The president of the United States and the prime minister of Japan toasted one another and the spirit of freedom and free enterprise last night, after a long day of discussions which Ronald Reagan called "positive and constructive."
Reagan's toast to Zenko Suzuki at the White House state dinner in the prime minister's honor stressed the spirit of cooperation and competition that has marked American-Japanese relations. "We have been principal trading partners and chief competitors," he said, and then he told a long Japanese story about rival singers in two villages and how their competitive spirit improved the singing of each.
In his toast, Suzuki expressed the Japanese people's admiration of Reagan's "calm presence of mind and admirable sense of humor" after the recent assassination attempt. He also praised the "heroic achievement" of the space shuttle Columbia. "Although it was 3 a.m. local time, over 3 million Japanese sat glued to their television sets" to watch Columbia return to earth, he said.
One of the points in common that the two national leaders had discussed during the day was the fact that they are both 70 years old -- "Both proud of being a youthful 70" -- as Suzuki put it. Turning to Reagan, he said, "I cannot match your youth and vitality. This is because I was born 26 days before you, which gives you a big edge."
Reagan said that in view of the 26-day difference in their ages, Suzuki told him that "form here on our relationship would be one in which he would be the elder brother."
During his toast, Suzuki also congratulated the president on one of the prime topics of discussion at the White House last night, "Your great victory today, as your budget passed Congress."
After the toasts, which were given in English and Japanese, the stars and the politicians talked about acting and poltics. On the Truman balcony, Clint Eastwood and National Security Adviser Richard V. Allen talked about "The Eiger Sanction," which Allen said he had seen five times, and about Eastwood's next film. "That's about the Soviet Union, so I'll see that one at least six times," said Allen.
Eastwood was reminiscing about a trip he made to Japan in the mid-1960s when "Rawhide" was the No. 1 television show there, when a telephone rang on the balcony. Eastwood looked around, then picked it up, saying, "I told you never to call me here."
Inside, in the Red Room, closer to the warmth of the coffee and brandy, and to Ronald and Nancy Reagan, was "Shogun" star Richard Chamberlain. He promised Carolyn Deaver that he would teach her son to sword-fight. The president, who was wearing a dress shirt with horizontal ruffles, posed for pictures with his Japanese visitors and accepted business cards from them.
During the dinner protocol chief Leonore Annenberg's curtsy last week to England's Prince Charles was till a subject of conversation. Mrs. Douglas Fairbanks Jr. told Annenberg she was "absolutely right" in doing what she did, and Annenberg replied that "she was feeling bruised about all the criticism."
After dining on pached halibut veronique, roast tenderloin of beef, potatoes with artichoke hearts and asparagus hollandaise, the guests moved to the East Room, where soporano Shirley Verrett sang a program of Schubert Lieder, Verdi arias and American songs, including the spiritual, "Every Time I Feel the Spirit" and "Summertime" from "Porgy and Bess."
She surprised the prime minister with a traditional Japanese song, "Sakura," which she sang for the first time in public. Shortly after midway in the program, two marines began to try to bring a microphone onstange (for the president's speech ending the formal part of the evening) after each number. Verrett stopped them each time with a look and, near the end, said, "I have two more arias on the program, don't I?" When he finally came up to make his final, brief speech, Reagan looked at the microphone and said apologetically to Verrett, "I need it."
"I understand," said Verrett.
Before the entertainment, Sen. Henry Jackson (D-Wash.), whose dinner companion was his 18-year-old daughter Anna Marie, joined the president briefly. He said his serious discussion with the president didn't have anything to do with the budget. "We were talking about operations, I had one for seven hours, and I told him 'old men do well on operating tables.'" Reagan's appearance confirmed this diagnosis. On the first state occasion since his hospitalization, he was looking healthier than ever. As the night wore on, his energy seemed boundless. As he left, he pointed to the first lady and told a friend, "She says it's time for me to go to bed."
