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Engaging Japan: An American Naval Officer's Relationship with Japan during the Cold War

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image of Journal of American-East Asian Relations

It all started on 2 June 1963, the day I graduated from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. That same day, I was commissioned as an ensign in the United States Navy. Although ensigns are lowest in the pecking order of naval officers, I got my first choice of duty, a coastal minesweeper homeported in Sasebo, Japan. I knew nothing of Japan, but my junior and senior year Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps instructor convinced me that small ship duty (“where you will immediately be a department head”) was preferable to serving on an aircraft carrier (“where you will be the assistant Coca Cola procurement officer”). Since I was single, I also desired to test the World War I Navy recruiting slogan, “Join the Navy and See the World!” Sasebo was the most remote place where the Navy based ships, and Japan sounded exciting.


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