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Leftists Boycott Robert F. Kennedy in Kyoto

Feb. 8, 1962 - Left-wing students boycotted a scheduled meeting with Robert F. Kennedy (pictured left at a karate demonstration) today in Kyoto. The U.S. Attorney General promptly charged them with lacking the courage to debate. “I don’t think it’s very courageous,” he told other students at a discussion session, “to denounce someone from a distance and not be willing to meet him face to face. It’s no good to retreat within a cell, exchange views only with those who agree with you, yell slogans, and march with signs.” The President’s brother ran into some Communist shouts and signs on a tour of Kyoto today, but the demonstrations were unimpressive. Their main effect seemed to be to embarrass the crowds of Japanese who were there to cheer. The discussion session with the leftists was arranged three weeks ago. Last night, the leftists voted to withdraw, explaining that they could not talk to an “American imperialist.” “I’m very sorry they didn’t come,” said Mr. Kennedy. “I don’t bite. It’s important in a democracy to exchange views. The answer to disagreement is free discussion, not violence against those who disagree.”

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