Duus, Masayo 1938–

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Duus, Masayo 1938–

(Masayo Umezawa Duus)


Born in 1938, in Hokkaido, Japan; married Peter Duus (a professor of history). Education: Waseda University, B.A.


Home—Stanford, CA.




First Kōdansha Cultural Award for nonfiction, Kōdansha Publishing, 1977, for Tokyo Rose; Oya Prize and Sincho Gakugei Prize, both for The Japanese Conspiracy: The Oahu Sugar Strike of 1920; Kodansha Nonfiction Prize, 2000, for Isamu Noguchi.


Tōkyō Rōzu, Simul Press (Tokyo, Japan), 1976, published as Tokyo Rose: Orphan of the Pacific, translated by Peter Duus, introduction by Edwin O. Reischauer, Kōdansha International (New York, NY), 1979.

Haisha no okurimono (title means "Gift from a Loser"), Kōdansha International (Tokyo, Japan), 1979.

Duus Masayo no Amerika dayori (title means "Life in America"), Bungei Shunjū (Tokyo, Japan), 1979.

Watakushi ga kaeru futatsu no kuni, Bungei Shunjū (Tokyo, Japan), 1980.

Kariforunia Tsūshin, Bungei Shunjū (Tokyo, Japan), 1982.

(As Masayo Umezawa Duus) Buriea no kaihōshatachi, Bungei Shunjū (Tokyo, Japan), 1983 published as Unlikely Liberators: The Men of the 100th and 442nd, translated by Peter Duus, University of Hawaii Press (Honolulu, HI), 1987.

Hawai ni kaketa onna: hi no shima ni ikita ukeoishi, Iwasaki Tazuko, Bungei Shunjū (Tokyo, Japan), 1985.

Onnatachi, 18-nin no atsui yume, Shinchōsha (Tokyo, Japan), 1987.

(As Masayo Umezawa Duus) Nihon no inbō: Hawai Oafutō dai-sutoraiki no hikari to kage, Bungei Shunjū (Tokyo, Japan), 1991, published as The Japanese Conspiracy: The Oahu Sugar Strike of 1920, translated by Beth Carey and adapted by Peter Duus, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 1999.

Toppu gan no shi: kakutōsaiki suibotsu jiken/The Death of a Top Gun: The Story behind the Ticonderoga Nuclear Accident, Kōdansha International (Tokyo, Japan), 1994.

Isamu Noguchi: Shukumei no ekkyōsha, Kōdansha International (Tokyo, Japan), 2000, published as The Life of Isamu Noguchi: Journey without Borders, translated by Peter Duus, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 2004.

Contributor to Japanese periodicals.


Masayo Duus is the author of several works that explore the history of Japanese Americans and relations between the United States and Japan. In The Japanese Conspiracy: The Oahu Sugar Strike of 1920, the author examines a little-known event that uncovered anti-Japanese sentiment in Hawaii. In early 1920, immigrant Japanese sugar cane workers, who provided almost half of the work force on the Hawaiian sugar plantations, went on strike for higher wages. Although the strikers eventually gave up after six months, the repercussions of the strike had far-reaching consequences. After the dynamiting of a house occupied by a plantation official, the Hawaiian territorial government arrested fifteen strike leaders; their trial and conviction helped break the labor union. Additionally, the strike paved the way for the Hawaii Laborer's Association to lobby politicians in Washington, DC, to lift restrictions on the immigration of Chinese laborers. Duus also contends that the distrust between immigrant Japanese workers and the Hawaiian leaders eventually led to the passage of the Johnson-Reed Immigration Act of 1924 (often referred to as the Japanese Exclusion Act).

The Japanese Conspiracy garnered generally strong reviews. In Labor Studies Journal, Albert Vetere Lannon stated that the author presents a "well-written braided history that entwines colonialism, U.S. politics, ethnic separation, Japanese nationalism, employer anti-unionism, government strikebreaking, and racial discrimination. Duus tells a richly detailed story, one that students and teachers of labor issues, ethnic—especially Asian—interests and readers of good history will appreciate." H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online reviewer Edward D. Beechert noted that "the author presents an interesting and useful picture of the important event from a Japanese perspective." Dennis M. Ogawa, writing in the Journal of American Ethnic History, remarked that one of the work's strengths is Duus's "profound understanding that history is a human drama. She … provide[s] an insightful narrative of the key people involved in the strike. Her observations are unbiased, revealing and credible and yet down to earth so that the character and personality of the individuals emerge as ‘real’ players."

In The Life of Isamu Noguchi: Journey without Borders, Duus offers a portrait of the celebrated sculptor, designer, architect, and craftsman. The illegitimate son of an American woman and a Japanese poet, Isamu Noguchi struggled with issues of self-identity throughout his life. According to Booklist contributor Steve Paul, "This studious and sympathetic biography … defines the essence of Noguchi … as a lifelong struggle against unbelonging." Amy Lyford, writing in Art Journal, called the work "a refreshing change of pace. Duus highlights the diversity of Noguchi's life and artistic experience while refraining, for the most part, from pigeonholing him as an artist whose work reflects an essentially Japanese aesthetic. This approach is most welcome because an urge to define his work as inherently Japanese, or as an ideal synthesis of ‘East and West,’ has permeated the writing on Noguchi for years." In the Japan Times, Donald Richie also praised Duus's effort, stating, "The amount of material given is prodigious and her labors must have been enormous."

Duus once told CA: "I am interested in United States-Japanese relations, especially during the occupation period, 1945-51, and in the history of Japanese Americans during World War II."



Art Journal, winter, 2006, "Noguchi's Multiform Modernism," review of The Life of Isamu Noguchi: Journey without Borders, p. 121.

Booklist, October 1, 2004, Steve Paul, review of The Life of Isamu Noguchi, p. 291.

Japan Times, December 19, 2004, Donald Richie, "Stamp of Identity for Artist of a Troubled Double Heritage," review of The Life of Isamu Noguchi.

Journal of American Ethnic History, fall, 2000, Dennis M. Ogawa, review of The Japanese Conspiracy: The Oahu Sugar Strike of 1920, p. 99.

Labor Studies Journal, winter, 2001, Albert Vetere Lannon, review of The Japanese Conspiracy, p. 114.

Midwest Book Review, October, 2004, Henry Berry, review of The Life of Isamu Noguchi.

New Criterion, February, 2005, James Panero, review of The Life of Isamu Noguchi, p. 76.


H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online, http://hnet.org/ (February 23, 2000), Edward D. Beechert, review of The Japanese Conspiracy.