When the evening began, Prime Minister Suzuki's limousine arrived at the north portico of the White House a few minutes behind schedule, and while he waited, Reagan allowed the assembled reporters to involve him in a mini-press conference. It was made somewhat difficult by the fact that the reporters no longer stand on the portico itself, as has been the practice, but on a temporary platform erected on the other side of the driveway. On the portico, the space where reporters customarily stand was occupied by potted geraniums, artistically arranged in a sort of semicircle. The reporters shouted questions at the president, who replied through a microphone that was not working.
Does the president think his proposed tax bite will do as well in Congress as his budget has done? "Well . . ." he said, "I don't know, but I was greatly encouraged."
How did he feel about the margin of the victory? He said he was "surprised."
"How do you think Tip O'Neill is feeling tonight?" someone shouted at him across the driveway.
"Well . . . not too good."
The first lady stood silently beside him, smiling, in a long, scarlet dress with puffed sleeves, a large bow at the waist and wearing a diamond necklace.
The front-porch joviality carried over to the diplomatic entrance where actors Chamberlain, Doulgas Fairbanks Jr., Eastwood, "Shogun" author James Clavell, former television star Audrey Meadows, designer Hanae Mori, several Reagan Cabinet members, and members of Congress were strolling in. Almost all of the 100 plus guests arrived near 7:30 p.m. when Prime Minister Suzuki was scheduled to arrive.
Michael Deaver, the president's deputy cheif of staff, was bustling back and forth with a red folder. When asked what he was carrying, he joked, "It's top secret."
Chamberlain looked pleased when the press broke away from a politician, Rep. Silvio Conte (R-Mass.), to talk to him about Japan. "It's an amazing country. We were there for 6 1/2 months filming 'Shogun.' The Japanese are so utterly different from us," said Chamberlain. "Americans pride themselves on begin straightforward. The Japanese are the opposite. They have been crowded into so small a space for so long that they have incredible politeness."
The approval of the Reagan budget was again a topic. Sen. Jackson commented, "I was not surprised. The only question was the size of the vote." Rep. Conte called it "a great victory for the president's leadership."
Despite the recent voluntary limit on auto exports by the Japanese, some tensions were expected in the official meetings because Prime Minister Suzuki was miffed at not being consulted before the lifting of the Soviet grain embargo. But Treasury Secretary Donald Regan characterized the meetings as "very friendly." Commerce Secretary Malcolm Baldrige said, "I thought the president and the prime minister established a wonderful working relationship. It was clear they both liked each other." Baldridge said the strain over the grain embargo lifting was a thing of the past. "That's been put to bed. The president said the United States looked on Japan as one of its senior allies, and there would be consultations on everything in the future."
When Clavell came in, he emphasized that he thought he was there because of his friendship with Suzuki, not because of his best sellers on the Far East. "He's a wonderful man. He has a very good sense of humor, and he's trying to be very reasonable with us." The Guests
President and Mrs. Reagan
Zenko Suzuki, prime minister of Japan, and Mrs. Suzuki
Masayoshi Ito, minister for foreign affairs
Yoshio Okawara, ambassador of Japan, and Mrs. Okawara
Tsutomu Kawara, deputy chief cabinet secretary
Takechiyo Kimura, member of the House of Representatives
Hajime Ishii, Member of the House of Representatives
Koichi Kato, member of the House of Representatives
Shinichiro Shimoio, member of the House of Councillors
Yasue Katori, deputy minister for foreign affairs
Shinichiro Asao, director-general, North American Affairs Bureau Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Sakutaro Tanino, private secretary to the prime minister
Talzo Watanabe, deputy director-general, Public Information and Cultural Affairs Bureau
David M. Abshire, chairman, Center for Strategic and International Studies of Georgetown University; vice chairman, Youth for Understanding, and Mrs. Abshire
Caroline Leonetti Ahmanson, Los Angeles, Calif.
Richard V. Allen, assistant to the president for national security affairs, and Mrs. Allen
Leonore Annenberg, chief of protocol, and Hon. Walter H. Annenberg
Robert Arthur, Beverly Hills, Calif., and Mrs. Arthur
James A. Baker III, chief of staff and assistant to the president, and Mrs. Baker
Malcolm Baldridge, secretary of commerce, and Mrs. Baldridge
Laurence I. Barrett, Time Inc.
