Direct diplomatic relations between Canada and Japan began in 1929, when Canada sent an envoy to Japan and Japan opened an embassy in Ottawa. After the US and France, this was the third foreign legation opened by Canada outside of the British Commonwealth. The first Japanese ambassador to Canada was Prince Tokugawa Iemasa, the son of the direct heir to the last shogun of Japan.
Diplomatic relations between Japan and Canada were broken off right after Pearl Harbour. After World War II, Canada sent representatives to Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who was in effect ruling Japan as supreme commander of the Allied Forces occupying Japan. Thereafter, the Canadian representative became a full Ambassador in 1952. From 1964 to 1974, the Ambassador to Japan also served concurrently as the Ambassador to South Korea.
The Embassy of Canada in Japan is at 7-3-38 (i.e., building 38, block 3, chōme [sub-district] 7), Akasaka district, Minato City ward, Tokyo. In addition to the embassy in Tokyo, there are Canadian consulates in Nagoya, Osaka, Sapporo, Fukuoka, and Hiroshima, as well as trade offices in Osaka, Sapporo, and Kitakyushu.
The representatives of Canada to Japan have been:
Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary
The Hon. Sir Herbert Meredith Marler KCMG PC (1876-1940), 1929-36. A public notary from Montreal who studied law at McGill, Marler was the Liberal MP for St.Lawrence–St. George from 1921 to 1925 and Minister Without Portfolio in the Cabinet of Mackenzie King. During his time as Canadian Minister to Japan he considered himself the envoy to the whole of the Orient, and involved himself in affairs with China. He was knighted in 1935; then, Sir Herbert was then appointed Minister to the US in 1936, retiring from ill health three years later.
The Hon. Robert Randolph Bruce (1861-1942), 1936-38. Bruce was born in Scotland and studied engineering at the University of Glasgow before coming to British Columbia in 1897 to be a prospector, starting up a lead and silver mine in the Kootenays and getting stonking rich from mining and land speculation. He was then the Lieutenant-governor of British Columbia from 1926 to 1931. He ran for Parliament as a Liberal in the 1935 general election, but lost. He was then appointed as envoy to Tokyo, where he stayed for two years before quitting and retiring to Montreal.
Edgar D’Arcy McGreer (1898-1974), 1938-41. Born in Napanee, Ont., D’Arcy McGreer served in World War I and joined the Department of External Affairs in 1927, eventually being appointed to the Tokyo legation in 1936, taking over when R.R. Bruce left in 1938. After Pearl Harbour, it was McGreer who sent the telegram to W.L. Mackenzie King informing him that Japan had declared war on Canada. McGreer was returned to Canada in 1942 in a swap of diplomatic officials, and spent the rest of the war in Ottawa. He was later High Commissioner to South Africa, envoy to Denmark, envoy to Poland, Ambassador to Israel, and Ambassador to Greece.
Head of Mission to the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers
Egerton Herbert Norman (1909-57), 1946-50. Herbert Norman was born and raised in Karuizawa, Japan, the son of Canadian Methodist missionaries. He studied at the University of Toronto and at Cambridge, then studied Japanese history at Harvard before joining the foreign service in 1939, almost immediately going to the Tokyo legation. He returned to Ottawa with D’Arcy McGreer in 1942; when the war ended in 1946, Norman was chosen to represent Canada to Douglas MacArthur’s occupying force in Japan. During his time there, Norman continued his scholarly interests in the country and wrote several works on Japanese history. By 1950 the US Department of State suspected Norman of having Communist sympathies, even possibly being a Soviet agent. He was shielded from these accusations by his longtime friend and superior, Secretary of State for External Affairs Lester Pearson. Norman was then appointed High Commissioner to New Zealand in 1953, then Ambassador to Egypt in 1956, where he was charged with organizing Canada’s role in the UN peacekeeping mission during the Suez Crisis. Unable to cope with being continuously dogged by accusations of Soviet espionage by the American government, Norman committed suicide in Cairo in April of 1957, leaping from an eighth-storey window at the Swedish embassy.
