OUR GUEST OF HONOR was no stranger to the Club. Eisaku Sato’s first official appearance at the FCCJ had been much earlier, on July 6, 1958, as finance minister, when he established good relations with the foreign press. His next appearance came as prime minister on Feb. 11, 1965, some six months after the 1964 Tokyo Olympics had symbolized Japan’s recovery from the war and emergence as an economic power.

It was at the Club’s 20th anniversary party in October that year that he endeared himself to the foreign correspondents by saying he would make the prime minister’s office more accessible to them. Alas, Japan’s bureaucracy proved to be less cooperative, and his next visit was to be the blacktie dinner in 1967, as shown in the photo, right, and then in June of 1969 when he addressed a Professional Dinner.

Sato and his wife also helped the Club celebrate its 25th anniversary at two parties a small one on the Club’s premises in November of 1970 and a gala event at the Hotel New Otani on Jan. 15, 1971.

Although Prime Minister Sato maintained good relations with the foreign press, the same was not true of their domestic counterparts, and declining popularity led to his resignation in July of 1972. In 1974 he became a joint recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for having signed the nuclear arms Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1970.

Prime Minister of Japan Eisaku Sato being honored by a black-tie dinner at the FCCJ on Dec. 4, 1967. A frequent speaker at the Club, he was PM from November of 1964 to July of 1972. Smiling with him in this photo is Al Kaff of UPI. Kaff was then FCCJ President and Club stalwart, long active both as a board member and as a skit writer for our anniversary parties from 1952 until 1975. Note the old “Press Club Tokyo” speaker’s stand still in use. (Photo from FCCJ Archives)

On a historical note, Eisaku Sato was the younger brother of former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi, the grandfather of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Al Kaff (also pictured) died in October of 2011.

— Charles Pomeroy