Paul K. Maruyama Extends his Tribute to the Unsung Heroes And to an Almost Forgotten Piece of Japanese History

“Learn from the past, and do not repeat the mistakes of the past.”

Paul K. Maruyama wasa member of the 1964 U.S. Olympic judo team , founding member of the Japan-America Society of Southern Colorado, and a retired U.S. Air Force intelligence officer. With his contribution to Colorado and the rest of the world, it’s not surprising that he received the Lifetime Achievement Award n the recently held 2017 Asian American Heroes of Colorado awards ceremony.  In its ninth year, Colorado Asian Culture and Education Network announced the heroes wherein Paul happily received the award along with six othershonorees.

Paul is proud of his national identity as someone who grew up in Japan with both Japanese and American culture. In 2013, Paul was awarded a Japanese Imperial Decoration (Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette) in recognition of his efforts to promote U.S.-Japan relationships. “The decoration, awarded by the Emperor of Japan to individuals worldwide, recognizes lifetime achievement and a commitment to excellence, with an emphasis on significant and positive contributions to mutual understanding and friendship between the U.S. and Japan,” says Dan O. Yoshii, a member of Japan-America Society of Southern Colorado who nominated Paul for the Hero award.

Paul considers his book, “Escape from Manchuria,” his biggest achievement. Republished in April 2017 by Toplink Publishing, it  is a compelling story of the rescue and repatriation of over 1.5  million Japanese civilians stranded in Manchuria – a tale little remembered by the Japanese today and almost completely unknown by Americans. It is an excellent and detailed account of a sad yet inspirational aftermath of World War II.

In the chaotic days of Japan only one week before Japan’s unconditional surrender, which officially ended World War II, the Soviet Union invadedand occupied the Japanese puppet state of Manchuria called Manchukuo, routing the remaining and much-weakened Japanese Kwantung Army. It immediately led to hunger, misery, and death for the almost forgotten 1.7 million Japanese civilians who had settled in Manchuria, which is today’s Northern China.

Death toll continued to rise had it not been for three ordinary Japanese settlers of Manchuria who undertook an extraordinary and dangerous mission to escape and made their way to Japan and her post-War rulers, the U.S. Occupation Forces. The story of the three dauntless men, Kunio Maruyama, Hachiro Shinpo, and Masamichi Musashi and their heroic adventure of tirelessly appealing to the Japanese government not to forget the trapped colonists in Manchuria are chronicled in a much telling account by one of the men’s son, Paul Maruyama.

Caught between Chinese hostility and the Soviet Army’s atrocity, attacks against the utterly helpless Japanese residents, including rapes and murders, became an everyday horror. Thousands of helpless Japanese died daily. “General MacArthur and the US Occupation Forces;  the Nationalist Army of Chiang Kai Shek; and the Catholic Church in both Manchuria and in Japan –  all three entities aided my father and his companions to bring about the rescue of the Japanese, who were dying at the rate of 2,500 per day,” Paul says.

Paul Maruyama, who was just a child during his family’s ordeal, referred to the Japanese books written by his father and Musashi who told their story- a story of bravery, unrecognized by the Japanese government for they embarked on the rescue mission as private citizens. Maruyama wanted to give a fresh telling to the story among Japanese readers to remind them of an important historic episode without being political.

“This book is a sad but intriguing tale of war and the price paid by those who were innocent victims, not instigators, and is a moving tribute by the author to his father as one of the three valiant men.” Written in a clear context with vivid descriptions of the setting, plot and the characters’ feelings, the readers are drawn to the shocking situations of the survivors and the risks of living in animosity. As reviewed on Amazon, “Escape from Manchuria was captivating from the very beginning. It is very evident the author, Paul Maruyama, researched in depth the factual events along with all the translations of numerous books and documents. His personal interjections and the human drama keep the reader’s interest. The book is a labor of love and honors his father, one of the three courageous men who risked their lives for their countrymen.”

Paul reminds the readers, “Honor your parents who have sacrificed so much on your behalf. Learn what obstacles they had to overcome in order for you to live the happy life you live.”  

Paul K. Maruyama, Lt. Col., USAF (Retired),

Escape from Manchuria: The Rescue of 1.7 Million Japanese Civilians Trapped in Soviet-occupied Manchuria Following the End of World War II

Book Available on Toplink Publishing, Amazon, and other resellers

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About the Author

Paul K. Maruyama, Lt. Col., USAF (Retired), was born in Tokyo in 1941. Trapped with his family in Manchuria when WWII ended, he and his family were not repatriated to Japan until January, 1947. He retired from teaching Japanese at Colorado College in 2015 and liveswith his wife, LaRae, in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

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