There’ s also been a lot of interesting people visiting town and events happening (too many to mention, in fact) here in 01′ Edo … The Big Mikan … whatever, the last few months. The biggest downer has been the exodus of nice people, good friends. Ecuadorian Ambassador Juan Salazar Sancisi is busy settling in the beautiful city of Quito now. Chilean Ambassador Oscar Fuentes and his wife Elisa have returned to Santiago where he has a new high position in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
United Arab Emirates Minister Abdulla AlMa’ainah and his wife Aida (she’s Tunisian) are back in Abu Dhabi. Now I just learned he’s a very accomplished jewelry designer.
Thanks to Chi Chan Plessner, I was able to spend a couple of laid-back hours with one of Tokyo’s best liked couples, outgoing Jordanian Ambassador Farouk Kasrawi and his wife Muazaz. After almost 10 years in Japan, they’ll spend a few weeks in Amman before going on to Berlin where Farouk will be Jordan’s Ambassador to Germany. Our final (in Tokyo) get-together was at the Japanese restaurant in Hilton Tokyo. I’ve never had such good-and so much – tempura.
On July 6, Finnish Ambassador Matti Pekki Lintu and his wife Laurel hosted a reception on their home to say sayonara. I couldn’t get there, but Carole Yoshida promised a few photos for us.
Omani Ambassador Mohammed Ali AI-Khusaiby is heading out as well, after eight years in Japan. The still-young bachelor will take on his important posting as Ambassador to the Court of Saint. James in the U.K.
Sorry as well to see personable Estonian Ambassador Mark Sinisoo and his equally personable wife Ingrid leave. They’ve only been here two years and have become good friends. Diplomats leaving later this year include Qatar Ambassador Ahmed Al-Kha!, his wife Hessa and their children. The ambassador’s postings all over the world add up to 25 years away from home. Their youngest child was born in Japan. It’s easy to see why Qatar has wanted this extremely capable, outgoing couple to represent it, but also easy to understand their anticipation of leaving Japan (a country they love) and really going home at long last. I heard their home is a beautiful place in Doha.
Rumor has it that Slovenian Ambassador Janez Premoze will be leaving this fall, but will probably stay on until after HIH Princess Sayoko visits Slovenia whenever. Janez will be taking a very precious part of Japan with him-his wife Yukie.
I also heard Indian Ambassador Siddharth Singh and his wife Jyotsna will be leaving for his new posting in Italy. Frankly, I was never able to establish much rapport with this gentleman but got to know Jyotsna through her work on many worthwhile community charity projects.
You already know that Manfred Pieper left as General Manager of Hilton Tokyo, and I’m happy to hear that he’s back at his old job as GM for the Hilton Guam Resort. Manfred and his wife Wei Li have many friends and are highly regarded on Guam. They’re good people and I hope to visit them soon.
I’ve mentioned Jean Pearce leaving in this column and will be writing more about her and her new husband Bill Sherman in a later column. For now, I’d like to say that one of the best things in life is to see good friends happy. Bill and Jean are certainly that.
We’re losing another pillar of the foreign community as well. After more than 19 years in Japan, Geraldine M. Willcox will be leaving. For 18 of those years, Geraldine was one of the primary movers-shakers in Refugees International-Japan. It’s nice that as executive director of RI), she was here to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the organization at a concert at the British Embassy.
As a longtime ex-pat, I should be used seeing friends move out and on. Even so, it’s never easy. My thanks for the privilege of their friendship and I offer my sincerest best wishes in all their future endeavors.
Bill Sherman, also Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy (under legendary Ambassador Mike Mansfield) now lives outside Washington, D.C., in lovely rural Virginia. Bill was in town to care for his fiancee (now wife) Jean Pearce. They were married May 25 and will be living in Bill’s residence near Washington. Needless to say, Jean, who has been in Japan for more than 35 years and is one of our city’s most popular columnists, will really be missed. I’ll have photos and a rundown of the party in honor of the newlyweds hosted by U.S. Ambassador Tom Foley and his wife Heather in an upcoming column of mine.
