The exception is a Moroccan happening. A high-level Moroccan delegation headed by Driss Benhima, former minister and presently high commissioner for the promotion of the candidacy of Morocco for the 2006 World Cup Soccer was in Japan recently. Along with Moroccan Ambassador Mohamed Tangi, they held a press conference followed by a reception at the Palace Hotel.
This would be the first time Africa, whose people truly love football, would organize such an event.
Morocco’s geographical proximity (just 15 kms by sea from Europe), low crime rate, security, climate, World Cup stadiums, excellent tourism facilities, energy and enthusiasm will hopefully add up to a win for their bid. This was a dream for Morocco’s late and great King Hassan II and a goal to fulfill his father’s dream for King Mohammed VI.
Participating teams and their many fans would not only receive legendary Arab hospitality but also share the excitement and joy for the games with African people. They would be able to discover, explore and enjoy the diversity and cultural heritage of a beautiful country-Morocco.
As always, I missed out on several interesting and very worthwhile events. These include a dinner party hosted by Thai Ambassador Sakthip Krairiksh and his wife Benchapa in honor of a visiting member of their Royal Family. Prince and Princess Takamado were special guests, and I was looking forward to talking with them about their recent trip to Africa.
I did see Princess Takamado at the Hanae Mori show Feb. 17. She’s had her hair cut in a new chic short style and, as Billy Crystal’s skit goes, “looks marvelous.”
Infinity Creations, headed by Atul Parekh, held an exhibition and lunch reception to launch Cerrone Jewelry in Japan. Nicola Cerrone is the first Australian jewelry designer to be formally promoted in Japan as a brand.
I was out of town when Italian Ambassador Gabriele Menegatti and his wife Brigitte hosted a reception on the occasion of the tour of Rossinis’ “ll Barbiere di Siviglia” in Japan. Carole Yoshida and Midori Nishiura were there, and both said it was a really fun get-together with “great musical performances by both Italian and Japanese artists.”
Also sorry I couldn’t get to the press conference for noted director Tim Burton and his actress girlfriend (wife?) Lisa Mari. The loving couple were here for Nippon Herald to promote Tim’s latest film, “Sleepy Hollow.”
When Tim and Lisa were here to promote “Mars Attack!” for Warner Brothers, I spent an evening with them at Kingyo Showclub in Roppongi and another at the Lex. It was fun to be with two talented people who are so devoted to each other.
After a very busy beginning of 2000, Irish Ambassador Declan O’Donovan, a real adventure traveler, took off for two weeks to check out Australia and New Zealand. He, of course, got back in time for the Emerald Ball and all the St. Partick’s Day happenings coming up soon.
Ran into very individualist, sometimes controversial, but always interesting Johnny Walker at the Roppongi Starbucks. He had returned from Europe the day before and was leaving for Egypt to be a judge in an art show the next day. Johnny, easily recognizable by his red plastic-rimmed glasses, keeps busy here as the Tate Gallery representative and organizer of some of the city’s most avant-garde (and wildest) parties.
A few important comings and going on the local travel scene. First, the good news. We’d like to welcome M.M. Abdel Wahab to Japan. He’s Egypt Air’s new G.M., Far East and Australia. As this is the Year of Egypt in Japan, I know he’s going to be super busy.
The bad news is that Jim and Kay Brennan will be relocating to Hong Kong soon. As I have said so often, the Brennans have to be two of the most civic-minded ex-pats living here. It’s not all bad, as Jim is being promoted from V.P. Pacific North, to V.P. Pacific South of United Airlines. Whatever – they’re sure going to be missed here. More on the Brennans later.
*First published at the Tokyo Weekender.