- October 12, 1973
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Biographical / Historical
Hugh Borton (1903-1995) was a renowned author and scholar of Japanese History. Borton's first experience with Japan was in 1928 when he and his wife, Elizabeth, were asked to travel to Japan by the American Friends Service Committee. After working in Japan for 3 years, Borton returned to the States and continued his education at Columbia University and Harvard before recieving his PhD from Lieden University in the Netherlands. Borton then returned to Columbia University, where he joined the faculty and lectured on modern Japanese history and language. He was also instrumental in the establishment of the first undergraduate program in Japanese Studies. With the onset of World War II, Borton joined the State Department, where he worked from 1942 to 1948 as Japanese Affairs Division chief and special assistant to the director of Far Eastern Affairs. There he worked on preparing a peace treaty for Japan that was forced on reform rather than punishment. Borton was integral in key decisions like not prosecuting Emperor Hirohito, the decision to keep the Japanese government, but disband the military and its leaders, and reform of the Japanese constitution. After leaving the State Department, Borton returned to Columbia where he established the Association of Asian Studies and directed the East Asian Institute. In 1957, Borton resigned at Columbia to serve as the President of Haverford College, where he completed his undergraduate degree 30 years prior. In 1972, he retired to a farm in Massachusetts and in 1995, Hugh Borton died in his home at the age of 92.