The Mondales return, diplomatic moves and a movie queen on Embassy Row
By Gail Scott
Mondale: A Crucial Bridge
Buddies from the Carter White House, Congress, and Cleveland Park welcomed Walter Mondale back to Washington when the former senator, vice president, and ambassador to Japan (from 1993 to 1997) was decorated with the highest imperial order Japan bestows upon a foreigner. Mondale and his wife, Joan, are still beloved in Japan.
Japanese Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki presented the guest of honor with the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Paulownia Flowers, saying he had “made the difference” in creating an “everlasting bridge” between the two countries.
Now 81 and still involved with Japanese-American interests, Mondale noted the appropriateness of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s choice of Japan for her first foreign visit. “They had wonderful talks … with such a strong partnership, every big problem can be easily solved.”
The receiving line was full of VIPs with favorite Mondale stories. Norwegian Ambassador Wegger Strommen said his famous friend was not only “Norway’s consul general in Minnesota but ‘chief of the tribe’ of six million Norwegian-Americans,” a “great friend” of King Harald V, and “the first person I called here.” Food writer Marian Burros joked, “The first time I met Walter Mondale was at a Pillsbury Bake-Off in Minneapolis and we’ve been close friends ever since.”