A recent news item in The Japan Times really shocked me. It concerned what a former political heavyweight once said in private.

I am not easily shocked by what politicians say or do in private. John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson often used barnyard language to describe their real and perceived enemies. Well, let's not be prudes. You couldn't keep abreast of American politics if you thought SOB stood for "Silly Old Bumbler." And, when it comes to more than words, I couldn't give a Lewinsky for what presidents actually get up, or down to, in private.

But Henry Kissinger's remark in 1972 about the Japanese people, as reported in this paper on May 28, stands out.