An exclusive Ojai country club will be the site this weekend of an international conference that is expected to draw three former leaders of the United States and Japan.
Former Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, and 30 other political and business leaders are scheduled to participate in the closed-door inaugural meeting of the U.S.-Japan Leadership Council at the Ojai Valley Inn and Country Club.
"The U.S.-Japanese relationship is of utmost importance and, though it has been good over the years, the image is that it has been confrontational," said Jon Strom, the council's program coordinator. "What we're trying to do is create a new level to the relationship and overcome the regular day-to-day type of negotiating."
The council was the brainchild of Robert McFarlane, the national security adviser to former President Ronald Reagan who pleaded guilty to four misdemeanors stemming from the Iran-Contra scandal. Strom said McFarlane continues to command considerable respect in the international community, as indicated by the caliber of participants in the first of the council's biannual meetings.
Talks will center primarily on "mutual security" of the two nations, Strom said, including discussion of the Middle East crisis, world economic conditions and the easing of Cold War tensions.
The 216-room Ojai Valley Inn is located on a 220-acre complex that includes an 18-hole golf course.