Ambassador Ryozo Kato has served for six years overseeing strengthening bi-lateral ties while enjoying the splendor of Japan’s traditional-meets-modern Ambassador’s residence.
By Michael M. Clements
Photography Gary Landsman
It’s a snowy December evening and a black-tie crowd of Japanese businessmen, embassy staff, U.S. Foreign Service alumni, and influential Japanese-Americans are congenially milling about the Four Seasons Hotel ballroom. They have gathered to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Japan America Society of Washington, D.C.
After several rounds of loud woodblock clops (in lieu of Washington’s de rigueur bell chime) and some brisk tableside business card exchanges, guests settle into their seats. Former Vice President Walter Mondale, who served as ambassador to Japan during the Clinton era, speaks first. He begins with a joke and finishes with fond recollections of his time in Japan. Former Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta follows with an equally polished and respectful speech. The evening stays true to form, format, and formality … until Ambassador Ryozo Kato, Japan’s longest serving post-World War II ambassador to the U.S., takes the podium.