Mr. David Watts (1943-2016)
With a deep knowledge of Japanese politics, history and culture, David Watts was one of the distinguished foreign correspondents of The Times who for more than three decades ensured the steady flow of clear, well-written dispatches from Japan and the wider Asian region.
As Tokyo correspondent, he covered the boom years in the mid-1980s when Japanese technology, cars and electronics were making huge inroads into western markets. He also gave valuable insights into Japanese society, as traditional attitudes collided with western fashions, and young Japanese began travelling in huge numbers to Europe and America.
In covering Asia, both from Singapore from 1980 to 1984 and then as Asia editor based in Sydney, Watts witnessed momentous changes. He reported from Manila on the collapse of the Marcos regime in the Philippines, vividly describing the astonishment of demonstrators when they discovered that Imelda Marcos had a collection of some 3,000 shoes in the presidential palace. He covered the aftermath of the bloody Pol Pot regime in Cambodia, where, at one point, he got lost in the jungle; it took three weeks before he was able to make contact with The Times, which was finally able to assure his wife that he was alive.
Watts was also in East Timor during the uprising against Indonesian rule, and saw at first hand the brutal military crackdown in 1979 and the attempts to starve the population into submission. Twenty years later, as East Timor was struggling to consolidate its independence, he witnessed the backlash from the Indonesian military and the desperate attempts by United Nations forces to protect Timorese refugees who had fled to the UN compound in Dili. He was one of the few western journalists to report the massacres of Timorese hiding in churches, their panicked attempts to board Australian flights out of the island and the dangerous evacuation of refugees. He spent several terrifying nights under fire and travelled with the exhausted women and children who were packed into lorries and evacuated to safety.
He was diplomatic correspondent for two years and then deputy foreign editor from 1992 to 1998, when he played a key role in the running of the desk. His clear grasp of world affairs and encouragement of correspondents overseas ensured that The Times’s coverage was timely, accurate and incisive. A dedicated journalist, he had a mischievous sense of humour, which mirrored his smile, and was usually a calming influence in the newsroom and on the phone. There were occasions, however, when he spoke his mind, sometimes quite forcefully.
After a brief spell back overseas as Asia editor, he returned to London in 2000 and was in charge during the biggest news story of the new millennium — the 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. Recognition of his role came with the Foreign Press Association award to The Times for its coverage of 9/11.
Throughout his career, he felt the pull of Japan. In 2004, he was made founding editor of a weekly supplement that the paper produced for the Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun.
David William Watts was born in North Yorkshire, the son of a land agent. He was educated at Denstone College, an independent school in Staffordshire. His first job in journalism was onThe Northern Echo, then edited by Harry Evans, a future editor of The Sunday Times and The Times.Passionately interested in aviation from an early age, he had wanted to become a fighter pilot, but failed the eye test. Nevertheless, he learnt to fly, and was determined to see more of the world. He went to Canada where, bluffing that he had once worked at the Savoy hotel in London, he procured a job as a waiter on the Canadian Pacific railway. He returned to Britain by sailing a catamaran across the Atlantic and then ventured east, taking the trans-Siberian railway. He arrived in Japan in 1970. It was here that he met his future wife, Shizuko, who was working as an interpreter at the Expo 70 world fair. He took a job as a teacher, and in 1971, at the age of 27, started an English-language newspaper, Kansai Action, in Kobe.
He returned overland to Britain on buses and trains across Pakistan and Iran, but was short of money and, at one point, was reduced to selling his blood to pay his way home. He arrived in England in 1973 and joined The Times a year later. Shizuko followed him in 1974 and they were married the next year. The couple had two sons, Mark and Dominic, who are both self-employed in London. They all survive him.
After he retired from The Times in 2007, Watts edited a magazine,Asian Affairs, which was published in New Delhi. He was often called back to The Times where his long experience as a foreign desk editor was still in demand.
His interest in aircraft never left him and, in his spare time, he would often visit airfields. He turned his knowledge into an acclaimed book, published in 2010, on the history of aviation in Bahrain, which covered the country’s crucial role as a British staging post in the development of long-distance flight in the 1920s, through the Second World War to the founding of the Royal Bahrain Air Force and the Gulf War of 1991.
