NEW YORK (Nov. 11)
The World Jewish Congress could not prevent Kurt Waldheim from going to Tokyo.
But it believes it succeeded in isolating the Austrian president with a Nazi past, who is among the many chiefs of state or their representatives attending the coronation of Emperor Akihito on Monday.
The WJC reported receiving assurances from Tokyo that no top-level Japanese officials would meet with Waldheim during the coronation.
It also announced Friday that it had won assurances from Vice President Dan Quayle, who is heading the U.S. delegation, that he will neither meet formally nor informally with the Austrian president.
Waldheim, who was an officer in a German army unit linked to atrocities and mass deportations in the Balkans during World War II, has been barred from entry to the United States since his election as Austria’s chief of state in 1986.
His diplomatic isolation has been credited largely to the efforts of the WJC, which exposed the wartime activities Waldheim had concealed from the world during his two terms as secretary general of the United Nations.
Last Thursday, WJC Executive Director Elan Steinberg wrote to the Japanese ambassador in Washington, Ryohei Murata, expressing “a deep sense of shock” that the Japanese government is permitting Waldheim to attend the coronation.
The letter reminded the Japanese envoy that “no parliamentary democracy in the world has allowed Mr. Waldheim to come on a state visit.”
Sources in Washington subsequently confirmed that Waldheim is not scheduled to meet with any Japanese ministers, such as the prime minister or foreign minister. But Japanese officials will escort him and facilitate his visit, the sources said.