on the issue in Boston at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 22 on the minka and the preservation work he has pursued for many years. The event is free an open to the public at the Showa Boston Institute, 420 Pond St. (near Larz Anderson Museum & Park).
Peter Grilli, President of the Japan Society of Boston, says Takishita 's work in moving and restoring minka has been widely recognized in Japan. Takishita launched a non-profit group called Nokoso-kai, or The Association for Preserving Old Japanese Farmhouses, a few years ago, and Grilli says it has set off waves of new interest in traditional rural architecture in Japan.
Takishita's work has been celebrated in Architectural Digest and many other international architecture magazines. Grilli adds this background:
Born in the snow country of rural Gifu prefecture, he studied law at Waseda university in Tokyo. After graduating in 1967, he oversaw the dismantling, removal, reconstruction, and renovation of an old farmhouse in Fukui prefecture for an American foreign correspondent living in Kamakura. This experience (which was documented in the recent book Minka by John Roderick) aroused his interest in the rescue and preservation of such farmhouses, called minka. Despite an architectural tradition going back a thousand years, they are rapidly disappearing from the countryside as farm families replace them with modern, easily-heated and maintained western-style houses. Ten years later, at the request of another American, he moved a second minka from Gifu to Karuizawa, a well-known mountain resort, where he renovated and rebuilt it as a vacation home. That marked the start of his second career, this time as an architect, specializing in the richly rewarding field of rescuing and restoring classic Japanese farm dwellings. He now lives and works in a complex of restored minka in Kamakura, and his home has attracted visits by heads of state, architects, and many others from all over the world.
A reader notes that much of the credit for the shift in thinking should go to Lawrence Summers, who was Harvard's president from 2001 to 2006, when he resigned amid several controversies. Summers aggressively promoted Harvard's international ties, and, after a generation in which Harvard students were actively discouraged from wasting any time away from campus, Summers told the faculty to get their students abroad -- "It's time to get out of town," the reader recalls him saying.
I spoke with Harvard President Drew Faust last week before she left for a trip to China about Harvard's steadily more global strategy. Faust is in Shanghai today, dedicating the new premises of the Harvard Shanghai Center. Describing Harvard's numerous international initiatives and the multitude of faculty exchange programs, she told the ceremony: "Increasingly, we are in a world of universities without borders."
Faust told me the push to get students to travel abroad really accelerated in 2002, shortly after Summers took over. Indeed, Summers' commencement speech from 2005 reads like a manifesto for Harvard to be part of the world and live up to its global responsibilities, especially in developing countries.
"I am pleased to be able to report to you that the Harvard student experience is changing in ways that prepare our students for a world that some of them will go on to shape, and in which all of them will need to think globally"
Summers quoted Dean William Kirby's line, "there's no place to study China like China," and went on:
"With his leadership and that of his colleagues, I am pleased to report that we are approaching the day when, like the swimming test for a previous generation of Harvard undergraduates, an international experience will be the norm and expectation for future generations of Harvard undergraduates."
Summers' predecessor, Neil Rudenstine, stepped up the internationalization of Harvard in the 1990s, opening offices abroad, creating the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies and opening offices abroad. But the shift to encourage Harvard students to study abroad really began in earnest in the past decade, under Summers, and has sped up even further under Faust.
A six-member delegation from the Hangzhou municipal government arrived in Boston on Tuesday, in time for a reception by the opera's supporters at the Four Seasons Hotel. But the main attraction for the visitors is tonight's benefit gala performance at the Cutler Majestic Theatre. The legend of Madame White Snake, a snake-demon who becomes a woman so she can fall in love with a man, takes place in Hangzhou.
Tonight's gala is not the official world premiere -- that's Friday night -- but the first full performance of the opera provides a chance to celebrate several extraordinary collaborations. In creating the opera, librettist Cerise Lim Jacobs has fostered partnerships between the Boston arts world and the city's Chinese community, as well as between Opera Boston and the Beijing Music Festival, in pulling off the first opera commissioned in Boston in decades.
