Paul Rusch in Postwar Japan: Evangelism, Rural Development, and the Battle against Communism
Paul Rusch first traveled from Louisville, Kentucky, to Tokyo in 1925 to help rebuild YMCA facilities in the wake of the Great Kanto earthquake. What was planned as a yearlong stay became his life's work as he joined with the Japan Episcopal Church to promote democracy and Western Christian ideals. Over the course of his remarkable life, Rusch served as a college professor and Episcopal missionary, and he was a catalyst for agricultural development, introducing dairy farming to highland Japan. In Paul Rusch in Postwar Japan, Andrew T. McDonald and Verlaine Stoner McDonald present Rusch's life as an epic story that crisscrosses two cultures, traversing war and peace, destruction and rebirth, private struggle and public triumph. As World War II approached, Rusch battled racial prejudice against Japanese Americans, yet also became an apologist for Japan's expansionist foreign policy. After Pearl Harbor, he was arrested as an enemy alien and witnessed the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo. Upon his release to the US in 1942, he joined military intelligence and returned to Japan in that capacity during the US occupation. Though Rusch was of modest origins, he deftly climbed social and military ladders to befriend some of the most intriguing figures of the era, including prime ministers and members of the Japanese royal family. Though he is perhaps best remembered for introducing organized American football in Japan, his greatest legacy is the founding of the Kiyosato Educational Experiment Project (KEEP), a vehicle for feeding, educating, and uplifting the rural poor of highland Japan. Today his legacy continues to inspire KEEP in the twenty-first century to promote peace, cultural exchange, environmental sustainability, and ecological preservation in Japan and beyond.