Before becoming the vice president under President Jimmy Carter (1976-1980), Walter Mondale served as senator from his native Minnesota from 1964 to 1976. Following a return to private law practice in his home state, Mondale was enlisted back to public life when he was appointed by President Bill Clinton as ambassador to Japan from 1993 to 1996.
The former vice president spoke of why ties must grow between Japan and the Midwest in a brief interview with The Japan Times, which served as daily reading while he was ambassador and regarded “the conduit to people like me to learn about Japan.”
On Minnesota’s ties with Japan:
“I think the relationship is excellent. We don’t have a large Japanese population here, but we have a wonderful Japan-America Society here in Minnesota and we have a very close working relationship with the Consul General of Japan in Chicago. We stay very close, through our Chamber of Commerce, with people that work with Japan.”
On the similarities with Japanese:
“I think the Japanese who would come here would feel very comfortable in Minnesota. We have a very similar, strong culture. We are responsible, we make good friends and we value those friendships. We believe in education and helping our kids get started. All the things that they would want as a part of the culture of business, I think we fit.”
On the expanding relationship with Japan:
“I always want to see more business investment going both ways. I would also like to see more emphasis on student exchanges. Through the Japan-America Society, we have student exchange programs. These young Minnesotans who go there for a year or two, come back having learned about Japan. They’re excited about it, and I think they’ll spend their lives showing a special interest for Japan. So we need more of that, both ways.