Kim Willenson, journalist

October 1, 2013

Kim Willenson, a former United Press International and Newsweek magazine journalist whose specialties included Asian affairs, died Sept. 20 at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington. He was 76.

The cause was a brain hemorrhage and complications resulting from brain tumors, said his wife, Ayako Doi.

From 1963 to 1973, Mr. Willenson worked for UPI in Tokyo, Bangkok and Saigon, where he was a writer during the Vietnam War. He later worked in Washington for UPI as a reporter on national security.

He worked for Newsweek from 1973 to 1987, first as a writer based in New York and as Tokyo bureau chief in the early 1980s. He later covered the Pentagon from Washington.

In 1990, he and his wife founded the Daily Japan Digest newsletter, a Washington-based English-language publication. They added a weekly newsletter, Japan Automotive Digest, in 1995. The Daily Japan Digest was discontinued in 2004 and the Automotive Digest in 2009.

Mr. Willenson was author of “The Bad War,” a retrospective on the conflict in Vietnam, published by New American Library in 1987. He was co-winner of an Overseas Press Club award for reporting on the war between Ethiopia and Somalia in 1977.

Kim Jeremy Willenson was born in Milwaukee. He served in the Army and in 1960 graduated from the University of Wisconsin. In 1962, he graduated from the Columbia University journalism school.

He worked briefly as an editor for The Washington Post’s Metro section early in his career, then went to Tokyo on a Pulitzer traveling fellowship. He was a Falls Church resident.

His first marriage, to Keiko Okubo, ended in divorce. Survivors include his wife of 31 years, Ayako Doi of Falls Church; a son from his first marriage, Kevin Willenson of West Hills, Calif.; two sons from his second marriage, Daniel Willenson of Somerville, Mass., and Eric Willenson of Brooklyn; and a grandson.

— Bart Barnes

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