Mr. Okamoto Yukio passed away after contracting the novel corona-virus. Many of you may remember his balanced and seasoned views expressed on TV or in newspapers.
He was one year ahead of me at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. When six of us, newly sent, arrived at Dulles Airport exactly 50 years ago, he was the one to welcome us. I still remember how he very enthusiastically talked about his exciting life in the States.
In the Foreign Ministry, he was a shining figure from a very early stage and held such posts as the director of the security affairs division and director of the First North America Division. He was deemed as “Mr. Japan-US relations” and was truly loved by many American friends.
The story during the Gulf War of his rushing into the Seamen’s Union office and successfully persuading them to dispatch ships to supply 4 wheel-drive vehicles to the Gulf for US troops is well-known. So he is sometimes regarded as a very pro-active type of person. But he was also a very reserved and kind individual. I heard from a driver at the Japanese Embassy in Washington, DC that when Okamoto-san went to DC, drivers who had worked with him many years ago often got together to meet him. I have never heard such stories about other diplomats. He was a truly manly man admired by other men.
He surprised many by leaving the Ministry at very young age and became a consultant, an advisor to multiple prime ministers,
We all miss this great key person in Japan-US relations and hope that his soul will remain peacefully in heaven.