Diagnosed with liver cancer, Watts said nothing of his illness and continued writing. In tribute to his passion for aviation, his family will use donations to have his name inscribed on one of the famous Red Arrows.
Mr. Hisayoshi Ina (1953-2016)
Mr. Hisayoshi Ina, Columnist and Senior Staff Writer at The Nihon Keizai Shimbun and a long-time member of the FCCJ, passed away on April 22 at the age of 62 years. Mr. Ina had been suffering from stomach cancer and was undergoing treatment at the time of his death.
Born in Tokyo, Mr. Ina joined Nihon Keizai Shinbun in 1976 after graduating from Waseda University. At Nikkei he covered mainly political news. During his long journalistic career at Nikkei, Mr. Ina served as a Senior Staff Writer covering foreign affairs and national security; was a regular contributor for the Sunday column "Kazamidori" (Weathercock); and also was the Washington Correspondent of the newspaper. His involvement with Nikkei lasted until the end of his life and his last sarcastically titled article "President Donald Tramp and the World" was published on April 4, just eighteen days before his death.
Mr. Ina was a prolific journalist with varied interests who also had a passion for Haiku. He was awarded the Vaughn-Ueda Memorial Award, the Japanese equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize, in 1998, as recognition of his journalistic accomplishment. During his later years he also held the post of Visiting Professor of Doshisha University and authored the book "Life of A Diplomat, Fumihiko Togo: Negotiator with U.S. Post War Period", which was published by Chuo Koron, Inc.
Mr. Ina is survived by his wife, Ms. Yoshiko Kijima, who is currently serving as a Minister at the Japanese Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia.
James C. Lagier (1935-2015)
JAMES C. LAGIER, a former Associated Press bureau chief in the U.S. and Japan, and FCCJ president, died on Nov. 21 in Walnut Creek, California, after battling cancer, according to his niece, Sydney Lagier. He was 80.
A native of Manteca, California, Lagier joined the AP in Honolulu in 1962 and retired in 2001 as chief of the Tokyo bureau. The two locations were fitting bookends to a career that also took Lagier to San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, New York, Columbus, Ohio, and Fresno, California, as a reporter, newsroom manager and executive. “I never met anyone who didn’t like Jim Lagier,” said Louis D. Boccardi, AP’s president and chief executive officer from 1985 to 2003.
Early in his career, Lagier covered America’s atmospheric nuclear tests in the Pacific and flew on a B-52 bombing mission over Vietnam from Guam. While serving as news desk editor in Los Angeles in 1968, he worked on coverage of the assassination of U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and filed the AP bulletin on Kennedy’s death. As bureau chief in San Francisco from 1972 to 1974, he oversaw coverage of the kidnapping of newspaper heiress Patty Hearst. And in Japan, he supervised reporting about the 1995 Kobe earthquake that killed more than 6,000 people.
Lagier once said during an interview that he felt like he was on a “yo-yo” at one point in his AP career. “I felt like I was a vagabond, and I was so astounded that I was being chosen for these fabulous jobs,” he said. “I mean, a lower-middle-class person, born into poverty, suddenly having these electrifying jobs in the world’s oldest, largest and most lovable news-gathering organization.”
Lagier said a highlight of his news career was his tenure in the San Francisco bureau, where he was responsible for coverage of Northern California during Vietnam War protests. Lagier previously worked in AP’s Fresno bureau, where he wrote about Cesar Chavez’s efforts to organize farm workers.
In 1975, Lagier became bureau chief for Ohio. His news editor there, Henry Heilbrunn, recalled that Lagier frequently walked his newsrooms at all hours, stopping at desks to urge his staff to “be happy in your work.”
The following year, Lagier was appointed general executive for New England, based in Boston. Starting in 1979, he served as deputy director for newspaper membership at AP headquarters in New York City.
Lagier was transferred to Tokyo in 1993, returning to a country he had visited while serving in the U.S. Army in Seoul, Korea.
Lagier graduated with honors from the University of California, Berkeley in 1962 and left the AP for a year in 1966 to complete graduate school and teach journalism there. He was a benefactor to the University of California, establishing a charitable trust in journalism and leaving a gift to the music department.
