Hugh Byas, a British Editor Who Became a Leading Expert on Japan Between the First and Second World Wars. A Biographical History of Newspaper Journalist

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The writings of Hugh Byas, journalist and japanologist, developed while he was editor of the Japan Advertiser and later as correspondent of the London Times and New York Times. His work in Japan between the World Wars, is a discourse on progressive sovereignty. Byas equated a sovereign state with one that possessed an organized government capable of modernizing the state and developing democratic institutions to empower public opinion.


“When Japanese bombers struck at the heart of American defense in the Pacific on a drowsy Sunday in 1941, people throughout the world were puzzled. Where was Pearl Harbor? What did this all mean? In these pages Peter Oblas tells us what a select group of Asia-watchers and journalists knew because of the work of newspaper reporter Hugh Byas. He spent more than two decades in Tokyo, following what happened around him as factions within Japan vacillated between cooperation with other leading nations to maintain peace or, as happened, increasingly, invaded China to make it her own. The story has not been told before. It is important new information and should be required reading for those interested in twentieth-century history, along with the works related to two famous Japanese Christian journalists, Uchimura Kanzo and Nitobe Inazo.” – Prof. John F. Howes, University of British Columbia

“. . . traces not only the changes occurring within international journalism, especially American new world journalism, but also, how Byas’ journalism combined with publisher Benjamin Fleisher’s international entrepreneurship, to influence how Japan and China were portrayed in newspapers in the United States and Europe. Oblas takes careful measure in this regard and highlights how Byas would contrast China to Japan in his works, interpreting events surrounding and including the Manchurian Crisis while reporting Japan’s progressive direction and depicting China as Asia’s ‘Sick Man.’ ” – Dr. Mineo Nakajima, President, Akita International University

Table of Contents

1. Fleisher, Byas and New World Journalism in Japan
2. Byas’ Discourse Education
3. From Burke to Baty
4. Activating the China Contrast
5. Byas, of the New York Times and London Times
6. Juridical Discourse, Diplomacy, Manchuria, 1931-1933
7. The Legacy of Discourse

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