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Yukio Okamoto, the hand that cradled the Japan-US alliance

Maverick diplomat ditched bureaucracy but remained an influencer of statecraft

Okamoto speaks at a 2014 event on U.S.-Japan security affairs organized by the Center for Strategic & International Studies. (Photo courtesy of CSIS)

TOKYO -- Back when Yukio Okamoto was a diplomat, his suit jacket was always draped over the back of his chair at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tokyo. As director of the First North America Division, he kept a direct line with the U.S. State Department.

But visitors, reporters and superiors learned over time that they were fooled. No, he was not in the building. Instead, he was either walking the halls of the lawmakers' office building, or even thousands of kilometers away in Washington.

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