John Holmes Miller '63

John Holmes Miller, a scholar of Japanese and East Asian history who served for 25 years in the US Foreign Service, died April 5 after a lengthy illness.

Known by some as "Holmes" at Amherst, John's interest in the Far East began at the college. Rick Fried recalls John's honors thesis was about a 1921 Washington Conference that dealt with naval power in the Far East. "That obviously helped set his course though life," said Rick, who recalled that John "had a dry and ironic sense of humor about historical and other matters at Amherst."

John was from an academic family, the son of Professor John C. Miller, a historian at Stanford University, and Gladys Viola (Johnson) Miller and born November 21, 1941, in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. He went to Punahou School in Honolulu (which Barack Obama was later to attend), and when his father took up a position at Stanford, to Menlo-Atherton High School in nearby Atherton.

At Amherst he went out for baseball and crew. Andy Leader had this recollection: "What I remember about John Miller is his courage as a ballplayer. I tried out for the Amherst freshman baseball team, and though I wasn't good enough to play, I do have a vivid memory of John being knocked cold during practice when he was running from first base to second and got beaned by a throw to the first baseman." John was a rushing chairman one year for his Kappa Theta fraternity.

After graduating, John went to Stanford for a master's degree and on to Princeton for his doctorate in Japanese history. He taught history for a while at Carroll College in Waukesha, Wisconsin, west of Milwaukee, and then joined the Foreign Service in 1975. He held posts in Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, and Canada, and served as the Burma desk officer at the State Department in Washington, DC.

In 2000 he returned to Honolulu and the Asia-Pacific Centre for Security Studies, a US Navy institution, where as an associate professor he specialized in Japan's foreign relations and East Asian security issues. There he wrote two books--Modern East Asia: an Introductory History (2008) and American Political and Cultural Perspectives on Japan: From Perry to Obama (2014). More recently, he had volunteered to lecture at the Encore Learning Center located in the Smithsonian National Museum in Arlington, DC, and was vice president of the Urasenke Tankokai DC Association, a Japanese tea ceremony association.

John was survived by his wife, Mioko, a daughter Katherine, a son John, two brothers and a niece. A private family service was held last summer on San Juan Island, Washington State.

Neale Adams ’63