Norman’s Assessment of His Duties in Japan

Personal and Confidential


TOKYO, February 4th, 1949.

A.D.P. Heeney, Esquire,
Clerk of the Privy Council,
East Block, Parliament Buildings,
O t t a w a, Canada.

Dear Arnold,

We received news recently of government changes and among these was the information that you are to be Under-Secretary of the Department as from March 1st. I want to take this occasion of writing you to let you know how delighted I am to have you as my new chief, and further, to say that I feel most fortunate to have Mike [Pearson] as Minister and you as Deputy. I look forward keenly to the prospect.

I have written Mike fairly recently, as I do every few months, to let him know how things are going out here and I thought it appropriate now to write you briefly also to give you a picture of the situation here.


I have been here almost two and a half years and have had a most interesting and busy time.


The work has been of the utmost interest to me and I could not have a more congenial post. Although my primary responsibility has been working with SCAP and his officers, I have found it desirable to become acquainted with Japanese officials, but more important, with scholars, writers and the like. It is a great contrast to the years before the war when the Japanese, even those friendly to us, were in fear of cultivating our friendship. They are now most eager to talk and give us the benefit of their special knowledge. Because of the pressure of work I have not been able to accept many of the requests I have to visit and lecture at universities, but I felt it was wise to undertake a few lectures in Japanese. These have been most rewarding in the good relations I have been able to build up among Japanese scholars and critics.

In such spare time as I have, I have been trying to accumulate material from the Japanese in two or three fields which I think might be of long-range interest to the Department. First is a study of contemporary representative Japanese thinkers of various trends covering especially political science and modern history. Secondly, and more difficult and elusive, is a survey of Japanese studies of China, political, sociological and historical. I have always felt that Japanese scholars of China have a great advantage over us just as our classical scholars would have over Orientals, and Japanese sinology, particularly as applied to contemporary China, has not been a field extensively drawn upon by Westerners. These are just some of the long-range projects which I can only put my hand to in what little spare time I can squeeze out from official and social duties, but I think if I am permitted to stay here for at least a year or so I shall have a substantial accumulation of material in these and other fields.

With the rapid changes in the Far East, and particularly in China, I think Japan will become an increasingly important post not only for obvious reasons such as our Pacific security, but as a diplomatic vantage point for observation of Far Eastern developments. With the background of the last two and a half years here I feel I might be of greater service now to the Department if I may be permitted to remain on for at least another year or so. I have not heard of any prospective changes, but I though it only proper to let you know my views on the subject.

Let me assure you again how happy I am to be associated with you in the work of the Department.

With all best wishes.

Yours sincerely,

[signed Herbert]

Source: Library and Archives Canada, RG 32 Vol. 338 File Norman, Egerton Herbert, Part 2, E. Herbert Norman, Norman's Assessment of His Duties Japan, February 4, 1949

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