Tag Archives: President

Obama met Asimo

29 Apr

U.S. President Obama was in Tokyo last week.

He had sushi dinner with Japanese Prime Minister Abё at the world-famous Sukiyabashi-Jiro Sushi in Ginza, Tokyo.

That restaurant in said to be the world’s best sushi … and the most expensive. A twenty-piece set costs ¥30,000 (about U.S.$300 ) .

And he could also meet Honda Corp.’s famous “Asimo” (pronounced “Ah-she-mo”) robot:

Japan is a few (thousand) years older than America

4 Jul

Today is 「アメリカ独立記念日」 (America’s Independence Day).

"Spirit of '76"

America declared independence from England on 1776 July 4…two hundred thirty-five (235) years ago today.

Compared to other countries in the world America is “young”. Japan’s history, for instance, is over 12,000 years old.
America may be a young country, but it still uses the same Constitution that was written in 1776 after gaining independence. America is the only country whose government’s Constitution hasn’t been changed* (*amended, but not changed).

Since I was born, there have been only eight different U.S. presidents…but in the same time there have been twenty-three men to hold the office of Prime Minister of Japan.

Since I came to Japan in 1990, I have seen fourteen Japanese Prime Ministers so far…but America has had only four different Presidents in the same twenty-one years.

Anyways, America’s Independence Day isn’t a holiday in Japan, of course. It’s been many years since I’ve celebrated the “Fourth of July”.
I remember, of course, the fireworks displays…but I’m not sure whether or not it’s a legal holiday (a “day off”) in America. Is it?

Are you American? How do you celebrate the “Fourth of July”?
If you’re not an American, does your country have an “Independence Day”? When is it? How do you celebrate?

The closest holiday in Japan is 「建国記念日」 (“National Founding Day”) on February 11 to celebrate the establishment of Japan as a nation.
It’s a day off from work and school…but there’s not much in the way of any special celebrations on that day.

New Prime Minister

5 Jun

Yukio Hatoyama was the most recent Prime Minister of Japan…but he resigned yesterday due to his inability to keep his campaign promise to have some of the U.S. military bases in Okinawa moved off of the island.

Many people outside of Japan are surprised that he’s quitting for that reason. Politicians often make campaign promises that they’re unable to keep but in Western countries (America, etc), those politicians stay in office for their entire term no matter how unpopular they become.

But in Japanese culture a leader is expected to enforce the will of the people and if he is unable, he should step down to express his regret. Japanese people respect that more than someone who stubbornly refuses to admit his failure.

In the twenty years that I’ve been living in Japan so far, I have seen fourteen different Japanese Prime Minister in office.
But in those same twenty years, only four different men have been President of the United States.

It’s almost certain that Naoto Kan will be Japan’s newest Prime Minister.

Odd news from around the world

19 Apr

Here’s a summary of some unusual news stories that I read on 「毎日新聞」 (“The Mainichi Newspaper“) website:

● Japan’s Prime Minister, Yukio Hatoyama, is in Washington for the “Nuclear Security Summit”.
After Mr. Hatoyama met with U.S. President Barack Obama, the U.S. newspaper wrote an article that described the Japanese prime minister as “loopy”.

The Japanese government said in a news conference that Japan was displeased with the lack of respect and courtesy that the newspaper showed a state leader.

● The New York Society Library, the oldest library in New York, discovered that the first American president, George Washington, borrowed two books from the library and failed to return them.

The books are still listed as checked out by George Washington and overdue since 1789 November 2!

Mr. Washington owes the library over 220 years in late fees!

● A man in America was recently arrested after he got into a quarrel with another guest at a motel he was staying at…and then hit the man in the face with his 1.2 meter (4 feet) python snake.

● In Germany, a meat supplier delivered steaks to a restaurant but was angered when the restaurant manager informed him that the restaurant didn’t have enough cash on hand to pay his €400 (¥50,120 (US$541)) bill.

Rather than wait to be paid later, the meat seller recollected all of the steaks…including the ones that were already cooked and on customer’s plates at their tables.