Before joining AP, he worked as the sports editor and a general assignment reporter at the Hanford Sentinel in California. Lagier was also an accomplished pianist and studied with jazz piano teachers in the New York City area. --AP
A colleague remembers
by Kaz Abiko
THE NEWS OF JIM Lagier’s passing deeply saddened us in Tokyo, even though we knew it was coming, as he had been receiving hospice care at his home. As everyone who knew him would agree, he was a wonderful person, certainly one of a kind.
Jim served as Tokyo bureau chief for the AP from 1993 through 2001 and as FCCJ president, 1995-96.He was asked to run for FCCJ president because the Club needed a solid representative of a major news organization to head the Club in its 50th anniversary year, although he had been in Tokyo for only two years.
At the 50th anniversary party, Jim marveled at the Club, saying, “Its membership consists of some of the most memorable journalists, scalawags and hangers-on as you can find anywhere: petulant, irritating, crusty, crotchety, witty, caring, childish, emotional, sentimental, articulate, opinionated, cynical, rude, hard-drinking, hard-driving. That’s the short list.”
Because of the high yen and Japan’s economic downturn, Club membership had dropped to a low of about 1,700. Jim orchestrated a membership drive that helped increase the number to more than 2,000 in five months.
Jim was a paternal figure at AP Tokyo as well as the FCCJ – a loving and caring father of the family. He also was a skilled manager and adept politician. Markus Kreutz, former AP chief of communication in Tokyo, said, “Witnessing one particular sensitive meeting with overseas visitors that was conducted by Jim and concluded in the most pleasant of manners, I came away thinking that Jim could tame a lion if need be.”
He used to say that the AP is “the world’s oldest, largest and most lovable news agency.” During his retirement party at the FCCJ in 2001, I said he was “the AP’s oldest, largest and most lovable bureau chief.” We will miss him greatly
Vellayappa “Chuck” Chokalingam
By Monzurul Huq
OUR BELOVED CHUCK LINGAM breathed his last peacefully at home on Sept. 23. He had been hospitalized from a bout of pneumonia but had recovered and was released on Sept. 9. He would have been 101 years old this month.
Those who had become close to Chuck during his long tenure as a member of the FCCJ will all remember him fondly and feel his absence in their hearts. He departs us after travelling a long road stretching over a century that made him a living witness to events shaping modern Japan. Born in Nov. 1914, Vellayappa Chokalingam, known to fellow Club members as “Chuck” or “Lingam,” came to Japan in the 1930s and joined the Club half a century ago in 1965. As a result, remembering Chuck is like remembering the many years of the existence of the FCCJ, as well as Japan’s war-time and post-war history. In some ways, Lingam’s history mirrored Japan’s. A quick glimpse at the duration of his life, particularly the part that he had spent in Japan, provides us with convincing evidence in support of this presumption.
He was born to a South Indian merchant family with business interests in Malaya and Singapore. Many of the male family members of the well-established clan had been sent to Europe for higher studies and Lingam, too, was offered that opportunity. Instead, after completing high school in Singapore he decided to travel in the opposite direction – and sailed for Japan with the dream of becoming an engineer specializing in power generation. He hoped to eventually put into practice the knowledge acquired in Japan to expand the family business in the power sector. But destiny had something else in stock for him.
His first encounter with Japan was at the port city of Nagasaki on a sunny morning in the spring of 1935. The 21-year old Lingam had not the slightest hint that his stay in the country would be a long and eventful one – full of exciting encounters at a turbulent time of Japanese history. That first encounter also exposed his youthful eyes to a few contradictions of Japanese life. As his ship approached Japan from Singapore, he was pretty sure that he was going to encounter a country preserving its oriental traditions, which he had seen being appreciated in other parts of Asia. People he met at Nagasaki, however, were all dressed in Western attire; he had an initial sense of relief, convinced that the dress code was a sign that Western languages were equally at home. To his surprise, nobody spoke a single word of English and he had to find the way to the station himself, with much difficulty.
In Tokyo he enrolled at Kogyo University and rented a place near Shinjuku. It was a time when exiled Indians in Japan were organizing a liberation movement that would free India from British colonial domination. After the beginning of the war, as the imperial Japanese army started moving westward from Burma, the movement received the patronage of the Japanese government. It was sometime during the period that the leader of the movement, Rash Behari Bose, asked young Lingam to become his private secretary. Though he was a bit hesitant at first, believing that accepting the offer might disrupt his study, he decided to join Bose – and his close association with the leader continued until Bose’s death in early 1945.
