Malcolm Duncan Kennedy Papers

Scope and Content

Papers, including diaries, of Captain Malcolm Duncan Kennedy relating to Japanese economic, military and political matters, and recording his time spent in Japan, during the period 1917 to 1965. A Memoir of the period 1912 to 1922 is also available.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Papers consist of diaries for the years 1917 to 1946, lecture notes, manuscripts and news-cuttings, and miscellaneous items. An unpublished Memoir for the period 1912 to 1922, Their Mercenary Calling, covering his service in World War I and introduction to Japan, is also available.

Malcolm Duncan Kennedy, O.B.E., (1895-1984), expert on Japanese affairs, had a varied career as army officer, businessman, civil servant and intelligence officer, during which he spent some two decades in Japan.

Kennedy was born in Edinburgh, though some of his earliest years were spent in Penang, and educated at Glenalmond School. During his army career he attended Sandhurst before serving in the First World War. After being severely wounded he convalesced for eighteen months before taking a course in Japanese at SOAS, having been posted to the Intelligence Section of Eastern Command Headquarters in London. From 1917 to 1920 he was a Military Language Officer in Japan, before returning to London where he worked in the Far Eastern Section of the War Office. The following year he was invalided out of the army and returned to Japan as a businessman. From 1925 until 1934 he took up a post in the Japanese Section of the Government Code and Cypher School, combining this with free-lance journalism. During World War II he continued to work there on Far Eastern Intelligence duties. At the end of the war he moved to the War Office, being based in the headquarters of the Inter-Service Organisation. From 1945 until his retirement in 1955 he worked for S.I.S. (MI6).

Jon Pardoe's doctoral thesis Captain Malcolm Kennedy and Japan, 1917-1945 is based largely on the papers and diaries in the collection and was undertaken in the Centre of Japanese Studies, being presented in 1990. Dr Pardoe has since written a biography of Kennedy based on his thesis. Researchers are welcome to refer to this and other works by Dr Pardoe listed below on condition that they give due acknowledgement to himself and, for the transcript of the Diaries, the School of East Asian Studies at the University of Sheffield. Works made available by Dr Pardoe are:

  • A list of the Kennedy Papers
  • An edited abridged version of the Diaries
  • Selected biographies of prominent individuals
  • Various background notes
  • Captain Malcolm Kennedy & Japan, 1917-1945 [Biography]


By category

Conditions Governing Access

Available to all researchers, by appointment

Acquisition Information

Donated by Captain Kennedy to the University of Sheffield Centre for Japanese Studies in 1984; held in the University Library on deposit.


Description prepared by Lawrence Aspden

Other Finding Aids

Catalogue of Papers in the Kennedy Collection, Sheffield University Library, by Ann Jackson, 1988.

Alternative Form Available

A copy of the Memoir by Kennedy for the years 1912 to 1922 is at the Imperial War Museum, London.

Geographical Names