John Young was interpreter for Gen. Douglas MacArthur

Matt Schudel / The Washington Post /

John Young, an Asian-language scholar at Georgetown and other universities, who was an interpreter for Gen. Douglas MacArthur after World War II and later the co-author of widely used textbooks for teaching the Japanese language, died Sept. 8 at a hospital in Livingston, N.J. He was 93.

He had congestive heart failure, his daughter, Alice Young, said.

Young had been affiliated with Seton Hall University in West Orange, N.J., since 1974, but his early years were marked by upheaval and a cross-cultural education unusual for his time. He was born in China and spent much of his youth in Japan, where his father was a Chinese diplomat. He was fluent in both Asian languages, 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. Young’s family said he undertook an arduous three-month journey on foot to reach the provisional capital of Chongqing, a Chinese Nationalist stronghold.

He was in demand as a multilingual interpreter and a broadcaster during the war, encouraging the Chinese to resist the Japanese and calling on Japanese troops to lay down their arms.

After the war, when Japan was occupied by allied forces led by MacArthur, Young worked as an interpreter for the general. He participated in the collection of evidence for prosecuting Japanese war crimes and was part of a team that created a draft of a new Japanese constitution.

In his role as an interpreter, he also met Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong.

Young came to Washington in 1946 as a member of a Chinese delegation to an international commission to determine postwar policies in Japan.

Young’s first wife, Elizabeth Jen, died in 1957 after seven years of marriage. Survivors include his wife since 1960, Byoung-Hye Chang of West Orange, N.J.; three children from his first marriage, Alice Young of Little Falls, N.J., and Nancy Young and Peter Young, both of New York; two brothers, Jackson Yang of Highland and George Yang of San Gabriel, Calif.; and five grandchildren.