Consul in Japan, 1903-1941
Oswald White’s Memoir ‘All Ambition Spent’
Amsterdam University Press
A rare account by a foreigner working in Japan in the 20th century; a unique insight into this important period of Japan's history; complements existing material. First a student interpreter, then an assistant in Korea, Vice-Consul in Yokohama and Osaka, Consul in Nagasaki and Dairen, then Consul-General in Seoul, Osaka, Mukden and Tientsin. Not a contemporary diary as such, but a write-up of notes made towards the end of White's career spanning thirty-eight years. Importantly, it includes reflective passages on the momentous developments of the later 1930s, as Japan moved onto a war-footing in China - and as Consul-General in the Chinese treaty port of Tianjin under Japanese occupation, White was in the middle of the growing tensions between Britain and Japan. His post-war recollections are also valuable. Like others who had lived and worked in Japan, he sought to come to terms with what had happened to the country in which he had spent so much of his adult life. Along the way he provides fascinating vignettes of his colleagues, some well known, others less so, while his service in Seoul, Mukden (now Shenyang) and Tianjin provides fresh material on the Japanese colonial empire.
Hugo Read is the great-grandson of Oswald White who spent 38 years in the Japan Consular Service (1903-1941). White's 'Japan memoir' was entitled All Ambition Spent, mostly written pre-1939 but completed towards the end of the war. Hugo Read is also the author of a portrait of Oswald White published in Britain & Japan: Biographical Portraits, Vol. X. He works in the telecoms industry, and is a wine consultant and member of the Association of Wine Educators. He writes on food, drink, travel.