Japan’s defeat placed Lingam in a difficult situation as he was essentially a part of the losing side. But he was eventually able to overcome that difficulty with the help of friends and acquaintances in Japan. The second phase of his life took him into the world of business where he eventually established himself as a successful Japanese businessman of Indian origin. India had always been close to him, but deep in heart he was much closer to his adopted country that he thought had given him so much. Joining the FCCJ in 1965, he gradually became a familiar figure who would spend much of his free time surrounded by his friends at the Club, which honored him with a life membership on his ninetieth birthday in 2004.
In an interview with No. 1 Shimbun last year, on reaching the milestone of 100 years, Chuck was asked how he felt being a centenarian. His quick reply was “nothing changes.” Yes, Chuck, nothing overtly changes as we pass our ordinary days and get on with the difficulties of life. But we also know that there are times when a vacuum appears somewhere deep inside, a void that nothing can fill-up. This is exactly what many of us feel right now as we realize we will no longer share your presence. ❶
Monzurul Huq represents the largest-circulation Bangladeshi national daily, Prothom Alo. He was FCCJ president from 2009 to 2010.
Michel Théoval (1940 - 2015)
FCCJ Associate Member Michel Théoval passed away on 24 June, 2015 in Paris.
Our thoughts are with his wife, daughter, friends and colleagues during this period of great sorrow.
As President of GHT, a division of PMC, Senior Vice Chairman of the European Business Council in Japan (EBC) and First Vice President of the French Chamber of Commerce in Japan, Michel Théoval dedicated his career to promoting both commercial and public relations with Japan on behalf of France and the European Union. Mr. Théoval also made a significant contribution to the EU-Japan FTA,which at present, is under negotiation.
Mr. Théoval was an active member of the EBC and the EBC Aeronautics, Space, Defence and Security Committee for more than twenty years and served with great dedication as Senior Vice Chairman of the EBC from 2010.
He was an active member of the French Chamber of Commerce in Japan from 1999 and served as First Vice President of the Chamber from 2006. Mr. Théoval was also appointed as a Foreign Trade Advisor to the French Government.
Aviation was Michel’s great love and during his career, he worked for Cessna, Aerospatiale and Thomson CSF-Thales.In January 2011,Mr. Théoval co-founded GHT (Group HiTech), a divisionof PMC Co Ltd, a French advisory and strategy consulting firm, based in Tokyo, to introduce innovative European technology into the Japanese marketplace. In this capacity, he also supported cross-border partnerships for Japanese SMEs in the French marketplace.
Mr. Théoval wrote numerous publications related to defense and geostrategic issues and was a specialist in the field of military history.
Mr. Théoval was decorated by the French Government as a Knight of the National Order of Merit in 2001 and as a Knight in the National Order of the Legion of Honour in 2006.
故ミッシェル・テオヴァルは、ピー・エム・シー株式会社の一部門であるGHT – Group Hi Techの代表をはじめ、欧州ビジネス協会・在日欧州連合商工会議所(EBC)シニア副会長、在日フランス商工会議所(CCIFJ) 第一副会頭として、フランスと欧州連合、双方の立場から常に強い情熱を持って日本との商業・広報活動を行ってまいりました。
タレスジャパン株式会社を定年退職後、2011年1月、東京に拠点を置くフランス系コンサルティング会社、ピー・エム・シー株式会社にてGHT – Group Hi Techを共同設立。欧州の革新的なテクノロジーを日本市場へ紹介すると共に、日本の中小企業のフランス市場とのパートナーシップをサポートする。
Yozo Hasegawa (1943-2015)
We regretfully announce the passing of Mr. Yozo Hasegawa, former Board of Director of FCCJ and former co-chair of the Special Project Committee, from pancreatic cancer at a hospital in Tokyo at 09:13 am on January 20, 2015. He was 71 years old. Mr. Hasegawa was a Regular member of the FCCJ since 2001. We thank Ms. Haruko Watanabe for allowing us to distribute to our members the following obituary she wrote for Mr. Hasegawa.
We are deeply sorry to inform you of the sudden passing away of Mr. Yozo Hasegawa, our beloved and respected colleague of the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan.
