Ulrich A. Straus
Born of German parents in Germany in 1926, Straus grew up in Japan during 1933-40. The family emigrated to the US, and in high school, he was tapped by the Army as a BIJ (Born In Japan) future candidate for the MISLS program. Entering the University of Michigan in 1944, he was permitted to attend the language program as a rare civilian. Getting into uniform a year later, he completed his basic training, and with the war over, the abbreviated Ml course at Fort Snelling.
Commissioned in January1946, Straus was shipped to Tokyo to serve in the Allied Translator and Interpreter Section billeted in the NYK Building in front of Tokyo Station. He worked on a series of translation projects, some involving letters to General MacArthur from the Japanese public, as well as in the processing in Uraga of diplomats, journalists and the like being repatriated from neutral European countries. During the latter part of 1946 and early 1947, Straus was assigned to the International Prosecution Section at the Class A War Crimes Trial at the old War Ministry Building. Working mostly with British Navy colleagues, he sifted through and wrote precis of thousands of official German documents, mostly telegrams, between Berlin and the German Embassy in Tokyo. He later was put in charge of a small team of Germans and Japanese who translated into Japanese and English those documents of interest to the international legal staff for use as evidence and certified the accuracy of the translations. From 1947 to mid-1948, Straus worked in G-2 Operations at GHQ, writing daily reports on political. economic and social developments for the Daity Intelligence Summary.
Returning to civilian life and the University of Michigan in 1948, Straus had barely enough time to earn his BA and MA in political science when he was recalled to active duty in 1951. He was eventually assigned to GHQ where he reassumed the position he had left earlier, spending over a year in G-2, part of it as a Department of Army civilian.
Straus returned to the University of Michigan in 1953 as a graduate student in political science. Awarded a Fulbright grant at Keio University, he did research for his never completed doctoral dissertaition. While in Tokyo, he successfully took the Foreign Service examination, and joined the State Department where he spent the next 30 years, of which 10 were spent in Japan and a total of 15 on the U.S-Japan relationship. He served in the Political Section of the American Embassy in Tokyo during the 1960 Ampo (Security Treaty) demonstrations; as deputy director of tbe Japan Desk in Washington during base negotiations and negotiations or the return of Okinawa and Iwo; and as Consul General on Okinawa from 1978 to 1982. Following service as director of Philippine affairs during thee Aquino assassination and on the faculty of the National War College, Straus retired in 1987.
Straus has maintained his deep interest in things Japanese. He has taught about Japan at George Washington University, College of William and Mary, Johns Hopkins University, Georgetown University, and tbe State Department's Foreign Service Institute, running the Japanese language Program at FSI for a few years. He has escorted groups of prominent Americans on tours of Japan, and similarly served groups of Japanese politicians visiting the U.S. He has also consulted with a variety of organizations on Japan, ranging from the National Gallery of Art to the National Defense University.
Married in 1959 to Sarah Wolcott, the couple, who reside in Silver Spring, Maryland, have three adult children and two grandchildren.