January 21, 2009

Obama news in Japan

As the clock struck 1:00 am, the inauguration ceremony for the 44th President of the United States of America was broadcast here in Japan too.  
I was impressed with the accuracy of the  simultaneous interpreting.  However, it became obvious that the script was handed out in was way too good to have been done simultaneously...either that or I am an extremely jealous, it was waaaaay too good!

Media is the same anywhere...the Japanese were waiting for soundbites that could be used from President Obama's speech.  Despite the lack of a repeated word or phrase, the overall evaluation in the media seems to be good.  Every news show this morning has their own panel of "specialists" on America with tidbits on the Obama family vacation in Hawaii, the Bible used for the oath, info about the beautiful yellow dress/coat that the First Lady was wearing and of course speculations on how the Obama presidency will want to interact with the Japanese. ex)Will the Japanese have to send troops somewhere?  How much money will have to be "donated" to various causes? Will there be any "demands"? or will this be the beginning of a true friendship where we can all come to the table as equals and not the conquerer and conquered? etc...

The look on things is pretty light.  There will always be a few "specialists" who will try to keep everyone cautious of the American intent but most are optimistic due to the choice of staff President Obama has so far made.  I think more people were hoping that the inauguration would lead to higher scores in the stock market...which makes me very confused.  Why should stock for a company go up because of what someone says anyways?  I guess the questions is, am I supposed to understand this?  OK, back to something I do understand...Japan.

There are several cities in Japan that have the name Obama.  Just for that reason, these cities have been great big Barack Obama fans from the get go.  They have been using their 15 minutes of fame to get on TV and introduce their cities to the general public here...some of it is really embarrassing to watch
but this is Japan, and they love to play around with words here, no disrespect is intended.
The fad will soon fade out just like everything else...this is the land where everything is evanescent at birth.  It must have something to do with zen.

So, congratulations to the President and the First Family.  You have lots of friends here in Asia who are waiting to help America make the world a better place.  This is the land of the  "mottainai" philosophy ...the art of living eco in Japan!  I'll be explaining "mottainai" on another day!

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