Mr. Hasegawa died at age 71 due to pancreatic cancer on January 20 in Tokyo. His funeral will be conducted from 10:30 a.m. on January 31 at Reinanzaka Church, 1-14-3 Akasaka, Minato-ku. He was a confirmed bachelor and is survived by his elder brother Mr. Soichi Hasegawa.
Upon graduation from the Economic Department of Keio University, he joined the Nihon Keizai Shimbun (The Economic Journal of Japan). He served as bureau chief of the newspaper's Warsaw and Vienna offices. He was well known as one of the top journalists in the automotive industry as well as the anchor person of the Radio Nikkei Saturday morning show which presented examples of creative companies as well as introducing professionals in the fields of arts and sports.
He also served as a professor of Teikyo University and a lecturer of the Peers' University (Gakushu-in).
Hasegawa-san contributed his time and energy as the Club's second vice president in charge of human resources as well as co-chair of the Special Projects Committee, where he organized many factory visits.
Photo by Yoshikazu Tsuno, AFP
Jacques Lhuillery (1954-2015)
Jacques Lhuillery, Tokyo bureau chief for Agence France-Presse, has died in hospital in France. He was 61 and had been suffering from cancer.
Japan was the most recent posting in a distinguished career with AFP that had stretched three-and-a-half decades, including stints in Tehran, Madrid, The Hague, Beirut, Lagos and Abidjan.
This geographical variety and the curiousness with which he probed life made Jacques a great storyteller, someone always ready with an anecdote. These came in a variety of flavors, from the whimsical – riding tricycles around the bureau in a just-post-revolutionary Iran – to the literally hair-raising, like the time he woke up to find his Nigerian house on fire, or drove through gun-toting militia to get back to the office and file his story.
Jacques was an accomplished raconteur with a talent for languages. He could tell his tales in English, German, Dutch, Spanish as well as his native French.
Although he never quite got to grips with Japanese, he achieved the same adequate degree of proficiency as he had in a dozen other languages – he could order beer. And wine. And whisky. A sufficiently lubricated tongue would reveal an impressive repertoire of quotes from cult French movies and on more than one occasion, an alarmingly realistic impression of a certain former President de la Republic, with whom he shared a name and a fascination with Japan.
Jacques was an old-time journalist, a man absorbed by his job, and someone who had little patience with bureaucracies and the formalities of modern working life. He was deeply inquisitive and never stopped asking “Why?” He used to say that he was the kind of person who would wake up in the morning wondering about something, and this was what drove him to write. “If I didn't scratch my head, I'd be scratching something else,” he would say.
This curiosity brought him into contact with the great and the good, including dictators, prime ministers – Shinzo Abe among their number – and artists. One of his proudest moments in Tokyo was interviewing maestro Seiji Ozawa at the French ambassador's residence, on the occasion of an impromptu (and very exclusive) mini concert.
Jacques was a proud Breton, a man who wore his Gallic stubbornness as a badge of honor. He knew that this brought him into conflicts that might otherwise have been avoided, but never tired of putting up a fight. He was deeply proud of his family – a wife and four children – who travelled the world with him throughout his working life.
Last January, as he turned 60, he became a grandfather for the first time. The joy and delight in his eyes when he spoke of his young grandson was truly heart-warming.
His summer last year was spent back in France at the home he loved in Brittany, where he spent weeks indulging his greatest passions – family, fishing, reading and fine French food. When he came back to Tokyo in September, the cough that had dogged him for months was still there.He dismissed it as a virus until tests revealed he had developed lung cancer.
In November, he returned to France for treatment, leaving his colleagues in Tokyo under strict instruction not to tell people what was happening. When we heard from him, it was for him to speak of his optimism and his determination to beat the disease, despite the debilitating effect of chemotherapy.
His sudden death in a Brest hospital on the night of the Jan. 17 has deprived AFP of a funny, charming and ebullient Tokyo bureau chief, and an accomplished writer.
It has taken a wonderful father, grandfather, a husband and a son from one corner of Brittany.
And it has dimmed a light that shone in the world of journalism.