Rehearsing "Madame White Snake." Soprano Ying Huang works with director Robert Woodruff, and other cast members. Globe staff photo by Yoon S. Byun
I wrote an account in the Sunday Globe about Jacobs, a former corporate lawyer and prosecutor, came up with the idea and then made it happen. My Boston.com colleague Scott LaPierre produced a video about the opera, and a photo gallery of pictures by Globe photographers shows it coming together.
The Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center worked with the "Friends of Madame White Snake" to create classes and seminars -- including "Opera 101" -- to teach members about Western and Chinese opera over the past year. More than 1,000 school children took part, many at the Josiah Quincy School in Chinatown.
Jacobs even wrote a youth play based on the legend, entitled "When the White Snake Cries." Hundreds of young people, many bused from Chinatown, attended the shows at the Art Barn Community Theater in Brookline, said Carmen Chan, director of development for the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center, one of the region's largest social service organizations.
Giles Li, the arts director for the center, says the arts programs have been a useful way for Chinese-Americans who have moved out to the suburbs to stay connected with their community, even if they no longer rely on the neighborhood center for social services.
Selina Chow, the board president of the BCNC who focuses heavily on education programs, connected with Cerise Lim Jacobs and Hsiu-Lan Chang, a Brookline resident who as co-chair of Friends of Madame White Snake has worked non-stop to engage the community and raised funds for the three-performance run. Together they built up the community outreach efforts.
Tongiht's gala was organized by the Friends to raise funds as well as acknowledge all the community involvement. The BCNC received 100 tickets for its members, and the Friends also have donated tickets to other groups including the Perkins School for the Blind and the Massachusetts National Guard.
Carole Charnow, the general director of Opera Boston, said the opera "really has integrated the Chinese experience into the Theater District in a substantial and rich way."
Elaine Ng, the executive director of the BCNC, said the opera project "is bringing back an element of our history and culture, and making it accessible. This is an opportunity to bring it back for Chinese immigrants, and Americans who don't have the language. This opens up a whole new audience. It's a whole different level of cultural exposure."
The opera also has reawakened the mystery of the Madame White Snake legend, in Cerise Jacobs' first English-language interpretation. "For me," said Carmen Chan, "the demons always stood out. Now I see it as more of a love story."
The Hangzhou delegation includes Xie Chongming, deputy director of the city's foreign affairs office, and finance officials Zhang Zhen and Lu Bin. Hangzhou is one of eight official sister cities for Boston. The city, located in Zhejiang Province southwest of Shanghai, is regarded as one of the most scenic and important cultural centers in China.
The opera may be performed at some point in Hangzhou. For now, it is scheduled to open the month-long Beijing Music Festival in October.
Song Tu, the program director for the festival, said by telephone that the Beijing festival's artistic director, Long Yu, had co-commissioned the work with Opera Boston in part because "he wants Westerners to open their eyes to China, and see how we can connect with the world through the music, through creative, imaginative methods, and not only to represent the more famous traditional repertoire."
Song Tu is himself a product of the Boston-China connection. He got his master's in clarinet performance at Boston University in the late 1980s and lived in Boston for almost 10 years. He said he has noticed how James Levine has also widened the repertoire of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in recent years, "and he is open to more cultures and perspectives."
"Madame White Snake", Song Tu said, is more than just Chinese culture, but reflects "the world's culture. It is not not purely Western, and it is not Chinese Peking opera. I'm sure there are a lot of elements in between. And this is the point."
Indonesia is the fourth-largest country in the world, the largest Muslim-majority democracy and a global player among young democracies that have emerged from military dictatorships. Yet even at Harvard, Indonesia has somehow remained among the less-studied major East Asian countries, overshadowed by China, Japan and Vietnam.
