Established in 1984, with the explicit support of the Reischauer family, the Edwin O. Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies at SAIS actively supports the research and study of transpacific and intra-Asian relations, to advance mutual understanding between Northeast Asia and the United States.
The first Japanese-born and Japanese-speaking U.S. Ambassador to Japan (1961-1966), Edwin O. Reischauer started his career teaching at Harvard University and eventually became the director of Harvard's Yenching Institute. He helped pave the way to bringing East Asian studies to American schools. In 1961, President Kennedy chose Edwin O. Reischauer to be the American ambassador to Japan. With a strictly academic background, Reischauer was an unusual choice for the position. However, he embraced the ambassadorship and sought to strengthen the alliance between the United States and Japan. Following his stint at the embassy in Tokyo, Reischauer returned to academic life at Harvard and spent his remaining years giving lectures, promoting US-Japan relations, and writing.
Edwin Reischauer served as Honorary Chair of the Edwin O. Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies at SAIS from its founding to 1990. His wife Haru Matsukata Reischauer followed as Honorary Chair from 1991 to 1998. They both exemplified the deep commitment to public service and transpacific communication that the Reischauer Center aspires to perpetuate in its scholarly and cultural activities today.