-- Huw Griffith
Dr. Frederick Isaac Shane (1925-2014)
It is with great sadness that Dr. Frederick Isaac Shane passed away November 12th, 2014 at 5:39 AM
I received the news of Dr. Shane's passing with the greatest personal sadness. I knew Dr. Shane from the early 1970's when I met him at the Training Meetings of the 5854th Civil Affairs Unit that met at the Old Sanno Hotel in Akasaka. He regularly traveled all the way from Kobe to attend the reserve meetings in Tokyo until he permanently moved to Tokyo. Dr. Shane was a very humble, kind, incredibly generous friend and mentor to all of us in the reserve unit. His experiences from his Korean War duty were passed on to all of us at the unit. Dr. Shane was already a Bird Colonel when I first met him and I was awed because he never pulled rank on company grade officers. He served his country in the United States Army Reserves until his retirement.
Dr. Shane was the director of the American Clinic Tokyo (formerly known as the Shane Clinic) for 60 years before his retirement in 2013. He devoted his entire career to serving the English speaking community in Japan. Many of the longtime residents as well as
visiting VIP’s were medically served by the outstanding Family Practice Physician.
Dr. Shane joined FCCJ in February 1996 as Associate Member and resigned in January 2014 after his health started to fail him. His familiar face will be greatly missed by all of us at the FCCJ.
Milton H. Isa
Shijuro Ogata (1928-2014)
Former Board Director, the Bank of Japan
From Jurek Martin in Washington
The formal obituaries of Shijuro Ogata, the former deputy governor of the Bank of Japan who has died at the age of 86, will take due note of his policy making roles over a long career, invariably executed with acumen. They will also record that, as he frequently said with affection, he was hardly the most famous Ogata in his own household, second to his wife, Sadako, who was the UN High Commissioner for Refugees for a decade and holder of more than one Japanese government humanitarian portfolio.
What is less well known is the extent to which he was single-handedly responsible for opening up the previously closed Japanese bureaucracy to the western media – and all through the device of a tea party of his own mischievous creation.
In the early 1980s the BoJ was generally considered to be subservient to, even under the thumb of, the mighty Ministry of Finance. Additionally, at the time, all Japanese government departments, with the exception of, naturally enough, the Foreign Ministry, which had no alternative, did not recognize the existence of foreign correspondents based in Tokyo. They preferred to deal with the strictly Japanese "kisha," or press clubs, from which foreigners were excluded.
The same was true of Japanese industry. The prime example of this was when Toyota, announcing its first ever foreign manufacturing facility in California, forgot to apprise the American media, which learned about it the next day from Japanese newspapers. Representations were made, from the Foreign Correspondents Club on down, and Toyota promised never to do such a thing again.
All this never seemed right to Mr. Ogata, who combined the best of Japan's often suppressed liberal tradition with a puckish sense of humor and who, it so happened, spoke English perfectly. So, perhaps initially more in hope than in expectation, he began a series of weekly Thursday afternoon tea parties for resident foreign correspondents at which he would expand on the BoJ's thinking on monetary and economic policy.
He never made great news but he did make good copy and what the BoJ thought began to appear in the western press, like the FT, the Wall Street Journal and other influential foreign publications. This was anathema to MoF, unaccustomed as it was for the central bank to have a voice at all about anything.
MoF felt it had to respond and get its views out, too, and it had the man to match Ogata in the person of Toyoo Gyohten, its articulate and aggressive senior bureaucrat, then serving as deputy minister and equally fluent in English (but also known as "the beast"). So it began Friday night wine and cheese parties for the foreign hacks, who were suspected to be more partial to liquor than tea.
Eventually this came to the attention of MITI, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, which then truly ruled the economic roost as the acknowledged mastermind of the Japanese economic miracle, recognized by no less than Chalmers Johnson, the formidable University of California Japan specialist. MITI made available its policy makers to foreign journalists at dinners as lavish as only the Japanese can provide, sometimes one-on-one, occasionally en masse. The foreign press reeled, in more ways than one.
Mr. Ogata, mission accomplished, reveled in all this. It was evidence, in his view, that Japan could become the more open society he desired. This was after all, in his bloodlines, from a distinguished family steeped in exposure to the wider world.
In the 1860s, before the formal Meiji Restoration, his grandfather had been dispatched by the Emperor to Manchester, England, to learn more about this industrial revolution that had barely touched Japan. He reported back on the city's belching smokestacks and concluded, much as Lincoln Steffens did about Lenin’s Soviet Union 60 years later, that he had "seen the future and it works."