That's about to change, thanks to a fortuitous connection between an Indonesian business magnate and the Asia expert who heads the Ash Center at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. A $20.5 million gift -- described as one of the five largest in the Kennedy School's 74-year history -- is funding the creation of a new Institute for Asia as well as a new Indonesia Program at the Kennedy School.
The Kennedy School today announced the gift from the Rajawali Foundation, the charitable arm of the PT Rajawali Corporation, one of Indonesia's largest conglomerates. The private company, founded in the early 1980s by billionaire owner and director Peter Sondakh, is a major player in cement, retailing, palm oil, hotels and other industries.
Professor Anthony Saich, director of the renamed Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Kennedy School, said in an interview that the new Rajawali Foundation Institute for Asia and the new Indonesia Program within it would allow an array of education and research initiatives as well as collaboration with Indonesian institutions.
"This will give us an opportunity to both bring in a new tranch of master's degree students, and also to bring in current Indonesian officials into some of our executive programs," Saich said. "We will also be running a fellows program that will bring in some of their good young academics to study with us, and through them establish collaborative research projects on issues like education reform, crisis management and the impact of government decentralization."
Saich said the idea for a new institute flowed from Sondakh's request for a competitive analysis for Indonesia similar to one that Kennedy School researchers had produced for Vietnam. Saich said he told Sondakh that he wasn't comfortable producing an in-depth study of Indonesia because the Kennedy School lacked the expertise on Indonesia that it had built up on Vietnam and China, for example.
So Sondakh offered to help strengthen the Kennedy School's capacity to produce high-level research on Indonesia and to strengthen its academic ties through collaborative with institutions there. The gift includes $10.5 million as an endowment for the new Asia institute, paid over five years, and another $10 million, also spread over five years, to fund Indonesia-related activities.
"I think that one of the big advantages of this gift is that Southeast Asia generally has been poorly studied and understood across Harvard, and we have barely one or two students here a year from Indonesia," Saich said. "As a result we have few contacts compared to other important countries, and little ongoing research."
With a population of 230 million people spread across 17,000 islands, Indonesia is a vibrant multi-party democracy and also a bulwark of moderate Muslim governance in Asia, and thus important not only in the region but for its potential to influence other Muslim nations.
Saich said the Ash Center is on the verge of completing the research study that Sondakh commissioned, and Saich is traveling to Asia on Friday, with a stop scheduled in Jakarta, the capital, to present the findings to partners there.
"If the project works, it has a lot of potential for raising ideas about good governance in a Muslim context," said Saich.
Saich's own background makes for a good fit with Indonesian studies. Previously he was head of Harvard's university-wide Asia center while serving as a professor of international affairs and faculty chairman of Asian programs. The Asia Programs moved into the Ash Center when Saich became director in mid-2008. A British-educated China expert, Saich has studied and visited China since the mid-1970s, and he is also a guest professor at the prestigious Tsinghua University in Beijing.
The former career diplomat has just made his first trip to Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, since taking on his new part-time job in Northeast Asia earlier this year.
Bosworth spent three days in Pyongyang for what he and his bosses called exploratory meetings -- not yet a negotiating session -- to determine whether North Korea is willing to get back to the six-nation talks that came unstuck early this year as North flouted Western governments and tested a second nuclear weapon.
After leaving Pyongyang, Bosworth traveled to Seoul, South Korea, to brief the government there. He said today that North Korea understood the importance of the talks, but gave no hint when or under what conditions it might return to the table. He called the talks "candid." Bosworth will also travel to Tokyo, Beijing and Moscow to update the other major players in the on-again, off-again process.
This is Bosworth's first journey to Pyongyang as special envoy, but hardly his first experience with the reclusive country.
In a profile in the Globe on Bosworth in May, I noted: "Bosworth knows North Korea like few Americans. He has dealt with the regime since the mid-1990s, when he served as the senior US diplomat in charge of implementing the Clinton administration's 1994 agreement with the North to give up its nuclear program in return for energy aid and the prospect of normalized relations with the United States. Bosworth went on to serve as US Ambassador to South Korea from 1997 to 2000."
