日本語   JCIE Japanese Language Site



A Missionary for 'Civilian Diplomacy'

Part 2 of 5

From the Nihon Keizai Shimbun (unofficial translation)
By: Tsuyoshi Sunohara
Published: May 15, 2007


Nihon Keizai Shimbun 06/07Upon his return from the United States, Tadashi Yamamoto had another "Kennedy" encounter to look forward to. He would begin working as the foreign relations secretary for the president of Shin-Etsu Chemical Company, Tokusaburo Kosaka (later a member of the House of Representatives), who was at that time involved in inviting Attorney General Robert (Bobby) Kennedy, the younger brother of President Kennedy, to Japan.

In July 1962, immediately after returning to Japan, I heard from someone, "Mr. Kosaka is carrying out some international projects and is looking for an assistant." I also heard that he was the person who had invited Bobby Kennedy to Japan. As soon as I heard the name "Kennedy," I immediately jumped at the chance.

Within a week after returning home, I was personally interviewed by Kosaka, and one week later I started work at the Shin-Etsu Chemical offices in Tokyo's Marunouchi district. The first title I was given at the company was "assistant to the president."

The person who had initially broached the idea of inviting Bobby Kennedy to Japan was the US ambassador at the time, Edwin Reischauer. Among those who helped with the plan were people like Toru Maeno, the president of the Tokyu Agency. Around that time, Kosaka was letting it be known that he wanted to bring about "a type of internationalization that would be different than anything done in the past." He began a study group known as the "Yushi no Kai," and among those who regularly attended was Kei Wakaizumi, who went on to play an important role in the Sato administration during the Okinawa reversion negotiations.

Armed with the English language and typing skills that he had honed while studying in the United States, and above all, afire with his newly found sense of mission, Yamamoto could be found sitting in front of the typewriter an hour before the office even opened, and handling one special mission after another for the president.

Yamamoto with Walt Rostow and Kei Wakaizumi
Yamamoto (far right) with
Walt Rostow (far left), and
Kei Wakaizumi (next to
Yamamoto).

The first instructions I received were to iron out a deal between Shin-Etsu and an American partner for a semiconductor project. But starting with the next assignment, the content of the work changed completely. That assignment was to help start a project called the "Japanese American Teachers Exchange" that had been proposed by Professor Herbert Passin of Columbia University, and that the Ford Foundation was supporting. At the time, Nikkyoso (the left-leaning Japan Teacher's Union) was very active, and it seems that there were those in the business world who wanted to develop a counterbalancing force.

Kosaka said to me, "Just go there and negotiate for me," and so from there I became involved in launching the program. In the end, the program was launched as the "Japanese School Teachers Study Tour to the United States," and over the four years beginning in 1964, roughly 40 elementary and secondary school teachers from Japan were sent to the United States.

Tokusaburo Kosaka, who was the younger brother of Zentaro Kosaka (foreign minister in the Ikeda cabinet at the start of the 1960s), worked with Ambassador Reischauer to try to get Walt Rostow, the special assistant for national security affairs who was the trusted colleague of National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy (later president of the Ford Foundation), to visit Japan. Working behind the scenes were Wakaizumi and Yamamoto.

The Rostow visit to Japan also began as a suggestion from Reischauer. The ambassador came to discuss the idea with Kosaka, who then asked Wakaizumi to help and appointed me to serve as his assistant.

Rostow came to Japan in April 1965. As I accompanied Wakaizumi in carrying out this project, I was deeply impressed by his character and judgment. Following Rostow's visit, I had a chance to visit the White House with Wakaizumi and others. At that time, the US-Japan relationship was facing many serious issues, including Vietnam and the reversion of Okinawa. I believe that the Rostow visit provided an opportunity for Rostow and Wakaizumi to develop a personal relationship, and that connection helped Wakaizumi play a key role later when he was involved in the Okinawa negotiations.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5