WORLD REACTIONS TO IRAN-CONTRA HEARINGS: EUROPE, CHINA, JAPAN. Ollie who? Japan is preoccupied with its own scandal

``Have you ever heard of a man called North?'' the Japanese yuppie was asked. ``Oh, sure,'' he replied, ``Andy North is a professional golfer.''

And Oliver North? Sorry, no, he didn't know the name.

Compared to the days of Watergate, the US Congress's Iran-contra hearings not getting much exposure in the news media here. This is partly because journalists and officials are preoccupied with Japan's own scandal - the Toshiba affair, in which a subsidiary of one of the country's industrial giants confessed to having supplied Moscow the technology to make its submarines disquietingly quiet.

An equally important reason for the low-key coverage is that, for the Japanese, the Iran-contra hearings simply lack the drama of Watergate. Many Japanese viewed Watergate as an example of a media David confronting a White House Goliath. But they find the whole Iran arms-for-hostages deal confusing.

``Of course some of us are concerned,'' a newspaper editor says. ``We worry whether this whole affair will reduce the Reagan administration's ability to conduct a confident, coherent foreign policy at a crucial time in East-West relations. But that kind of concern doesn't touch the general public.''

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.