Slices of Japanese business, politics and life
When he met Japan’s incoming prime minister, a football helmet was the catalyst for conservation . Then Washington’s envoy in Tokyo bonded with the next foreign minister over a frog.
Katsuya Okada, who is expected to be appointed as Japan’s next foreign minister this week, is a policy maven with a “Mr. Clean” image. He is also known in Japan as an avid collector of frog-related knick-knacks such as miniatures and soft toys.
When the new U.S. ambassador to Japan, John Roos, found out about Okada’s predilection for all things froggy, he clearly thought it would be an excellent icebreaker for a meeting between the two…although he stopped short of taking an actual frog to the rendezvous.
“I explained to him how I had started collecting frogs on my trip to Jerusalem and how I have been buying them whenever I see them on overseas trips,” Okada said.
That was pretty much the reaction in Japan when U.S. President Barack Obama tapped California lawyer and campaign donor John Roos as ambassador to Tokyo.
News of the choice sent Japanese diplomats and U.S.-Japan watchers scrambling for information about Roos, whom one U.S. expert described to me in a hurried email as a “Silicon valley mover and shaker, not with any link to Japan, though clearly to Obama”.