Later Japan

Linus Pauling with President Matsuda at Tokai University, 1975.

Sixteen years passed between Linus Pauling’s participation in the 1959 Hiroshima Conference and his next visit to Japan in Fall 1975.  And while the 1975 trip largely dealt with his findings and research on Vitamin C – a common theme for many of his travels to East Asia and elsewhere – some of his time was devoted to peace-related talks and activities.

Notably, Pauling attended a symposium of the Keidanren Kaikan Memorial Lecture in Tokyo, and a symposium of the Memorial Lecture at Hiroshima-Ishikaikan in Hiroshima. He also attended the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship of Japan and presented a paper titled “Reverence for Life and the Way to World Peace” in Tokyo.  His short “peace tour” likewise included his making a guest appearance on a talk show with Dr. Soichi Iijima, and following that up with a lecture, delivered at a high school in Hiroshima, titled “The Development of Science and the Future of Mankind.”

Then the vitamin C tour began. In the preface to the Japanese translation of his book Vitamin C, the Common Cold, and the Flu, Pauling described the budding of his interest in vitamin C. In it, he describes the familiar story of his initial intrigue in learning of the effectiveness of large doses of vitamins in controlling schizophrenia. Not long after,  a biochemist, Irwin Stone, wrote to Pauling of his own findings on vitamin C, health and disease, which further spurred Pauling’s own interest and compelled him to begin his own program of research.

As time passed and Pauling’s advocacy grew, he increasingly sought to spread this growing body of work around the world, including his stops in Japan. In 1975 Pauling went to Fukuoka with Dr. Fukumi Morishige (who would become a close colleague) to meet with fellow vitamin C researchers and discuss new ideas and experiments. While in Saga he likewise gave lectures on vitamin C to researchers and students at Tokai University. In October, near the end of his trip, he visited with a series of dignitaries including Kenzaburo Gushima, the President of Nagasaki University, and Yoshitake Morotani, the Mayor of Nagasaki. In these meetings Pauling exchanged thoughts on a number of ideas, including peace, but was also keen to discuss his favorite nutritional topic, vitamin C.

Five years later, Pauling and his wife made another trip to Japan in March and April of 1980. By this point, Pauling wanted very much to convince others that vitamin C lay at the heart of treating many ailments, and his activities during the 1980 trip are indicative of the fervor with which he pursued this goal.

Pauling began the trip by giving a talk to the general public on the health benefits of ascorbic acid. He then attended the general meeting of the Society of Japan Agricultural Chemistry at Fukuoka University, the topic of which was vitamin C and cancer. At the conclusion of this meeting he was made an honorary member of the Society. Next, at Kyoto University, he gave a lecture titled “What Can We Expect for Chemistry in the Next 100 Years?” after which he attended another symposium on vitamin C and participated in a vitamin C committee meeting at Cakushi Kaikan.  Prior to returning home, Pauling gave another lecture, “Prevention from Disease -Vitamin C, the Common Cold and Cancer,” and also found a spare moment to write a letter to the editor of Time about Vitamin C and cancer that clarified his thoughts on the vitamin’s relationship to cancer therapy.

Ava Helen Pauling and Dr. Yashie Souma, 1980.

In 1981 Pauling traveled to Japan on two short, separate occasions. The first visit was for the International Conference on Human Nutrition. During the second he appeared on Japanese television discussing orthomolecular medicine with Drs. Kitahara and Morishige.   A few days later he gave a lecture on the same topic to the Japanese Pharmacist Association.

Upon his return home, Pauling maintained a regular correspondence with Dr. Morishige about Morishige’s vitamin C research. He specifically wanted to know if Morishige had tested it on patients suffering from gastrointestinal cancer, noting his very personal reasons for doing so: this was the type of cancer from which Ava Helen was, at the time, suffering. Morishige wrote back to Pauling in September giving him a treatment plan that he thought might aid in slowing down the disease. Pauling attempted to act on this recommendation, but a variety of barriers arose to its implementation.  Less than three months later, she passed away.

Morishige's prescription.

In the years following, Pauling visited Japan three more times. Most of these trips, at least in part, involved his continuing efforts to secure financial support for the Linus Pauling Institute of Science and Medicine. In concert with his travels in 1981, Pauling wrote to the industrialist Ryoichi Sasakawa, asking his permission to establish a Ryoichi Sasakawa Research Professorship in Cancer Research. Pauling also requested that Sasakawa to endow the position, knowing of his support for cancer research in general and of Pauling’s efforts to explore Vitamin C in particular. Though Sasakawa did not fulfill this specific request, he did eventually gift many other large sums to the Institute for research and study.

A 1984 trip concentrated almost completely on vitamin C. Shortly before flying across the Pacific, Pauling wrote a chapter for the book Medical Science and the Advancement of Health titled “Problems Introducing a New Field of Medicine: Orthomolecular Medicine.” Completing this chapter clarified his thoughts and led directly to a talk, “Molecular Disease and Orthomolecular Medicine,” delivered upon his arrival to Tokyo. Assisting him in this talk were other doctors pursuing and interested in this same field. The rest of this trip was devoted to visiting various institutes and industrial sites including the National Institute of Genetics and the Aliment Industry Co. in Mishima, as well as a vitamin factory in Hakone.

Pauling’s final two visits to Japan both took place in 1986. The first trip was for an exposition on vitamin C and health, followed by a series of interviews and seminars where he discussed cancer therapy and research results with Japanese medical journalists.

Pauling delivering the Opening Address at the Tokyo Health Fair, April 1986.

Pauling returned to his activist roots for his final visit, which was devoted primarily to peace. He visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, the Memorial Monument for Hiroshima City of Peace, and participated in a public screening of the documentary “Hiroshima – A Document of Atomic Bombing.” He spoke with survivors of the 1945 nuclear attack and visited the Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Hospital.

The Peace Summit in Hiroshima was also a part of this trip. Titled “In Quest for International Peace,” the gathering was partly devoted to discussions of the role of science in working for peace. The last of many speeches that Linus Pauling delivered in his nine trips to Japan took place in Hiroshima and was titled, “We Have Already Taken a Great Step Toward the Goal of World Peace.”  At this point Pauling had come full circle in Japan, a country that he greatly admired.


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