Prominent Attorney and Former Japan Society President Shares His Life Story about Growing up Jewish in War-torn Japan

For Immediate Release

Isaac Shapiro:
Edokko — Growing Up a Foreigner in Wartime Japan

Thursday, January 14, 2010, 6:30 pm at Japan Society

New York, NY -- Isaac Shapiro, a prominent Manhattan corporate attorney (now retired) and former president of Japan Society (1970-77), shares his life story about growing up as a Jew in Japan during World War II. Part of Japan Society's continuing Authors on Asia Series, Mr. Shapiro draws from his recently published autobiography Edokko: Growing up a Foreigner in Wartime Japan, a fascinating tale of his Russian/Jewish/Chinese/Japanese upbringing. Moderated by Rabbi Marvin Tokayer, Honorary Lifetime Rabbi, Jewish Community of Japan, Isaac Shapiro: Edokko — Growing Up a Foreigner in Wartime Japan takes place Thursday, January 14 at 6:30 pm, and is followed by a book signing.

After escaping revolution and anti-Semitism in early 20th Century Russia, Isaac Shapiro's parents met in Berlin and fell in love. As Hitler rose to power, they realized the danger of remaining in Europe and continued their odyssey first to Palestine and ultimately to the relative safety of China and Japan. In 1931 Tokyo, Isaac was born. The first eleven years of his life were relatively stable, but the sudden onset of World War II with the bombing of Pearl Harbor altered the course of the family's life yet again. They moved from city to city in war-torn Japan, surviving privations and the bombing of Japan by the U.S. The subsequent U.S. occupation led Isaac to be befriended by a U.S. Marine Colonel from far-off Arkansas gave Isaac the opportunity to immigrate to America.

Isaac Shapiro was born in Tokyo to Russian Jewish parents in 1931. After spending 5 years in Harbin, he returned to Japan in 1936, where he remained until immigrating to the United States in 1946, after the end of World War II. Mr. Shapiro spent 30 years at the New York Law Firm of Millbank, Tweed, Hadley, & McCloy, including a two years as head of their Tokyo office. In 1986, he joined the firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher, and Flom, where he retired as a partner in 2001. Mr. Shapiro played an active leadership role in Japan related cultural institutions in New York, including serving as President of Japan Society from 1970 to 1977 and President of the Isamu Noguchi Museum from 1985 to 2005. Mr. Shapiro has taught at the law schools of Columbia University and Stanford University. In 2006, he was decorated with The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon by the Emperor of Japan for his service in promoting U.S.-Japanese cultural relations. In 2009, iUniverse published his autobiography Edokko: Growing up a Foreigner in Wartime Japan. David A. Andelman, Editor, World Policy Journal noted, "This is an uplifting and inspiring work by one of America's great attorneys and international thinkers." More info at

Marvin Tokayer served as United States Air Force Chaplain in Japan. Upon discharge he returned to Tokyo to serve for eight years as the rabbi for the Jewish Community of Japan. He wrote 20 books in Japanese, including several bestsellers; discovered literally the last of the Chinese Jews; located a long-lost Jewish cemetery in Nagasaki; contributed to the Encyclopedia Judaica; acted as a bridge for many travelers between East and West; served the needs of his congregation; and became spellbound by the threads of a story which he began piecing together. His investigation of the facts took him throughout Asia, to Israel and Washington D.C. as he searched for documents and tracked down the people, both Jewish and Japanese, who had taken part in the rescue of Jews from the Holocaust, which he published in his bestselling book, The Fugu Plan.

Isaac Shapiro: Edokko — Growing Up a Foreigner in Wartime Japan is on Thursday, January 14 at 6:30 pm. Japan Society is located at 333 East 47th Street between First and Second avenues (accessible by the 4/5/6 at 42nd Street-Grand Central Station or the E and V at Lexington Avenue and 53rd St.) Tickets are $11/$7 Japan Society members, seniors & students. For reservations visit or call the box office at 212-715-1258. For further information call 212-832-1155 or visit the website.

# # #

Media Contacts:

Shannon Jowett
Japan Society
T: (212) 715-1205
F: (212) 715-1262

Kuniko Shiobara
Japan Society
T: (212) 715-1249
F: (212) 715-1262

Calendar of Events

October 2017

S M T W Th F S
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31        
  • No events on this date.
All content © 2017, Japan Society, unless otherwise noted. |
333 East 47th Street New York, NY 10017 Phone: 212.832.1155 |
Credits | Press | Contact Us | Privacy Policy