Ruth Braley, sister of Sen. S. I. Hayakawa
Richard Chamberlain, actor, Beverly Hills, Calif.
Peter B. Clark, publisher and president, The Detroit News, and Mrs. Clark
William P. Clark, deputy secretary of state, and Mrs. Clark
A. W. Clausen, president, Bank American Corp., Hillsborough, Calif., And Mrs. Clausen
James Clavell, author, Los Angeles, Calif.
Rep. Silvio O. Conte (R-Mass.), and Mrs. Conte
Michael K. Deaver, deputy cheif of staff and assistant to the president, and Mrs. Deaver
Clint Eastwood, actor, Burbank, Calif.
Dr. Leo Esaki, 1973 Nobel Prize winner in physics
Douglas Fairbanks Jr., actor, New York City, and Mrs. Fairbanks
Alexander M. Haig, secretary of state, and Mrs. Haig
Sen. S. I. Hayakawa, (R-Calif.)
Mrs. Edwin Hilson, New York City
James D. Hodgson, former ambassador, Beverly Hills, Calif., and Mrs. Hodgson
John Holdridge, assistant secretary of state for East Asia and Pacific Affairs, and Mrs. Holdridge
Rep. Carroll Hubbard Jr. (D-Ky.), and Mrs. Hubbard
Dr. Benjamin Ichinose, Hillsboro, Calif., and Mrs. Ichinose
Anna Maria Jackson, daughter of Sen. Harry Jackson
Sen. Henry M. Jackson (D-Wash.)
U. Alexis Johnson, former ambassador, Washington, D.C.
Earle M. Jorgensen, Los Angeles, Calif., and Mrs. Jorgensen
Rep. Delbert L. Latta (R-Ohio)
Dr. Sherman E. Lee, director, The Cleveland Museum of Art, and Mrs. Lee
Louis LoMonaco and Shirley Verrett LoMonaco, opera singer, New York City
Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.), and Mrs. Lugar
Mrs. Douglas MacArthur II, wife of former ambassador, Washington D.C.
Michael J. Mansfield, American ambassador to Japan, and Mrs. Mansfield
Sen. Spark M. Matsunaga (D-Hawaii), and Mrs. Matsunaga
Edwin Meese III, chief counsel to the president, and Mrs. Meese
Ken Mori and Hanae Mori, designer, New York City
Ray Pfautch, St. Louis, Mo.
Donnie Radcliffe, The Washington Post
Myer Rashish, under secretary of state for economic affairs, and Mrs. Rashish
Donald Regan, secretary of the treasury, and Mrs. Regan
S. dillion Ripley, secretary, Smithsonian Institution, and Mrs. Ripley
Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, III, member, The Asia Society, New York City
Issac Shapiro, New York City, and Mrs. Shapiro
Robert F. Six, chairman, Continental Airlines Inc., Los Angeles, and Mrs. Six
Walter J. Stoessel Jr., under secretary for political affairs, and Mrs. Stoessel
Geraldine Stuz, president, Henri Bendel Inc., New York City
Dr. Jokichi Takamine, West Los Angeles, Calif.
Dr. Robert Ward, chairman, Japan-United States Friendship Commission, Stanford, Calif., and Mrs. Ward
Caspar Weinberger, secretary of defense, and Mrs. Weinberger
Cornelius Vanderbuilt Whitney, president, Whitney Industries Inc., New York City, and Mrs. Whitney
Rep. Jamie L. Whitten (D-Miss.), and Mrs. Whitten
Warren George Wilson, accompanist for Shirley Verrett
Donald M. Kendall, chairman, Pepsico, Inc., Purchase, N.Y., and Mrs. Kendall CAPTION:
The Reagans with Prime Minister and Mrs. Zenko Suzuki; by John McDonnell -- The Washington Post