Hard to imagine better experience than that for these delicate, complex discussions. Bosworth's boss, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, said today she was cautious positive, saying: "It does remain to be seen whether and when the North Koreans will return to the six-party talks. But the bottom line is that these were exploratory talks, not negotiations.... I think that for a preliminary meeting, it was quite positive."
A Newton-based organization that promotes global learning and health programs has received a helping hand from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for an innovative book fair program in the Philippines.
During her visit to the Philippines on Thursday, Clinton cut the ribbon at a book fair organized by Education Development Center's Philippines branch. The event was at Malanday National High School in Marikina City, near the capital, Manila. The school was heavily damaged during recent flooding, and Clinton pledged additional US support for the recovery effort.
The EDC project, called Education Quality and Access to Learning and Livelihood Skills Project, has organized book fairs around the country. The events "let teachers use pre-paid vouchers to choose the books they and their students need most, increasing the likelihood of high-impact, creative teaching and learning in the classroom."
Clinton joined 66 teachers and 2,000 students who used their vouchers to select from the 50,000 English, science, and math books that were made available during the marketplace event and take them back to their school classrooms. The books come from Brothers' Brother Foundation, a Pittsburgh--based group that has collected and distributed more than 80 million books since 1958.
The EDC and Brothers' Brother Foundation both have major operations in the Philippines. A current EDC initiative is distributing nearly 50,000 free copies of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary to more than 700 elementary schools in Mindanao, a war-torn Muslim island in the south of the archipelago.
Yvette Tan, an EDC staffer in the Philippines, says teachers identified dictionaries as critical tools to get students more interested in reading and preparing them to grapple with subjects taught in English, including science and math. The US Agency for International Development is funding the dictionary project, which is cosponsored by the National Bookstore Foundation.
The Japan Society of Boston continues its celebration of the 50th anniversary of Boston's sister-city relationship with Kyoto -- by sharing the secrets of the fabulously ornate women's hair styles made famous in woodblock prints from the 17th and 18th centuries.
Peter Grilli, president of the Boston society, advises that Keiichi Hanada, Kyoto's most celebrated contemporary hair stylist, will give a free talk and demonstration of the classic coiffures at 6:30 this evening at the society's center at the Showa Boston Institute, 420 Pond St., Boston.
Hanada also will offer the demonstration at Symphony Hall after the Boston Symphony Orchestra performance on Friday evening.
For more details on this and other anniversary events, visit the Japan Society of Boston web site.
British soprano Charlotte de Rothschild has a passion for classical Japanese songs. She has recorded a CD titled "A Japanese Journey: Nihon no Tabiji," and recently created and performed in a 90-minute television documentary by the Japanese NHK network called "Rothschild Passions."
De Rothschild will offer a free concert of her favorite Japanese songs in Boston on Monday evening. She will perform at 6:30 p.m. at the Rainbow Hall, Showa Boston Institute, at 420 Pond St., the home of the Japan Society of Boston.
The society says de Rothschild, a celebrated oratorio singer and recitalist, will sing a selection of her favorite songs by renowned Japanese composers Kohsaku Yamada, Hidemaro Konoe, and others.
The society notes: "Another of her recordings is Family Connections, presenting English, French and German music associated with her distinguished family over the last three centuries. She will be accompanied in this recital by Danielle Perrett, a virtuoso harpist who has played all over the world."
De Rothschild, a member of the famed British banking family, is a global performer but has a special following in Japan. She studied at the Mozart University in Salzburg, Austria, and at the Royal College of Music in London.
Few modern leaders know as much about nation-building -- and even fewer have paid such a high personal price in the process -- as East Timor's president, Jose Ramos-Horta.
Horta will speak at a free public lecture on Tuesday afternoon at MIT about the challenges of nation-building. The talk is being hosted by MIT's Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship in advance of its second annual conference on Friday. The talk is being held at Building 10, Room 250 at 2:30 p.m., with seating to start at 2:15 p.m.
