(LaxMagazine.com) Norio Endo, a retired U.S. Navy captain who helped establish lacrosse in Japan, died Jan. 11 in Baltimore after a bout with cancer. He was 78.
According to an obituary published Tuesday in The Washington Post, Capt. Endo was among thousands of Japanese Americans interned during World War II. He later attended Johns Hopkins University and enlisted in the Navy in 1956, serving two tours in the Vietnam War.
Capt. Endo spent most of his post-military career working for the aerospace company Grumman, including a stint in its Tokyo office. While abroad, he encountered Ross Jones, then the vice president of Johns Hopkins University. According to The Post, both men thought lacrosse should be introduced to Japan because it shared elements of the traditional Japanese martial art kendo and that the game would fit well in Japanese culture.
Capt. Endo and Ross established the Japanese Lacrosse Association in 1987. Japan now boasts the third-highest lacrosse-playing population in the world, behind the U.S. and Canada.
Many U.S. college teams and coaches have toured Japan, whose lacrosse base has grown to about 80,000 players thanks to development efforts spearheaded by those programs and the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL). The 2010 Japanese men’s national team finished fourth at the FIL World Championship, the country’s highest-ever finish in international competition.
“Nori was at the heart of all of this,” Ross told The Post.