Wednesday, October 9, 2013

October 23, 2013: "The Man Who Might Have Been", A Film About Canadian Diplomat Herbert Norman

The Canada-Japan Society (CJS) and our friends at The Japan Society Canada are honoured to present a profound and moving documentary film about an important Canadian diplomat in our country’s historical relationship with Japan. “The Man Who Might Have Been” is a 1998 film from the National Film Board of Canada that poignantly portrays the life and death of Herbert Norman.

Born in Japan in 1909 to Canadian missionary parents, Norman developed a deep understanding of the country, its culture, its past and its people. He served at the Canadian legation in Tokyo during the 1940/41 period and later worked as an intelligence officer until the War’s end. After the War, he was assigned to U.S. General Douglas MacArthur’s occupation staff, and in 1946 was asked to tutor the Emperor’s young brother. Norman was bright, connected, innovative and essential to the success of the post-war effort.

During his remarkable career, Norman became a trusted aide of MacArthur, and later played a key role in the Suez crisis. However, during the “McCarthy era” in mid- 1950’s in America, his life tragically fell apart due to American assertions that he was a communist spy, culminating in his death in 1957.

The film weaves interviews conducted with historians, diplomats and secret service personnel, dramatic scenes filmed in Tokyo, Toronto, and Ottawa, and remarkable historical stills and stock footage spanning decades. The final product is a film that reminds Canadians of their place on the world stage, the power of history, and the challenges of fully understanding a life lived by an extraordinary man raised and trained not to reveal his feelings. We are grateful to many for the opportunity of showing this telling film and, in particular, to the National Film Board and Yoshio Nakatani.

The presentation will take place in the offices of McMillan LLP on the 44th floor of the Bay/Wellington Tower, Brookfield Place, 181 Bay Street, Toronto beginning at 5:00 PM on Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013.  Hors d'oeuvres and drinks will be served followed by the showing of the ninety minute film. There will be time for discussion and interaction with fellow attendees. 

The cost of the event will be $20 for CJS Members and $25 for Guests. Please RSVP by e-mail before October 19th to Jeff Harju ( to confirm your attendance.

We are very pleased to advise that this presentation is being hosted by The Japan Society and the Canada Japan Society, with the co-operation of the Japan External Trade Organization, and the Toronto Japanese Association of Commerce and Industry.

Offices of McMillan LLP
44th floor
Bay/Wellington Tower, Brookfield Place
181 Bay Street, Toronto
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
5:00pm start
Admission: $20 for CJS Members,
$25 for non-members and guests