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Number 1 Shimbun

From the Archives

From the Archives

Dick Hughes—Doyen of Correspondents in Asia

By Charles Pomeroy

Hong Kong-based Richard “Dick” Hughes, known as “Your Grace,” was roasted* at a Club dinner in his honor on May 8, 1981. In addition to his work as a war correspondent in WWII and his later coverage of Asia for major news organizations, Hughes had also served from 1947 as the general manager for 18 months of the Tokyo Press Club, as the now-FCCJ was known at the beginning. Seated left to right are John Roderick (AP), Al Cullison (New York Journal of Commerce), Allen Raymond (former New York Herald Tribune correspondent for whom our library is named), Dick Hughes, Jack Russell (NBC), and Kei Kawana, a former manager who served under Hughes. The Hughes-masked figures suggest his various roles, including his alleged work as a spy, and behind them is an enlarged photo of the first club premises.

An Australian born in Melbourne on March 5, 1904, Hughes was enticed into journalism at a young age through his work on the house magazine of the Victorian Railways. He became a newspaper reporter in Melbourne in 1934, but the next year moved on to the Daily Telegraph in Sydney. From 1940 he reported from Tokyo and Shanghai, then covered the war in North Africa in 1942-43 before illness returned him to Sydney for editorial work. He was assigned as a foreign correspondent to Tokyo in 1945 to cover the Occupation, but resigned in 1947 and transitioned into Club management. Returning to journalism and based in Hong Kong, he wrote for The Times, The Economist, The Far Eastern Economic Review and various other publications over the next 30 years, covering the Korean and Vietnam wars among other stories.

Congenial and highly regarded, Hughes had a reputation as a flamboyant raconteur with a dry sense of humor. He inspired the creation of fictional characters by authors John le Carré and Ian Fleming. Reportedly a double agent for MI6 during the Cold War, he was among the first to interview British spies Burgess and Maclean in 1956 (see page 38 of the FCCJ history book). He also authored four books, of which the best known are Foreign Devil and Hong Kong: Borrowed Place, Borrowed Time. He was honored in 1980 by Queen Elizabeth II, who named him a Commander of the British Empire (CBE).

Richard Hughes died in Hong Kong at the age of 77 in 1984.

*A roast is the honoring of a colleague in a humorous way with jokes at their expense as well as genuine praise, often with the roastee responding in kind.


Charles Pomeroy is editor of Foreign Correspondents in Japan, a history of the club that is available at the front desk.

Published in: July 2018

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