SOAS University of London

Sir Hugh Cortazzi GCMG (1924-2018)

17 August 2018
Hugh Cortazzi

Sir Hugh Cortazzi, formerly British Ambassador to Japan (1980-1984) and Chairman of the Japan Society (1985-1995), died on Tuesday 14 August 2018, at the age of 94.

Sir Hugh joined the RAF on May 1943. He studied Japanese on joint services language course at SOAS from September 1943 through to December 1944. He was commissioned as acting Pilot Officer in May 1945 and served in India, South East Asia and Japan (British Commonwealth air contingent of occupation force). Hugh was demobilised in November 1947 and again studied Japanese at SOAS graduating with a BA in July 1949. He then went on to serve in the diplomatic service from October 1949 to May 1984; with overseas posts including Singapore, Bonn and Washington as well as Tokyo (1951-54, 1961-65, 1966-70 as commercial and economic counsellor, 1980-84 as British Ambassador). Hugh was appointed GCMG  in 1984. After retirement Hugh acted as director to three investment trusts and as adviser to Japanese and British firms. He was Chairman of the Japan Society 1985-1995. He received the Yamagata Banto prize in Osaka 1991 and the Grand Cordon of the Sacred Treasure in 1995. He has researched and written extensively about Japan and edited books about Anglo-Japanese relations.

In February 2016, Sir Hugh was a panelist for our event: 
Dulwich Boys and Beyond: 100 Years of Japanese Studies at SOAS

Throughout his life, Sir Hugh made an extremely valuable contribution furthering the understanding of Japan in the UK, and JRC members extend their deepest condolences to Lady Cortazzi and family.