Born in Los Angeles in 1915, Tsukahira became interested in studying Japanese when he graduated high school, and at the suggestion of his parents, Kuhei and Kikue, who owned the Tokyo Company (drygoods and mens wear store) in Little Tokyo, he sailed for Japan to further his education. He had no particular school in mind, knowing only that he would be staying with an uncle in Tokyo, but aboard ship he was befriended by the coach and team of the Meiji University basketball team returning from a tour abroad, and that sealed his immediate educational fate. He enrolled at Meiji from 1933-1936; learned Japanese the hard way, i.e., through self study; and emerged with an Associate of Arts degree.
Returning home, he entered UCLA, receiving his BA and MA degrees in history in 1939 and 1941. As recounted in his presentation, he was hired as a civilian instructor in the newly organized Fourth Army Intelligence School at the Presidio, San Francisco to teach Japanese. Later, as an Army officer, he served with the Pacific Military Intelligence Research Section, Camp Ritchie, Maryland, and with the Washington Document Center (Advanced) in Tokyo.
After discharge, Tsukahira continued his graduate education at Harvard University, receiving his PhD in history and Far Eastern languages in 1951. He taught history at Harvard and UC Berkeley before joining the Department of State in 1955. As a U.S. Foreign Service officer, he was on overseas assignment as a political officer in the American Embassies in Tokyo and in Bangkok, and also as the American Consul in Fukuoka, Japan.
Since his retirement in 1975, he has served as visiting professor of history at several major universities and institutions. Tsukahira's major publications are Postwar Development of Japanese Communist Strategy (MIT: 1954); Feudal Control in Tokugawa Japan: The Sankin Kotai System (Harvard University Press: 1966); and the "Foreign Relations" chapter in Japan: a Country Study (American University: 1982). Tsukahira is married to the former Lilly Yuriko Fujioka, also originally from Los Angeles. Mrs. Tsukahira operates the Yuriko Gallery (in Bethesda, Maryland, where the couple reside), which specializes in modern Japanese prints. His hobbies include music, golf, gardening, and translating modern Japanese literature. He is a member of the board of directors of the Japanese American Veterans Association.
[Courtesy of the Japanese American Veterans' Association, MIS in the War Against Japan, Personal Experiences Related at the 1993 MIS Capital Reunion, "The Nisei Veteran: An American Patriot", Edited by Stanley L. Falk and Warren Tsuneishi, 1995.]