Mr. Ogata himself was the son of the editor of the Asahi Shimbun, a bastion of Japanese liberalism before he, and the newspaper he ran, were eventually coopted into the Japanese war effort in the 1940s. He was still a teenager when nuclear bombs destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki and remembers thinking at the time that the war was all over for his country. He was an old man when he published a letter in the FT two years ago bemoaning that Japanese nationalists were provoking an unnecessary dispute with China over the Senkaku islands. He stayed true to his beliefs throughout his life.
On a personal note, he and Sadako were my best eyes and ears (and friends) on the mystery that was Japan when I lived and reported from there, never more so than on the most difficult story I ever had to write, on the 40th anniversary of Hiroshima. Nobody ever gave me a better insight on what it meant to the Japanese.
Still, the indelible memory is of those early tea parties, down to the biscuits and the china cups. The sadness at his death is made the more acute by the knowledge that, in some ways, Japan has reverted to pre-Ogata type. The "kisha" clubs, I learned on good authority from an American who once worked for the Asahi Shimbun, do not admit the foreign press any more.
Jurek Martin was Tokyo bureau chief of the Financial Times from 1982-1986, and was FCCJ President from 1985-1986.
John Hubbard Rich, Jr. (1917-2014)
Veteran NBC News war correspondent and former
Remembering John Rich
and D. Lee Rich (1920-2014)
by Charles Pomeroy
One of our more famous correspondents over past decades, John Rich, died on April 9th at his home in Maine. His death followed by five weeks that of his wife, D. Lee, who passed away on February 28th. They were soul mates to the end.
John Rich led an extraordinary life. First as a decorated war veteran and then as a legendary correspondent with a career spanning almost 50 years from the end of WWII in 1945 to the Gulf War in 1991-92. This is amply clear from the accompanying obituary sent to the FCCJ by his family that gives us an overall picture of John’s life.
Our tribute will focus on John’s contributions to the Club. These began in the very early years when he came to Japan immediately following WWII as the correspondent for International News Service (INS). A quick review of our history book, Foreign Correspondents in Japan, shows that he had a wry sense of humor, as can be seen in the first reference to him in our history book, on pages 34-35, in which he and several other Japanese-speaking correspondents appeared on a 1947 NHK quiz program. There, a bell was rung to signify a wrong answer, leading John to describe their group as “No-bell prize winners.”
In a more serious role, John describes coverage of the 1948 executions of war criminals on page 37 of our history book. Pages 37 and 39 then mention his service as the Club’s 2nd Vice-President in 1948 and 1949. It was during this period, too, that he covered the civil war in China and the Indochina War in which Ho Chi Minh was fighting French forces. John’s command of both the French and Japanese languages served him well during these turbulent years.
John switched to NBC News in 1950. As their radio correspondent, he covered the entire Korean War from its very beginning in 1950 to signing of the armistice at Panmunjom in July of 1953. That set the record for the longest coverage of the war by a single correspondent. He was also noted for his many color photos—rare for the period—taken during that conflict. These were later turned into a book, some of which can be seen at this link:http://issuu.com/seoulselection/docs/koreanwarincolor_1 .
Like many correspondents during the K-War, John alternated between the Korean battlefront and Tokyo. As noted on pages 61-62 of our history book, John wryly describes the overturning and burning of his new car by student protesters during the May Day riots of 1951, an event captured on film by the AP’s Max Desfor. In an unfortunate bit of timing, he had lent the car to a correspondent friend who, unwittingly, had parked it near the headquarters of General MacArthur.
But a major turning point awaited John in Seoul following the Korean War. There he met his future soul mate, Doris Lee Halstead—known to one and all as “D. Lee”—who worked for the State Department as a secretary. They were married in September of 1954 and launched their new family with two children born within the next two years while living in New York. Then, as both a radio and television correspondent, John headed the NBC bureau in Berlin, a base from which he covered other wars, both the cold one in Europe and hot civil wars in Africa.
