Three Spartans are now recipients of The Order of the Rising Sun, an honor bestowed by the Japanese government to just 10 Americans this year.
In June, Paul K. Maruyama, ’66 Business, joined judo legend Yoshihiro Uchida and former U.S. Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell.
All three were members of the 1964 U.S. Olympic Judo Team that competed in Tokyo, with Uchida as coach, Campbell as heavyweight competitor, and Maruyama as lightweight competitor. Maruyama also served as head coach of the 1980 and 1984 U.S. Olympic judo teams.
With Uchida and Campbell in attendance, Maruyama received The Order of the Rising Sun medallion during a conferment ceremony at the residence of Japan’s consul general in Denver.
“I don’t even come close to being ranked in the same category as Ben and Yosh, but suffice it to say that we three SJSU alumni are honored to be recognized by the Japanese government for our contributions to strengthening ties between the people of Japan and of the United States, and we are all proud to be SJSU Spartans,” Maruyama said.
Maruyama was far too modest about his contributions. Here’s how Colorado College, where he was the first Japanese language instructor, sums up his achievements:
Maruyama is the author of “Escape from Manchuria,” which tells the story of his father and two friends who in 1946 devised a plan to escape to Japan from Soviet-occupied Manchuria. The book chronicles the courage and perseverance of the three men who eventually brought about the repatriation of 1.7 million Japanese civilians held captive under Soviet occupation in Manchuria.
He contributed to the promotion of mutual understanding between the two countries through teaching, both as an instructor of Japanese and as a judo instructor. Maruyama was one of the first Japanese language instructors at the U.S. Air Force Academy, and the first Japanese language instructor at Colorado College.
Maruyama is a founding member of the Japan America Society of Southern Colorado, which has been honored twice for its active engagement in cultural exchange. In addition, Maruyama is one of the founding members of the John Manjiro Whitfield Foundation of the USA. In 1996 and 2006, he played an instrumental role in hosting of the John Manjiro Grassroots Summit in Colorado Springs, which is the largest grassroots exchange of people between the United States and Japan.