John Young was born Yang Jue Yong in Tianjin, China in 1920. However, he spent much of his youth in Japan, where his father was a Chinese diplomat. He attended a French-language school in Tokyo, and graduated from the most elite high school and college in Japan. He was fluent in both Chinese and Japanese, as well as French and English, from an early age. During World War II, he returned from Japan to China when much of it was under occupation by Japanese forces, and then undertook an arduous three-month journey on foot to reach the provisional capital of Chongqing, a Chinese Nationalist stronghold. He worked for the Chinese Government ‘s Foreign Ministry and broadcast in Japanese during the war, urging the Japanese soldiers to surrender.After the war, he was seconded to act as an interpreter for General MacArthur investigating Japanese war crimes, and even helped draft a new Japanese constitution. He moved to America in 1946 as First Secretary of the Chinese Embassy and a member of a Chinese delegation to a commission to determine postwar policies in Japan. After the Communist takeover, he stayed in America, getting degrees at Georgetown University and Johns Hopkins University, teaching Japanese, and publishing scholarly studies of Japanese and Chinese history, as well as a series of textbooks on the Japanese language. He co-founded the Chinese Language Teachers’ Association and together with I.M. Pei, Yo-Yo Ma and others the Committee of 100, serving as its Executive Director and Counselor.