Dr. Inazo Nitobe’s last message (August 14, 1933 in Banff, Alberta)

Last September, the Consulate introduced Dr. Inazo Nitobe on its website.

He was born in Morioka, Iwate on September 1, 1962 and is well-known for his famous work “Bushido: The Soul of Japan”. He was also a great diplomat, who served as the Under-Secretary General of the League of Nations from 1920 to 1927.

On this day, the Consulate would like to introduce Dr. Nitobe’s last work before his death.

Japan announced its withdrawal from the League of Nations in 1933. In fall of the same year, Dr. Nitobe, as Japan’s head of delegation, attended the fifth conference of the Institute of Pacific Relations in Banff, Alberta. This marked his last work. (He passed at the age of 71, following a surgical operation in Victoria, B.C. on October 15, 1933.)

On August 14, 1933, Dr. Nitobe delivered a speech at the conference’s inaugural dinner. It happened exactly 90 years ago. It is said that Dr. Nitobe had repeatedly refined his work before its submission. Amid the situation surrounding Japan getting worse, he seems to have found great importance on attending this conference. The speech he delivered that day still remains with us. The Consulate would like to introduce the last sentence of that text.

“Is it too much to hope then that in the intimate contact of the nationals from all over the earth the day will gradually come when not passion but reason, when not self-interest but justice will become the arbiter of races and nations?”

Earlier, when asked about his reason for applying then-Imperial University (now the University of Tokyo), Dr. Nitobe stated “I wish I could be a bridge over the Pacific”. Even though his wish went unfulfilled at the conference in 1933, it still should be worth remembering that he made his best efforts to be “a bridge over the Pacific” just a month before his death.