George Atcheson Jr.

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George Atcheson Jr.

George C. Atcheson Jr. (born October 20, 1896 in Denver , Colorado , † August 17, 1947 in the Pacific west of Hawaii ) was an American diplomat.


After studying at UC Berkeley , which he graduated in 1919, Atcheson entered the foreign service and was transferred to the US Embassy in Beijing as a translation assistant in 1920 . From 1923 to 1924 he served as Vice Consul in Changsha and from 1926 to 1927 in North Bay , Ontario. He then returned to China and served as Vice Consul and Consul in Tianjin (1927–1928) and as Consul in Fuzhou (1928–1929).

In 1937 he was the second secretary of the US Embassy in Nanjing under Ambassador Nelson T. Johnson when the city was attacked by the Japanese during the Second Sino-Japanese War . He was one of the few embassy personnel left behind when the embassy evacuated to Chongqing on November 22nd and was an eyewitness to the attack on the gunboat USS Panay during the Panay incident . Atcheson then served until 1939 in China before he was recalled to Washington in the Far Eastern Division of the State Department to work. At the time of the Pearl Harbor raid , he was serving here as the department's assistant chief .

In 1943, he returned as a counselor (and in the absence of Ambassador Clarence E. Gauss chargé back to the US Embassy in Chongqing). In November 1944, Patrick J. Hurley became his new supervisor, with whom he had a marked dislike. One of his closest collaborators in Chongqing was John S. Service , who later made a name for himself with the famous " Dixie Mission ".

At the beginning of September 1945, shortly after the Japanese surrender and the occupation of Japan , he was appointed Political Advisor (POLAD) to the Allied Commander-in-Chief Douglas MacArthur at the instigation of the newly appointed United States Under Secretary of State Dean Acheson and reached the country on September 22 with escort by John Service. The appointment of the China expert Atcheson was a targeted snub to the previous Japan experts in the State Department, who were largely kept out of the occupation policy. Atcheson took a hard line against Emperor Hirohito and informed President Harry S. Truman in a report in early January 1946 that he viewed Hirohito as a war criminal and that the institution of the Tennō should be abolished as an obstacle to real democratization in Japan. At least Hirohito must abdicate. In October 1945 Atcheson was involved in the project to have the former Japanese Prime Minister Prince Konoe work on a revision of the Japanese constitution. When Konoe carelessly told the press that he had been asked to do so by MacArthur, the project was quietly buried and Atcheson was excluded from further involvement in constitutional matters.

From April 1946, Atcheson represented the United States in the Allied Council for Japan in addition to his position as POLAD . In the same month he established the diplomatic section of the highest occupation authority GHQ. In June 1946, President Truman elevated him to the personal rank of ambassador .

Atcheson died in August 1947 while on a trip to the United States for consultations when his plane crashed from a lack of gasoline after a storm about 100 kilometers west of Hawaii. Four senior officers of the GHQ traveled with him . Of the five passengers and eight crew members, three survived the Boeing B-17 crash .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Atcheson, George Jr., on , accessed October 6, 2015.
  2. ^ John W. Dower: Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II. WW Norton, New York 1999, p. 222.
  3. ^ Dower: Embracing Defeat , p. 327.
  4. Memos and Correspondence by George Atcheson, Jr., a political advisor to SCAP, on Prince Konoye on , accessed October 6, 2015.
  5. Report on the crash in the Sydney Morning Herald of August 19, 1947, accessed October 6, 2015.