Doctor to the stars in Japan was once arrested as a suspected Russian spy
TOKYO — One of the most memorable foreign residents of Japan was Eugene Aksenoff, a White Russian emigrant to Japan from Harbin, China, who went through medical school in Tokyo and established the International Clinic in Tokyo which treated patients until his passing in 2014.
Aksenoff was born in Manchuria in 1924 to Russian parents who had fled the Bolshevik Revolution and came to Japan in 1942 where he studied Japanese and paid for his medical school tuition and living expenses by portraying captured American pilots in wartime propaganda films.
The tall, lanky courtly doctor worked for a time as a translator and interpreter during the Occupation years and treated the War Crimes Tribunal defendants, before opening up his practice in 1953. Endlessly cheerful, he was a beloved figure among expatriates in Tokyo. He was known for taking in patients regardless of their background, and whether they could pay or not, and often said that he had never turned down anyone seeking help. He had a deal with Nick Zappetti, the Italian restaurateur, whose famous Nicola Italian eatery was just around the corner, that Aksenoff would treat any patient who was sick. Zappetti would then provide a free meal to each patient. Aksenoff donated heavily to charities, In 1998, he received the Eiji Yoshikawa cultural award for his work and long commitment to public service.