Ramos-Horta agitated as a student for East Timor's independence from Portugal, the colonial power. Just days before Indonesia invaded East Timor and annexed it in 1975, he went into exile as a 25-year-old cabinet minister for East Timor to argue its case at the United Nations Security Council. For years he pleaded East Timor's cause, and in 1996 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work, along with Bishop Ximenes Belo.
After East Timor finally won independence from Indonesia in 2002 following decades of bloodshed and negotiations Ramos-Horta served as foreign minister in the newly elected government as foreign minister, which continued to weather unrest. He was elected president in April 2007, and was badly wounded in an assassination attempt in February 2008.
At the age of 59, Ramos-Horta will carry a lifetime of democratic activism to the MIT forum, even as his country continues its struggle for political stability and economic development from the ranks of the poorest nations in Asia.
For Boston, it's the mother of all sister-city relationships. Boston and Kyoto this week are celebrating the 50th anniversary of Boston's first formal partnership with a foreign city.
A week-long flurry of public events included tonight's "Japan Night" at Fenway Park, honoring the four Japanese players now on the Red Sox roster, among them Kyoto native Hideki Okajima. Kyoto Mayor Daisaku Kadokawa threw out the first ball. With him were a dozen boys from the Boston area who have just completed a baseball-focused exchange tour of Japan, a year after 12 young Japanese ballplayers visited Boston in a similar exchange.
But most of the anniversary events are designed to celebrate the rich cultural and academic traditions that distinguish both cities, and the many ties they have established since Kyoto became Boston's first sister city in 1959.
Kadokawa joined Boston officials this evening in a reception at the Children's Museum, to celebrate the establishment there in 1979 of the Kyoto House, a replica of a traditional Japanese dwelling given by the people of Kyoto in 1979 on the 20th anniversary of the sister-city relationship.
Peter Grilli, who is president of the Japan Society of Boston, spoke to me today of how the bond between the cities remains vital and growing, honoring the past but also focused on contemporary concerns, through events such as a symposium today by urban planners on preserving historic sites.
"Boston and Kyoto are both ancient cities with fantastic histories that we cherish. But we’re also not weighted down by history," said Grilli, a specialist on Japanese film and culture. "Boston and Kyoto both look forward, and have significant high-tech sectors. But we're also both involved in preserving their monuments."
Boston's Japan Society is the oldest in the United States, and celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2004.
With its 2,000 Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, Kyoto is a UNESCO world heritage site. It also is home to 37 universities, rivaling Boston's role as a national center of education excellence for Japan. Kyoto's university association this week signed an agreement with the Fenway-area group of six Boston colleges to increase exchanges between them.
The Museum of Fine Arts also has exhibitions on at the moment to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the sisterhood.
Kadokawa, elected in 2008, was previously the head of the city's education department, and also is president of the League of Historical Cities, a global group that works to build ties among cities with strong historical roots.
The cities formally became sister-cities three years after the Eisenhower Administration created the sister-city program to encourage global partnerships and exchanges between US cities and like-minded cities abroad. Boston now has eight formal sister-city relationships. The others, in the order they were established, are Strasbourg, France; Barcelona, Spain; Hangzhou, China; Padua, Italy; Melbourne, Australia; Taipei, Taiwan; and Sekondi-Takoradi, Ghana. (There are several other substantial but unofficial partnerships with cities including Haifa in Israel).
The sister-city ties are supported primarily by the expatriate communities here, and Boston's substantial Japanese Community is organized through the very active Japan Society, based at the Showa Boston Institute in Jamaica Plain.
Kyoto, a city of about 1.5 million, has been discerning in its choice of sister cities. Its web site lists nine, including Paris, Prague, Florence and Guadalajara.
Two Boston-area physicians who have traveled extensively in the Sichuan region of China since it was devastated by an earthquake a year ago have provided a thoughtful and moving assessment of the aftermath on the first anniversary of the quake.
