White House national security adviser Richard V. Allen said yesterday he violated no regulations in accepting two watches from the Japanese journalists who also handed Allen a $1,000 thank-you fee for an interview they had with Nancy Reagan.
Allen said he took the watches before he became a government official last Jan. 20, contradicting the statement of one of the Japanese women, but maintained that he could also have properly received such gifts after the inauguration because they were "personal gifts."
Allen's written statement yesterday did not give the exact dates on which he received the watches, nor did it take into account that before the inauguration he was an official of the Reagan-Bush transition team.
The guidelines for officials of the transition team that was headed by Edwin Meese III, now the president's counselor, made no exception for personal gifts.
"A transition participant shall not, in connection with his transition activities receive or solicit from persons in, or having business with, any agency or department he is dealing with on transition matters, anything of value as a gift, gratuity, loan or favor for himself, his clients or persons with whom he has family, business or financial ties," the guidelines state.
Allen's account contradicts that of Fuyuko Kamisaka, the author of the interview with Nancy Reagan that appeared in Shufu no Tomo (Housewife's Companion).
Kamisaka told reporters in Tokyo that a gold-colored watch was given to Allen Jan. 16 and that on Jan 21, after the interview, Allen was asked whether he liked the gold or would prefer a silver-colored one. Both were Seiko quartz watches worth about $170 apiece.
Allen replied that he was happy with the gold one, but would like the silver one also as a gift for another unidentified person, according to Kamisaka.
Allen said in yesterday's one-page statement that both watches were accepted "as a personal gift for my wife from a friend of many years' standing, as was the case with other gifts exchanged between our families over a period of some 15 years."
He did not name the longtime friend, Chizuko Takase, the wife of a man with whom Allen has had a long business and social relationship. Takase acted as the interpreter during the interview with Nancy Reagan.
Allen's statement yesterday, like those of the past three days, was written by him in response to questions that are being put to the White House press office by reporters.
The beleaguered national security adviser has ignored some questions.
One that he has chosen not to answer is why he did not send Shufu no Tomo a receipt for the $1,000 that he says he put in a safe and forgot for eight months. Kamisaka has said she expected to receive a receipt. It is a Japanese magazine custom to offer a gratuity for an interview, but to get a receipt to show that the money was spent on a legitimate business expense.
Kamisaka has said she expected that the $1,000 in cash would be turned over to one of Mrs. Reagan's charities. "I wrote in the article that the money would be the first contribution to Mrs. Reagan's charity program, and as a writer, I owe a responsibility to the readers for what I wrote," she said.
"The whole affair is an internal affair of the White House, and they should not entangle innocent magazine publishers and writers who have nothing to do with U.S. domestic politics," she told the Associated Press.
Meanwhile, National Security Council officials and staff members contacted yesterday expressed surprise at the latest disclosure about the watches. "I wouldn't even take a hamburger from someone," said one official. "I guess I've been living in a dream world."
Most NSC staffers reached in the past week said they knew nothing of the mid-September discovery of the cash-filled envelope in a safe used by Allen in a third-floor office of the Executive Office Building. One military official who had been using the office said that the FBI had not interviewed him.
Another senior official and Allen loyalist acknowledged that "there are a lot of questionable things about the whole episode." This official noted that the revelations had taken on a daily character that appeared to him to be unfairly damaging to Allen, who has said that he is under instructions not to answer questions until the FBI and Justice Department complete their investigation and review under the special prosecutor guidelines of the Ethics in Government Act.
Meanwhile, White House political director Lyn Nofziger said: "I think Dick Allen is an honorable, decent man. Unless someone can prove wrongdoing, I think he'll stay." Nofziger told the Cable News Network that President Reagan has not made a final decision on Allen yet. "The president is . . . not going to react quickly," he said.