The United States has a long history of sending top-notch people to serve as Ambassador to Japan, and Minnesota’s own Walter Mondale certainly fits the description: as a former Vice President and Senator, he was dubbed O-mono (a “magnate”) by the Japanese press when President Bill Clinton appointed him in 1993. He served with distinction, earning praise in both countries for his deft handling of trade disputes and a serious diplomatic crisis involving U.S. military personnel.
After his return to Minnesota in 1997, the Japan America Society of Minnesota created the Mondale Award for Japan-Minnesota Partnership to recognize outstanding contributions to the building of understanding, cooperation and respect between the people of Japan and Minnesota. The Award was named for—and first presented to—Joan and Walter Mondale to recognize his service as Ambassador and her ongoing efforts to promote the arts in both countries.
Since then, the Mondale Award has been presented annually to individuals and organizations who have made outstanding contributions of their own: