In Memoriam: Ezra Vogel (1930–2020)

February 12, 2021

Ezra Vogel giving a talk in a lecture hall against a large computer screen

Ezra Vogel, Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences Emeritus at Harvard University, passed away on December 20, 2020, at age ninety. He was the founding director of the Program on U.S.-Japan Relations, and served in that capacity from 1980 to 1987. Since then, he remained an integral part of the program as honorary director. He was also a Weatherhead Center Faculty Associate from 1999–2000. In the early 1990s, he served in the Clinton administration before returning to Harvard as founding director of the Asia Center. 

Shinju Fujihira, executive director of the Program on U.S.-Japan Relations, fondly remembers Vogel as an ultimate “connector” and social capitalist who would introduce seminar speakers not by their degrees or book titles but what made them brilliant—and why the audience should devote their attention to them for the hour. Vogel made people feel, Fujihira recalls, as though they were the most important person in the universe. 

For more information, read the obituary in The Harvard Gazette. The Program on U.S.-Japan Relations held an event, "Ezra Vogel in U.S.-Japan Relations: Enduring Legacies," to pay tribute to their founding director on February 2, 2021. 

See also: In Memoriam