A Swiss Enigma

On Tuesday, December 8th, Temple University’s International Center of Japan Studies is hosting a talk by Hamish McDonald, an Australian journalist, who is writing a book on the life of Charles Bavier. Who was this fellow? I found the summary of the event to be fascinating.

Sometimes the most vivid insights into momentous events can come not from the great and famous people involved,but the participants in the retinues. Few individuals can have been involved in so many important episodes of Japan’s road to war and defeat mid-last century as Charles Bavier (1888-1977).

Swiss-born but left by his Yokohama merchant father to be raised by a Japanese mistress, Bavier grew to adulthood as Japan went to war with Russia, then joined the Japanese “China Ronin” fighting with Sun Yat-sen’s revolutionaries in 1911-12. After war service at Gallipoli with the Australian army, he returned to Japan in 1920 and stayed until forced out by rising militarism in 1936. He went to work for British intelligence in Singapore. Before it fell, he was withdrawn to Australia to devise Allied propaganda directed at Japan. He saw one son enlisted by the Kempetai in Singapore, and another fight with the Australians against Japan in New Guinea.

The venue is TUJ’s Mita Hall, Room 502. If anyone gets a chance to attend I’d love to hear about it.