A beautiful card from Swedish Ambassador Krister Kumlin and his wife Ewa relaxing at a Greek tavern on their way back to Sweden for summer holidays.
Another from Mitsuo and Lilo Maruyama who were in Svalbard, Norway, and heading out for an Arctic experience which was to include dog-sledding. They do get around.
Congratulations to Maria Edileuza Guimaraes Reis, wife of the Brazilian Ambassador, on her recent appointment as Minister. This amazing lady has not only studied and worked her way almost to the top in her career (next is ambassador), but also is a great mom to their two children.
Got an invitation to her graduation from Seisen high school from Lyndsie James, plus one of the nicest letters I’ve had for a long time. Good-looking, fashionable and outgoing, Lyndsie is also an A student. Happy to hear she did exceptionally well on her aptitude tests and is eligible for just about any university to which she’ll apply. She says she hopes to attend one of the better music schools in London and further develop her talents as a pop singer and composer. Lyndsie is the daughter of Steve and Nikki James with the British Embassy. She has an older sister, Monique, and younger brother Stephen, in the 11th grade at St. Mary’s. They’re all really special young people.
Talked with noted law man Atsuyuki Sassa at the U.S. Embassy July Fourth celebration; he says the big Roppongi police clean-up campaign “Roppongi Sweep” is definitely on and will start right after the G8 conference. They’re bringing in a “top-notch police officer from Kyushu to head this,” he says. Atsuyuki also said Tokyo’s controversial (just ask me!) Gov. Shintaro Ishihara is strongly behind this “sweep.”
As a Broadway buff, I’m happy to hear that the AmeriCcan roadshow casts of two hit shows will be coming to Japan. The first, Tony Award winner (Best Musical, 1996) and 1996 Pulitzer Prize winner, “Rent,” will run from July 22-30 at Bunkyo City Hall (near Korakuen Station. Sponsors include TBS and Japan Airlines.
TV Asahi plans to bring the show “Swing,” currently running on Broadway, in early 2001. That’s something to anticipate happily.
Yoshi Aoyama told me he’ll bring the talented Sarah Brighton here for concerts and Min-On Concert Association’s Yukio Yamaguchi told me his office is getting a show of Irish song-and-dance performers together for a Japan tour. Congratulations to Yukio on his recent promotion; he’s now on the board of directors and public relations bureau chief.
In my last column, I mentioned the re-opening of the popular Oasis Restaurant when the owner Niels Thomsen gave me his card. I took it for granted that it was the address of Oasis, but it turned out to be Niel’s office. So, I’d like to give you the correct info: Oasis is located in B1, Elsa Bldg., 3-13-12 Roppongi, Tel: 5411-2419. Happy to report that the fine eatery is doing very well.
To celebrate the 50′” anniversary of Schuman Declaration, the head of the Delegation of the European Commission in Japan, Ambassador Ove Juul Jorgensen and his wife Hanne hosted a grand and glittering reception. The main function room of the big and beautiful Meiji Kinenkan was a perfect venue. There were huge and lovely floral tributes everywhere and the bountiful buffet included the best of Japanese, Chinese and western food.
It was a festive event with special guests who included former Prime Ministers Tsutomu Hata and Ryutaro Hashimoto, as well as the Minister of Foreign Affairs Yohei Kono. When I asked Kono-san, who made a graceful congratulatory speech, if he got his great tan playing golf, he laughed and said, “No-campaigning!” It’s easy to see why he’s popular and respected. The E.U. has made many remarkable achievements since its founding on May 9, 1950. Our congratulations.
Glad I dropped by Jean Pearce’s Mita apartment when she hosted a cocktail party for several former Tokyoites re-visiting their old home town. These included Don and Barbara Knode, Kris Deming and Bill Sherman. The Knodes make their home in Florida these days. Kris’s husband Rust, former Minister-Counsellor at the U.S. Embassy here, has recently been appointed U.S. Ambassador to one of my favorite countries, Tunisia. From what I hear, they’ll be moving into one of Tunis’s most beautiful homes. the American Embassy residence in the seaside city of Sidi Bou Said.
*First published at the Tokyo Weekender