Arthur Redpath Menzies CM (1916-2010), 1950-52. Menzies was born to Canadian Presbyterian missionaries in Changde, in the Hunan province of southern China. His father, James Mellon Menzies, was a part-time archaeologist who made a study of “oracle bones”, bits of sheep bone and turtle shell etched with early examples of Chinese writing. Arthur Menzies graduated from high school in Kobe, Japan, then studied at U of T and Harvard. He joined the foreign service in 1940, soon thereafter marrying the daughter of Undersecretary for External Affairs O.D. Skelton. Menzies was in charge of the ministry’s Far Eastern department by 1945, then replaced Norman as head of mission to Tokyo in 1950. Menzies was later High Commissioner to Burma and the Malay States from 1958 to 1963 and High Commissioner to Australia from 1965 to 1972 before receiving his dream posting as Ambassador to China, serving from 1976 to 1980.
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
The Hon. Robert Wellington Mayhew PC (1880-1971), 1952-54. Born in Cobden, Ont., Mayhew moved to Victoria, B.C., as a young man and founded a prosperous roofing-supply company. He was elected the Liberal MP for Victoria from 1937 to 1952, the last four years of which time he served as Minister of Fisheries. After leaving his post in Tokyo, Mayhew retired from public life.
The Hon. Thomas Clayton Davis (1889-1960), 1954-57. Davis was born in Prince Albert, Sask., and studied at Osgoode Hall Law School. He was mayor of Prince Albert from 1921 to 1924 and a Liberal member of the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan from 1925 to 1939, in which position he convinced the federal government to found Prince Albert National Park. He was appointed to serve as a judge of the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal from 1939 to 1948, although he did not actually serve on the bench from 1940 to 1948, as he was serving as the federal Deputy Minister of War Services from 1940 to 1943, then as High Commissioner to Australia from 1943 to 1946 and Ambassador to China from 1946 to 1949. He was then Ambassador to West Germany from 1949 to 1954 and Ambassador to Japan from 1954 to 1957; thereafter, he retired to Victoria.
William Frederick Bull (1904-?), 1957-62. Born in Weston, Ont., Fred Bull was an economic attaché to Washington during World War II. He became director of the Export Division of the Department of Trade and Commerce in 1945, then was Deputy Minister of Trade and Commerce from 1951 to 1957 before being appointed as Ambassador to Japan. Bull was later Ambassador to the Netherlands from 1963 to 1968.
Richard Plant Bower (1905-96), 1962-66. Bower was born in Kansas City, Mo., and moved to Canada to study at the University of Manitoba. He joined the foreign service in 1926 and was sent as a trade commissioner to the Netherlands. He served as Ambassador to Venezuela from 1954 to 1958 and Ambassador to Argentina from 1958 to 1962, serving concurrently as ambassador to Paraguay and Uruguay from 1961 to 1962. During his time as Ambassador to Japan, Bower was concurrently named Canada’s first Ambassador to South Korea in 1964. Bower was later Ambassador to West Germany from 1966 to 1970.
Herbert Owen Moran MBE (1908-2002), 1966-72. Herb Moran was born in Waterloo, studied at Osgoode Hall Law School and was called to the bar in Ontario in 1935. He joined the Army as an officer in 1940 and left it in 1946 with the rank of Colonel, immediately joining the foreign service. He was Ambassador to Turkey from 1952 to 1957 and High Commissioner to Pakistan from 1957 to 1960. He returned to Ottawa in 1960 and served as director-general of the External Aid Office for six years, until his posting to Tokyo in 1966. Moran retired from public service in 1972.
