Romeo A. Arguelles, Azucena, Madame Estrada, Kay Siazon

Bill Hersey’s Partyline February 2000

After two years in Japan, and 22 years with Club Med, Managing Director Japan Guiseppe Grimani has decided “to take a break.” We wish him and his successor here, Linda Sherman, all the best.

Ran into Sacred Heart teacher Barry W. Spence at Starbucks the other day, and he turned me onto a very worthwhile project in which Sacred Heart students are involved. They’re collecting eyeglasses for Second Sight For Sore Eyes. The project was started by Dave Anderson, a United Airlines pilot, and his Thai wife Siriwan. The glasses are donated to children and the elderly in Thailand who are in need of eyeglasses but cannot afford them.

I am always pleasantly surprised at the number of people out there who really go out of their way to help others. These include Maria Anderson who just sent me lots of really nice clothing to take or send where it’s needed. Babita Bhikram donated toys, books and other items for orphans in Japan and the Philippines.

Philippine Ambassador Romeo A. Arguelles. Madame Estrada

Philippines Ambassador Romeo A. Arguelles and his wife Azucena (“Annie”) are another popular, always-busy diplomatic couple. As you know if you follow the column, they opened their beautiful new embassy in Roppongi late last year. One of the most exciting events was an opening of a painting exhibition of Jack C. Salvo where the guest of honor was the First Lady of the Republic of the Philippines, Dr. Luisa P. Ejercito Estrada.


Thai Celebration – King’s Birthday

Here in Tokyo, newly arrived Thai Ambassador Sakthip Krairiksh and his wife Benchapa hosted a glittering reception at their beautiful home on the occasion of their King’s Birthday. The huge turnout included Japanese government officials, diplomats, business leaders and prominent members of Japanese and foreign society.

Thai Ambassador Sakthip Krairiksh and his wife Benchapa, U.S. Ambassador Tom Foley.
Thai Ambassador Sakthip Krairiksh and his wife Benchapa receive best wishes from U.S. Ambassador Tom Foley.

It was really nice seeing former Greek Ambassador to Japan George Sioris again. He and his wife Puntong (she’s Thai) live in the northern Thailand city of Chengmai with their twin daughters. George, a true scholar, often returns to japan to lecture. U.S Ambassador Tom Foley, always busy, stopped by the congratulate the Krairikshes. Tom really does his best to get to everything he can. I agree all the way with Barbara Uribe (wife of the Mexican Ambassador) who told me, “The more I get to know Tom, the more I respect him.”

28th National Day of the UEA

It was also a special evening at the New Otani when the young and well-liked United Arab Emirates Charge d’Affaires Abdulla Mohamad Al-Ma’ainah and his wife Aida hosted a reception to celebrate the 28th National Day of the UAE. The hosting couple, as you can see by the photos, was handsomely dressed in national costumes. Following custom, there was a large, gold-framed photo of UAE President Sheik Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, flanked by floral tributes from friends and business associates. The center of the Tsuru Room was dominated by a large ice carving of the country’s national emblem.

Egyptian Embassy Reception

Another night there was a wall-to-wall people party at the residence of Egyptian Ambassador Mahmoud Karem and his wife Yasmina. They were very happy to have their oldest daughter Myral, son-in-law Ihab Fahmy and 1-year-old granddaughter Kenzy, visiting from Cairo for the special occasion. More on both of these events with photos later. There’ll be all kinds of special activities and programs throughout the year. These include a program of classical and traditional Egyptian music, performed by Egyptian folkloric groups, Egyptian fold week, a pharaotic antiquities exhibition, a products exhibition, the second meeting of the Japan-Egypt Business Cooperation Council and an investment seminar on Egypt.

Kuwait National Day Reception

Kuwaiti Ambassador Walid Ali Al-Khobaizi, Chief of Protocol Shohei Naito, wife Yoko
Kuwaiti Ambassador Walid Ali Al-Khobaizi, Chief of Protocol Shohei Naito, wife Yoko

On Monday, Feb 28, Kuwaiti Ambassador Walid Ali Al-Khobaizi hosted a grand reception at the Imperial Hotel on the occasion of the National Day of the State of Kuwait. I have some wonderful memories of three visits to Kuwait, and Walid is a true friend, so I really do regret not being with him and his many friends for what I hear was a great evening.

Dietmember Kyoko Kusakabe, Kuwait Ambassador Al-Khobaizi
Dietmember Kyoko Kusakabe, Kuwait Ambassador Al-Khobaizi

Thor and Eva Larsen invited friends to “An Evening With Joan.” Joan Shepher, that is. After more than 25 years of fame and accomplishments in Japan, Joan is making the big move back to the good ol’ USA. That lady will be missed. An evening at the Larsens’ gave guests the opportunity to see what a talented interior designer is Eva and that she and Thor are warm hosts.

I hope to get to know Bulgarian Ambassador Peter Andonov better in the future. Meanwhile, my thanks for the invitation to the reception he hosted in his home on Mar. 3 to celebrate the National Day of the Republic of Bulgaria.


Latin Bazaar

The annual Latin Ladie Year-end Bazaar, though held on a Sunday, was bigger and better than ever. Fabulous food, fine people and a festive mood added to a very worthwhile event. Proceeds went to several charity projects in Latin South American countries. Kudos to the many hard-working ladies who put so much time and effort into this project.

It was an evening of excitement, energy and solid entertainment when I saw the performance of the Irish Dance Troupe’s “Lord of the Dance” at the Tokyo International Forum. The skill, speed and synchronization of the 38 young dancers really has to be seen to be believed. Irish Ambassador Declan O’Donovan’s special guests included dance aficionados Prince and Princess Takamado and their daughters, Princesses Tsuguko, Noriko and Ayako.

*First published at the Tokyo Weekender.

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