President Back From Japan

Rudenstine Meets With Emperor, Government Officials

President Neil L. Rudenstine returned this weekend from a two-week tour of Japan that included meetings with its emperor and other top officials in the government, business and educational sectors.

The president addressed a group of 300 alumni at an event hosted by the Harvard Club of Japan. And although the University is gearing up for an unprecedented two billion dollar capital campaign, Rudenstine said the trip was not intended as a fund-raising venture.

"We didn't bring up the campaign literally, at all, once," he said.

"We weren't in finishing any deals or asking for any money," said John P. Reardon '60, executive director of the Harvard Alumni Association, who accompanied the president to Japan with several other Harvard administrators.

But Reardon, whose office will play a central role in the fund drive, acknowledged that one of the purposes of the trip was to foster ties with alumni which could translate into increased donations in the fall.


"It seems to me that this office wants many alumni as possible as close to the College and to the University as we can in a whole variety of ways," he said.

"If they're wealthy, [we hope] that they're going to get involved in some area that interests them to want to give to the place that they believe in," Reardon said, describing the trip as "a cultivation process."

Rudenstine also met with the heads of several major Japanese corporations, including Toyota, Sony, Toshiba, NEC and IBM-Japan.

Still, Rudenstine insisted that, although the trip included no "explicit agenda," the experience allowed him to learn more about Japanese culture.

Rudenstine said the trip--which also included a stop in Hong Kong--"exceeded all expectations [and] made a deep impression."

"It was an important trip for me and for Angelica," Rudenstine said in an interview yesterday.

Rudenstine met with most of the top leaders of the Japanese government, including Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, and present and former prime ministers, as well as the current foreign minister and the ministers of education and finance.

His stay also included a dinner with Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Hisashi Owada, father of Japan's future crown princess, Masako Owada '85.

According to Rudenstine, his March 26 meeting with the Japanese emperor and empress at Akasaka Imperial Palace lasted for more than an hour.

"That was really quite wonderful," Rudenstine said. "These are people of considerable intellect and broad ranging interests. We really had a good conversation."

Contacted by telephone last night, a spokesperson for the Imperial Household Agency in Tokyo said the meeting was a private session, with no interpreters present.

"Nobody knows the content of the conversation," said the spokesperson, Chuji Ogino. "The emperor didn't express his feelings to the mass media."

Rudenstine said the conversation ranged from Akihito's interest in the environment and his fascination with white birch trees, to Michiko's pastime of translating Japanese poetry into English.

Rudenstine also attended a four hour session with the presidents of six Japanese universities to discuss differences in the American and Japanese educational systems, and visited a high school physics class