The Honorable Walter F. Mondale passed away. Another giant has left us.
The first time I met him was at the US Ambassador’s residence in Tokyo in the mid-1990s.
I was Deputy Director General for Asian Affairs. In short, yet a small fry.
He was a huge elephant—maybe it would be better to say that he was a huge donkey in view of his party affiliation.
That he was US Ambassador was already huge, but he was also the former Vice President! I remember just staring at this awesome politician diplomat.
When I became Japan’s Ambassador in Washington, DC, our relations, of course, became much closer. I here touch on three memories.
One was to pass along to him The Grand Cordon of the Order of Paulownia Flowers, a supreme decoration,
in 2008. As Ambassador Mondale was not able to go Tokyo to receive it from the Emperor, the ceremony was held in the Japanese Ambassador’s residence.
Their old friends Mr. and Mrs. Shoichiro Toyoda, Honorary Chairman of Toyota Motors, traveled all the way from Tokyo to attend the ceremony.
Mr. and Mrs. Mondale looked so happy. Mrs. Mondale loved and mastered Japanese pottery while in Japan.
Ambassador Mondale once invited me to give a lecture in his home state of Minnesota.
I was able to see that people there, young and old, truly admired this great man who was truly down to earth. He was surrounded by his admirers.
As it was the one-year anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake in Tohoku, he told me how he and President Carter reacted to the Three Mile Island nuclear accident,
a story which was new and enlightening to me.
In 2017, the America-Japan Society, Inc. celebrated its centennial.
We made a short movie. At the end of the film, I asked several people to say a few words. Ambassador Mondale was one of them. He stressed that our two countries should always stay together, always.
May his soul rest peacefully in heaven with his loved ones.
Ichiro Fujisaki,President,The America-Japan Society Inc.