Director: (1981 – 1996)
Mr. John Sylvester, Jr. assumed duty as Director of the North Carolina Japan Center on July 1st, 1981.
Mr. Sylvester was born in Newport, Rhode Island on August 17th, 1930. He accompanied his father, a naval officer at the Asiatic Station, to China and the Philippines from 1936 – 1939. He graduated from Williams College in Massachusetts in 1952 with a B.A. in History. Subsequently, he enlisted in the Army and served in combat with the infantry during the Korean War. Afterwards, he studied at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service from 1954 – 55, graduating with a B.S.
In July 1955, he entered the Foreign Service and was initially assigned to the Consulate General in Yokohama, Japan. In 1958, he commenced full-time Japanese language training at the Foreign Service Institute School in Tokyo, finishing in 1960. He then entered the Economic Section of the Embassy in Tokyo for a two-and-a-half-year tour. After that, he served as principal officer and Consul at the American Consulate in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan.
Mr. Sylvester then returned to the Department of State for duty where he served as an International Relations Officer in the Office of Japanese Affairs, then as a staff assistant in the White House, and finally as Deputy Director of the Office of Thai Affairs. In 1967, he commenced a year of Vietnamese language training and arrived for duty in Vietnam in August of 1968. His first year was in the Delta provinces of Chau Doc and Kien Giang. He then was assigned for a year as Province Senior Advisor in Binh Long, north of Saigon, on the Cambodian border. Afterwards, he served for two years (1970 – 1972) as Chief, Internal Political Affairs Unit, at the U.S. Embassy in Saigon.
After his tour of duty in Vietnam, Mr. Sylvester received a Fellowship at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, for the 1972 – 1923 academic year.
In 1973, he was assigned as Consul General at the American Consulate General in Okinawa, Japan, where he served until 1976. He then returned to the Department of State and served as Deputy Director of the Office of Research and Analysis on East Asia for two years and then as Assistant Deputy Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research until he retired in August of 1980.