Monday June 1 started out at the Canadian Embassy where Canadian Ambassador Bruce Rankin and his wife Mona had invited many of their friends to say sayonara. The Embassy’s huge rooms were wall-to-wall people and by the time I left, the garden and verandas were filled as well. Prominent in the crowd were Mme. Hidesaburo Shoda, Maureen Mansfield (the Ambassador was to join her there later), the Reijiro Hattoris, Mrs. Kazuko Aso, the Yoshio Higashiuchis and the Shintaro Fukushimas.
I couldn’t stay for Bruce’s sayonara speech which I’m sure was the highlight of the evening. He’s a straight-speaking diplomat, with a great sense of humor and never pulls punches. He may have ruffled a few feathers while he was here, but always had the guts to say what he felt and stand up for what he thought was right.
He and Mona were extremely well liked and will be missed by all of us who had the good fortune to get to know them. Ivory Coast Ambassador Pierre Coffi, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, made the sayonara speech and the traditional gift presentation on behalf of the Corps. The Rankins left Japan on June 5 They stopped in Hawaii for a holiday before going on to Vancouver where they picked up a car to drive across Canada.
That same evening South African Consul-General J.S. Botha and his wife Monika were hosting a reception at their home to celebrate their Republic Day. It was a crowded reception, too, and by the time I got there most of the guests were out in the spacious garden. As in past years, the most popular spot was where they were grilling and serving “Boerewors” (homemade farmer’s sausages.) If you haven’t tried them, you don’t know what you’re missing.
Kurt and Gill Uster were there (he’s with Johnson & Johnson) and after three years in Japan, they’ll be moving to Kuala Lumpur. They have a two-year-old son Martin who “was made in Japan.” Most of the talk at the party was about summer traveling and from the sounds of things, our city will quiet down considerably during the latter part of July and most of August. Special guests at the party included a South African karate team here for competitions. Some of them just finished acting in a martial arts film, “Kill or Be Killed.”
Our last stop that evening was the Lexington Queen where United Artists was holding a party for one of the actresses, Lynn Holly Johnson and two of the Bond Girls, Kim Mills and Lizzie Warville. They were in Japan to promote the soon to be released (July 4) James Bond film “For Your Eyes Only.” I had met Lynn a few years ago when she was here to promote her first film “Ice Castles.” She’s changed her image considerably, but is as nice as ever. It was Kim’s birthday so there was a cake, singing and lots of disco dancing. Others there that evening included Michael Wilson, executive producer of the film, and Jerry Juroe who, in addition to being associate producer, handles worldwide publicity and advertising for Eon Productions.
Brian Bryce, vice chairman of Hyatt International Corporation, was in from Hong Kong for a few days on a combination business-pleasure trip. He was with his good friend B. S. Ong from Singapore who, among other things, owns the Singapore Hilton. They’re both dynamic men who create interest and excitement just by talking of their many projects.
On the 17th lunched at the Hilton with a very dynamic young lady, Laila Diria, daughter of Tanzanian Ambassador and Mrs. Diria. Laila’s working with me on a charity project that will be highlighted by an African Culture Night at the Samba Club Regency. Since so many people will be out of town for the summer, we’ve decided to postpone this until late September or early October. More on that as it develops.
On Saturday the 20th, it was a “musical wedding” for Kunihiko Yokoi and his lovely bride Haruki Takeuchi. I couldn’t be there for the wedding, but talked to Moroccan Ambassador and Mrs. Abdeslam Tadlaoui at the reception, and they told me about the beautiful ceremony. “It was western style, there was background music, poetry and the bride and groom read the vows and exchanged rings.”
The wedding and reception were both at Yokoi’s New Japan Hotel. As guests entered the reception room, they were greeted by the newlyweds, their parents and the nakado (go betweens). Once everyone was seated, there were a few short speeches and Ambassador Tadlaoui and I were asked to pour the “champagne pyramid.” I felt very privileged to share this honor with the Ambassador, especially since there were so many interesting and important people there that evening.
Kuni’s sister, Chichan, married to prominent young architect Takenosuke Sakakura, glowed that evening as she moved around the room, making sure everyone was enjoying themselves. Guests included Yoshio Aoyama, Yoshio and Kumi Taniguchi, Marko and Helen (Ma) Yamawaki, Koko Toby (Georges was in Bangkok on business), Mitsuo Maruyama and the Maruyamas’ son Helge (Lilo was home with a cold that day), Yasuo and Kumiko Hattori, and the youngest of the famous Osmond Family, Jimmy, in Japan for a TV series. (He also did a sayonara concert on the 2nd. He’s returned to the U.S.A. by now and is preparing for another step in his career . . . his first appearance in a Broadway show. He’ll star in a musical called “Little Johny Jones.” David Cassidy starred in the West Coast production of the George M. Cohan-inspired show and it did very well.)
There was a band at the reception and after a superb buffet that featured western, Chinese and Japanese food, several of the showbiz guests sang. These included Soichi Shikiba, his gorgeous wife Fifi Oyan, Yoshio (Makino) Aoyama and Hiroshi Kameyatsu. It was a glittering reception . . . perfect for the occasion. Our congratulations to Kuni and Haruki, and our best wishes for a long happy life together.
A friend of mine is road manager for the rock group Whitesnake, so I had to get to one of their concerts while they were in Japan. Several members of the group had been with Deep Purple and I’ve always liked their music. It was my first time to a concert like this at Asakusa Kokusai Theater, and I was surprised at the huge crowd that turned out for Whitesnake. The enormous, very old theater was packed. The concert turned out to be more exciting than most I had seen at Budokan. I think it was because the whole atmosphere was more relaxed and the kids were able to stand up, and really get down to the music. Those “security people” at Budokan whose job is to push people down the minute they stand up can get a little heavy and really take away from the enjoyment of a concert. Just ask Rod Stewart.
On Wednesday the 24th there was a reception at the Spanish Embassy to celebrate King’s Day. The party not only gave me a chance to congratulate my Spanish friends, but to meet newly arrived Spanish Ambassador and Mrs. Eduardo Ibanez as well. The Ambassador, a career diplomat, has served as his country’s envoy to Morocco and the Soviet Union.
The guests that evening were a mix of diplomats, Japanese Government officials and businessmen. Prominent in the crowd were former foreign minister, Zentaro Kosaka; Keisuke Arita, president of the Japan International Cooperation Agency, and noted flamenco dancer Yoko Komatsubara.
A few days later, on June 25, at the Hibiya Theater there was the Japan premiere of the latest James Bond film, “For Your Eyes Only.” This was arranged by The Royal Society of St. George in association with the Japan British Society with the cooperation of United Artists. The proceeds of the evening were for charity.