Ross Campbell OC DSC (1918-2007), 1972-75. Campbell studied law at U of T and served in the Navy in World War II, earning the Distinguished Service Cross, and retired as a lieutenant-commander. He joined External Affairs shortly after the war and was appointed as Ambassador to Yugoslavia from 1964 to 1967; he was concurrently appointed as Canada’s first Ambassador to Algeria in 1965. From 1967 to 1972 Campbell was Ambassador to NATO. Campbell left the diplomatic service after finishing his posting in Tokyo in 1975; he then served as Chairman of Atomic Energy of Canada, Ltd. From 1975 to 1980.
Bruce Irving Rankin OC (1918-86), 1976-81. Rankin was born in Brandon, Man., and studied at the University of Alberta. He served in the Navy in World War II, retiring as a lieutenant-commander. He joined the diplomatic corps in 1945 and was posted as a commercial secretary in Shanghai, fleeing aboard a British vessel breaking the Nationalist blockade of the port when the Communists took the city in 1949. He then served in various posts until serving as ambassador to Venezuela and the Dominican Republic from 1964 to 1970 and Consul-General in New York City from 1970 to 1976 before his appointment as Ambassador to Japan.
Ian Barry Connell Steers (1927-2011), 1981-89. Barry Steers was born in London, Ont., and studied at UWO. He joined the Trade Commissioner Service in 1956 and eventually became a diplomat, serving as Ambassador to Brazil from 1971 to 1976, then as the first Canadian Commissioner to Bermuda from 1976 to 1979. Steers retired to the private sector in 1990, drawing from a decade of experience in dealings with Japan, and was the first director of the Canadian Japan Society.
James Hutchings Taylor (1930-now), 1989-92. “Si” Taylor grew up in Hamilton and went to McMaster, then to Oxford on a Rhodes scholarship. He joined the diplomatic corps in 1953, serving as Ambassador to NATO from 1982 to 1985 and Undersecretary of State for External Affairs from 1985 to 1989. Taylor was later chancellor of McMaster University from 1992 to 1998.
Donald Wilfred Campbell (1940-now), 1993-97. Born in Drayton, Ont., Campbell attended the University of Waterloo and thereafter joined the diplomatic corps. He was Ambassador to South Korea from 1984 to 1985, and spent some time in charge of relations with the United States before being appointed as Deputy Minister of International Trade from 1989 to 1993. Returning from Japan in 1997, Campbell was made Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs until retiring to the private sector in 2000.
Leonard J. Edwards, 1997-2001. Len Edwards was born in Melfort, Sask., and joined the civil service in 1969. Edwards was Ambassador to South Korea from 1991 to 1994. After leaving Tokyo, Edwards was Deputy Minister of International Trade from 2001 to 2004, Deputy Minister of Agriculture from 2004 to 2007, and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2007 to 2010. His daughter is the singer-songwriter Kathleen Edwards.
Robert G. Wright, 2001-05. Robert Wright went to McGill and joined the civil service in 1971; he served in various diplomatic and economic posts until his appointment as Deputy Minister of International Trade in 1995, then as Ambassador to Japan in 2001. He went on to serve as Ambassador to China from 2005 to 2009. His brothers, James Wright and David Wright, were also high-ranking Canadian diplomats.
Joseph Caron, 2005-08. Caron attended the University of Ottawa and joined the Trade Commissioner Service in 1972, serving in Saigon and Ankara before a long assignment in Tokyo. He spent most of the 1980s in private-sector dealings in the Far East, before working in Ottawa for the Department of Foreign Affairs in the 1990s, eventually serving as Ambassador to China from 2001 to 2005.
Jonathan T. Fried, 2008-12. Fried went to U of T and Columbia University. He was principal counsel to the Canadian government for NAFTA negotiations from 1991 to 1993, and served as chair of the OAS in 1996. Fried has been Canada’s Ambassador to the WTO since 2012.
Mackenzie Clugston (1950-now), 2012-now. Clugston was born in Kobe, Japan. He went to Trent and Queen’s and joined the foreign service in 1982, and was a diplomat in Japan from 1985 to 2009, then was Ambassador to Indonesia from 2009 to 2012.