From the Stars and Stripes archives

Japan pays tribute to President Kennedy

U.S. Ambassador to Japan Edwin O. Reischauer, left, says goodbye to Crown Prince Akihito and Crown Princess Michiko after the memorial service in November, 1963.


By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: November 28, 1963

TOKYO — Japanese of all conditions, from the Emperor in his moated palace to the peasant in his rice field, mourned Tuesday for John F. Kennedy, their enemy in war and friend in peace.

Millions watched the moving funeral ceremonies by television, transmitted direct from the United States by satellite communications Relay I. Mare thousands crowded Christian churches to pay a last tribute.

As President, he gave particular attention to relations with Japan, inaugurating economic meetings at cabinet level which in 1960 brought most of the American cabinet here. Secretary of State Dean Rusk and five other cabinet ministers were en route to Tokyo for the third such conference when Kennedy died.

Crown Prince Akihito, accompanied by his young and beautiful consort, Crown Princess Michiko in black mourning kimono, led a distinguished company of government ministers, diplomats and ordinary people in a Solemn Requiem Low Mass at St. Ignatius Catholic Church in the heart of Tokyo. It was celebrated by Monsignor Emmanuel Gerada, charge d'affaires of the Apostolic Internunciature.

The Russian Ambassador, Vladimir Vinogradov, also attended.

The late President's portrait, draped in black, faced the distinguished audience which included U.S. Ambassador Edwin O. Reischauer and his Japanese-born wife, the Princess Chichibu, widow of one of the Emperor's brothers, Mrs, Hayato Ikeda, wife of the Prime Minister, and Mrs. Masayoshi Ohira, wife of the Foreign Minister.

An honor guard made up of a marine, a sailor, an airman and a soldier stood at rigid attention around a flag-draped catafalque before and after the 45-minute services.

A large wreath from the Emperor and Empress stood against the wall close to the altar. The Emperor had asked Akihito and his wife to represent him at the services.

Monks in their saffron and black robes, women in black and white, mantillas draped over their heads, were among those who crowded into the small church.

The government was represented by Acting Prime Minister Ichiro Kono. Near him was former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi, his brother Eisaku Sato, and leader of the socialist opposition Jotaro Kawakami.

"Domo, kono tabi wa, ..." murmured the Crown Prince to Ambassador Reisehauer. "Please accept my sympathy on this sad occasion."

An estimated 3,000 persons, unable to enter the church, waited patiently outside. Then, in a slow, mournful procession, filed in pairs before the altar to pay their last respects.

Some bowed deeply, in the Japanese fashion; others knelt and crossed themselves. A Japanese mother in a red-checked jacket, carrying an infant in her arms, sobbed as she left the church. Many others wiped away tears.

The American Chamber of Commerce in Japan designated Thanksgiving Day as a day of mourning for the American business community and asked American firms to close or restrict their operations Thursday.

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