The BBC reports that thirty years ago, the British government turned down a Japanese offer to provide a security detail of 20 “karate ladies” to then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on the occasion of her June 1979 visit to Tokyo.
A few juicy excerpts from the newly released letter:
Sir John said that Mrs Thatcher will attend the summit as prime minister and not as a woman per se and he was sure that she would not want these ladies; press reaction in particular would be unacceptable.
The prime minister would like to be treated in exactly the same manner as the other visiting Heads of Delegation . . . If other delegation leaders, for example are each being assigned 20 karate gentlemen, the Prime Minister would have no objection to this; but she does not wish to be singled out.
Now if the proposed escort had been staffed with sword-wielding kendo enthusiasts clad in armour, perhaps Mrs. Thatcher would have been persuaded to reconsider.
Source: “Japan planned ‘karate ladies’ escort for Thatcher” (BBC News)