Writing on abcnews.com, Doctors Kendall Krause and Charlotte Wu describe some of the successes of the Chinese recovery effort, but also some of the failings, told through the eyes of survivors and those who lost family members and are still awaiting new homes. Both doctors are graduates of the Yale School of Medicine. Wu is now a resident at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, and Krause is now a medical writer. They both traveled to Sichuan last August to provide medical help to victims, and returned recently to assess the progress.
They write vividly of people's losses, their continuing need for help and the tentative rebuilding in the region. The capture the concern about whether the Chinese government this time will avoid the construction and design mistakes of the past in an area notorious for frequent and destructive quakes. Almost 80,000 were confirmed dead, and more than 370,000 were injured, with millions of lives disrupted by the earthquake on May 12, 2008.
The Japan Society of Boston today is honoring a revered Tokyo physician who has made a major contribution to preserving the legacy of Japanese-American relations in New England.
The free event, including a concert of Japanese and American music, is being held at the society's Showa Hall in Jamaica Plain at 5:30 p.m. The occasion honors Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara for his leading role in raising funds in Japan to restore the historic Whitfield-Manjiro Friendship House in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, which opened on Thursday to honor John Manjiro, the first Japanese to live in America.
The society explains his significance: "John Manjiro, also known as Manjiro Nakahama, was rescued at sea by Captain William Whitfield and, at age 16, came to Whitfield’s Fairhaven house, where he lived from 1843 to 1849. Returning to Japan, he was appointed a samurai and indirectly influenced the negotiations with Commodore Matthew Perry which ended 250 years of Japanese isolation."
The society calls Dr. Hinojara, who is now 97 years old, "one of Japan's greatest physicians and humanists." He was chairman of St. Luke's International Hospital in Tokyo, and has authored many books. He has been personal physician to the empress of Japan.
Later this month, the Japan Society will mark the 50th anniversary of the Kyoto-Boston sister-city relationship with a dinner on May 26 at the Charles Hotel in Cambridge. (The Museum of Fine Arts has an exhibition at the moment on art depicting Kyoto). The dinner will also celebrate the 105th anniversary of the Japan Society of Boston -- the oldest of the more than 45 Japan-America societies around the United States.
The speaker will be Congressman Barney Frank, the Newton Democrat who worked hard for the 1988 law that granted reparations to Japanese-Americans who had been interned by the US government during World War II.
Two of the four senior foreign policy appointees named today by President Obama have New England roots, and attended elite private high schools here. Both men have played central roles in developing US policy toward North Korea at a time of growing tension over its nuclear weapons program.
And one has played the drums in impromptu gigs in Moscow.
Obama named Christopher R. Hill as ambassador to Baghdad. Hill, who had been the US envoy to the six-party talks on North Korea since 2005, spent part of his childhood in Little Compton, Rhode Island. He attended the Moses Brown School in Providence before going on to do his undergraduate work at Bowdoin College in Maine.
Obama also appointed Alexander Vershbow as assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs. "Sandy" Vershbow was born in Brookline, grew up in Newton and went to Buckingham Browne & Nichols School in Cambridge, and then on to Yale for his undergraduate degree. He has been US ambassador to the Russian federation as well as ambassador to NATO before becoming the US envoy to South Korea.
See Globe staffer and former Moscow bureau chief David Filipov's profile of Vershbow, including his work as an amateur drummer.
About this blog
About James F. SmithJim Smith came home to his native Boston in 2002 to become the Boston Globe's foreign editor after spending 22 years abroad. He was previously based in Buenos Aires and Mexico City for the LA Times, and in Johannesburg, Tokyo and The Hague for the AP. In 2007 he became the Globe's national political editor, coordinating presidential campaign coverage. He is a Yale graduate, and has an MBA. He is married to Maxine Hart and has two sons, Matthew and Daniel.
Is your organization holding an event? Post it on our calendar (use "worldlyboston" for the keyword).