The Rich family quickly expanded when D. Lee gave birth to twins in Berlin, increasing their number of children to four. There, he also witnessed the Berlin Wall being raised in 1961 before moving on to Paris. There, for expressing his views on their problems in Algeria, the French government made him persona non grata—which only added to his prestige among correspondents. This perhaps hastened his return to Tokyo in 1962—this time with D. Lee and four children. John again became involved in Club affairs, which would lead to his presidency in 1970.
D. Lee Rich, while looking after the family, also found time for the College Women’s Association of Japan (CWAJ), an organization that held an annual showing of woodblock prints in Tokyo to raise funds for its scholarship program. That’s where I first met her in the 1960s when one of my prints was included in the CWAJ show at the Tokyo American Club (my ambition to become an artist faded soon thereafter). I recall being impressed by her knowledge of modern Japanese prints. It was only later as a newly minted correspondent that I got to know John.
John’s leadership style was low-key, but effective. A number of critical issues were resolved during his one-year presidency of the FCCJ from July of 1970. First off was the membership crisis, in which the increasing number of Associate members threatened to overwhelm the correspondent membership. The total number of members was frozen, at slightly over 2,000, as described on page 189 of our history book. Secondly, he established a committee to re-write the Club’s Articles of Association and By-Laws, a project involving a number of key members over the next four years. It was also one that served us well until the recent revision to bring us in line with koeki status.
And then there was our history. The Club’s Silver Jubilee took place during the Rich administration, which seemed appropriate for a veteran correspondent. Due to limited space in the Club, our 25th anniversary was observed along traditional lines in November. This was followed by a full-scale gala event held at a major hotel in January of 1971 to celebrate the event, which was attended by Prime Minister Eisaku Sato and his wife. They can be seen in a photo with John and D. Lee toasting the occasion on page 195 of our history book. To mark this anniversary, John announced the creation of an FCCJ scholarship fund for young journalists, with an eye to the future.
While still president of the Club, John in 1971 was among the select group of Press Club members to be allowed into China as part of the opening of that country under its so-called Ping-Pong diplomacy. Other noted members included China-experts John Roderick of the Associated Press and Greg Clark of the Australian. This event is described on page 194 of our history book.
D. Lee, too, expanded her role in community affairs by introducing an art program to brighten the lives of patients at St. Luke’s hospital in Tokyo. In 1970 she was named “Woman of the Year” by the Tokyo American Club. She and John, both avid tennis players, regularly played at the Tokyo Lawn Tennis Club, where on one occasion they met Crown Prince Akihito (who is now Emperor) Princess Michiko. This meeting was captured on film, which can be seen in the Photo Gallery on the memorial website for D. Lee Rich at the link below. They were, indeed, a busy couple.
John’s next major appearance in our history book came in 1976, when the Club premises moved from Babasaki-mon to Yurakucho. The photo on page 225 shows him and fellow Club stalwarts carrying the FCCJ sign in the short march up Nakadori to our new home. Those stalwarts are John Roderick on his right, Mack Chrysler on his left, who in turn is flanked by Max Desfor, all former presidents. This impressive photo also appears on back slipcover of the book.
From his NBC base in Tokyo, John Rich had also covered the war in Vietnam until the fall of Saigon in 1975, marking his second round in that area following his earlier coverage with INS following WWII. Nearing the end of his career he then became NBC's senior Asian correspondent as well as a vice-president of the RCA Corporation, the parent of NBC.
But being an old warhorse, John couldn’t resist covering the Gulf War in 1991-92. This time it was for the weekly Journal of Westbrook, Maine, as described on page 318 or our book. He was 73, the oldest correspondent to cover that war. Somehow, it seemed an appropriate way for him to end his career, once again a war correspondent.
Both John and D. Lee were community-minded and contributed much to the Club. Despite covering wars for decades and rubbing elbows with generals, emperors, and prime ministers as well as military “grunts” on the ground, John remained unassuming, open, and accessible. My final contact with him was in 2004 during his last visit to Tokyo. Having heard from a mutual friend that he was in the Club, I called from my retirement home in Otsuchi on the Iwate coast to welcome him back. We had a nice chat, in which he described his return to Tokyo as “delightful.” Ever the gentleman, he sent me a follow-up postcard, dated October 12, 2004, that I kept as a memento.
John Rich and D. Lee were, indeed, soul mates to the end. RIP
Further details can be found at the below links. The photo galleries in particular are of interest:
D. Lee Rich: