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Lane Earns

Nagasaki Kyoryuchi no Seiyojin (Westerners of the Nagasaki Foreign Settlement)

by Lane Earns, Department of History
Translated by Fumiko Fukuta, Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures and Kazuhiro Yanatori

Westerners of the Nagasaki Foreign Settlement by Lane EarnsThe book profiles more than 100 Westerners and the social, political, economic, cultural, religious and educational institutions they established in Nagasaki, Japan from the mid-19th century (the time of the town's designation as one of three ports available for foreign trade and residence in the aftermath of Perry's forced opening of the country) to the mid-20th century (the time of the American atomic bombing and subsequent occupation of the city). The Nagasaki foreign settlement played an important role in the modernization of Japan in that it was a stepping stone for the introduction of everything from steamships to bowling balls and a gateway for coal mining, railroads, newspaper publishing, shipbuilding and other forms of technology.

While the Nagasaki foreign settlement officially ceased to exist in 1899, some Westerners continued to live and work in Nagasaki up to the outbreak of WWII. And then on August 9, 1945, the Mitsubishi Shipyards - just
across the harbor from Nagasaki's former foreign settlement - became the target of the world's second atomic bomb. Due to cloud cover, however, the American pilots dropped the bomb a few miles to the north and it detonated almost directly overhead the largest Catholic Church in Japan. Over 70,000 people died in the
attack. Japan surrendered less than a week later and American Occupation troops arrived at the port on September 23rd and remained in some capacity until 1952.

Among the Westerners profiled in the book are Sara Couch, a Reformed Church missionary who came to teach in Nagasaki in 1893 and remained until her death in 1946 - after serving out the war in Japanese prisoner-of-war camps; Irvin and Jennie Correll, Methodist missionaries who relayed the story of the romance between a young Japanese woman and an American sailor in Nagasaki to Jennie's brother, Luther Long, who developed it into short novelette called Madame Butterfly - a work that inspired first a play and later Puccini's opera Madama Butterfly; Maximilian Kolbe, a Franciscan friar who from 1930-36 established a Japanese-language evangelical press and a seminary in Nagasaki before returning to his native Poland, where in 1939 he was arrested by the Germans and placed in a concentration camp - he died in Auschwitz of forced starvation August 1941; S.D. Lessner, a Russian-born Jew who was the richest and most influential Western merchant in Nagasaki at the turn of the 20th century before being blacklisted as a enemy alien during WWI due of his Austrian citizenship; R.H. Powers, an American merchant who arrived in Nagasaki in 1868, established a dry goods business, and later married a Japanese woman - he passed away in 1909 after more than four decades in Nagasaki and was survived by a daughter who went on to become Japan's first woman cabinet minister; Robert Foad and John Hutchings, British seamen who were hacked to death by passing Japanese samurai after falling asleep in a drunken stupor outside a Nagasaki "tea house" in 1867 - the incident nearly led to war between Japan and Britain; Dr. Mary Suganuma, an American physician who came to Nagasaki with her Japanese husband in 1893 and operated a women's hospital there for almost three decades; J.J. O'Brien and Risher Thornberry, who learned jujutsu in Nagasaki and later became pioneers in teaching the martial art to policemen and military personnel across the United States - O'Brien even taught his craft to President Theodore Roosevelt at the White House; and Victor Delnore and Winfield P. Niblo, who served with the U.S. Occupation Forces in Nagasaki after WWII - Delnore was a young Lebanese-American Lieutenant Colonel who headed a relatively enlightened occupation of the atomic-bombed city from 1946-49 and Niblo was the Education Officer who brought square dancing to Nagasaki because he believed that it was a useful tool for teaching democracy to young Japanese boys and girls (The emperor's brother became a devotee of square dancing and helped spread its popularity across the nation.).

Softcover, 280 pages; Publisher: Nagasaki Bunkensha (December 20, 2003); ISBN: 4-88851-020-2.

More Info

Lane Earns is Associate Vice Chancellor and Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. Between 1974 and 1986 he lived and worked in Nagasaki for five years and spent one year as a researcher at the University of Tokyo. Since his arrival in Oshkosh in 1987, he has made annual research visits to Nagasaki. E-mail him at

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by admin last modified Mar 04, 2010 02:12 PM