At 8:15 one morning last week, a minor earthquake rattled Tokyo windowpanes. But the event caused hardly a tremor among the 10,000,000 inhabitants of the world's most populous city. They had already been shaken to near numbness by the presence of U.S. Attorney General Robert Francis Kennedy, 36, brother and most trusted adviser of President John Kennedy, an emerging force in U.S. foreign affairsand an earthquaker in his own right.
Bobby Kennedy, accompanied by his wife Ethel, was on the first leg of a four-week world tour that would take him to eleven other countries. And during his five-day stay in Japan, he displayed all the qualities that have made him, beyond the big fact of being John Kennedy's brother, a major power in U.S. Government. His youthful energies were explosive; his capacity for listening, looking, learning was enormous; his charm (when he felt like turning it on) was electric.
Such a Promotion. From sunup to midnight, from Prime Minister's residence to backstreet sake house, Bob Kennedy shook hands, sang songs, asked questions, argued issues, made speechesand explained the aims of the U.S. under his brother's Administration. The Japanese, accustomed to patriarchs in public life, marveled at his youth. Said a Japanese Supreme Court justice after meeting Bobby: "He must have worked and studied hard to achieve such a pace in promotion." At the Diet, Lower House Speaker Ichiro Kiyose, 77, and Upper House President Tsuruhei Matsuno, 78, watched Kennedy and sighed wistfully. "The days are here," said Matsuno. "for the younger generation to take over." Bobby gracefully deferred to age: "We gain by referring to the wisdom of experience."
But Bob Kennedy also showed the rough side of his tongue. Taking tea with 70 members of the Japanese Bar Association, Kennedy paid tribute to Japan's postwar recovery, called it a triumph of the democratic system of government. One of the lawyers thanked him for such "flattery." Snapped Bobby: "This is a helluva long way to come just to natter somebody. I can do that back home." When a delegation of Socialist legislators spoke some stereotyped criticisms of the U.S., Bobby demanded to know why they never seemed to say anything against the Soviet Union or Red China. "Just how many times," he asked, "have you criticized them in public statements? Give me just three cases." The five Socialists huddled. Finally one said lamely: "Well, once. About Soviet testing."