● Reminiscent of Orsan Welles famous radio show “War Of The Worlds” in which he described an attack on Earth by aliens from the planet Mars in the 1930’s in America that caused mass panic when the public believed the show was actual live news….a newspaper in the country of Jordan printed an “April Fools” joke in their paper on the first of this month.

The paper said that giant aliens from space were attacking their city of Amman in Jordan. It caused mass hysteria.
Even the city’s mayor believed the story. He sent troops to search for the aliens and was considering a citywide evacuation.


Have you heard these news stories? have you heard any other odd or funny news stories recently?

Why is this a problem??

8 Sep

I don’t live in America, and U.S. President Obama’s planned speech to American school students today hasn’t even been mentioned on the news here so far.



But I read about it online a couple of days ago. The first I saw about it was on a site recommending that parents keep their kids out of school on September 8th so that they wouldn’t be “subjected to Obama’s propaganda”.

I searched around the internet at various websites about the subject and even found a transcript of the U.S. President’s planned speech and, even though it appears that this is a very controversial subject in America right now…I don’t understand what the problem is!

It seems that U.S. President Obama plans to tell students to stay in school and study hard.

No matter what you want to do with your life – I guarantee that you’ll need an education to do it.

You want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer or a member of our military? You’re going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You can’t drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You’ve got to work for it and train for it and learn for it…

(excerpt from U.S. President Obama’s planned speech on 2009 Sept 8)

That sounds like perfectly sound advice.

But it seems to be a problem to some Americans.
I saw a news video clip online from an American TV news program that had people debating whether or not children should hear the President’s speech.

As I said, I don’t live in America and therefore I don’t keep up with the current events and the culture there (which has become foreign to me over the years), but it seems that the people who plan to keep their children home from school today didn’t agree with the plan of the U.S. 教育委員会 (Board Of Education) to have the students write how they could “help the President”.
Or something like that.

Also, while I was reading about this online, I saw a news report about a church preacher in the U.S. state of Arizona who told his church to “pray for the death of the president”.

And it seems that a member of his church carried a rifle and a handgun to a speech that U.S. President Obama was giving. And he wasn’t arrested because it’s legal to carry firearms in Arizona!

This is all one of those “only in America” things, I think. 😉

Have you heard about this?
(If you live in America, maybe you could explain a bit about it better).

Letter to Mr. McCain from Mr. Yellin

13 Sep

I usually try to avoid putting anything political or otherwise controversial on my website.
But my friend, Jerry Yellin, asked me to put this message on my site.

As I said, I normally wouldn’t…but for him, I’ll make an exception.

Who’s Jerry Yellin?” you ask? Read my interview with him here.

So, here’s a message from Jerry Yellin to U.S. Presidential candidate John McCain (the words in the message in this post were written by Jerry Yellin as it’s shown below. My personal opinions about politics (American or otherwise) are kept to myself):

Can I vote for a maverick to be the President of the United States?
That is a question I have been asking myself ever since John McCain accepted the nomination from the Republican Party. The only guide that I have to what a Maverick is comes from my experiences as a fighter pilot in WW II.

I graduated from flying school in August 1943 with ten hours in a P-40.
Twenty-three of my classmates and I received orders to report to the 78th Fighter Squadron at Haleiwa on the North shore of Oahu to receive an additional fifty hours of combat tactics, hone our skills and be reassigned to a combat squadron.

We flew off a metal strip laid on the beach. The P-40 was a single engine, single seat front line fighter; there was no dual flight instruction. We practiced maneuvers using our hands to simulate mutual support in elements of two criss-crossing across the sky protecting each other as if in combat. All of us “Yardbirds” flew as wingmen in elements of two in a four plane formation.
“There is no room for individualism in our squadron” we were told every day, “Mavericks will not be tolerated.”
Several of my classmates left the squadron before they flew their 50 hours of combat training. We weren’t told why, but we suspected.
When the time came for reassignment, five of us were kept in the 78th, the rest joined squadrons on other fields in Hawaii, and we became trainers until we went into combat on Iwo Jima in March 1945.

I know what Maverick pilots are, I saw them kill their squadron mates and themselves by their irresponsible egotistical “I am better” attitude and ego.
Here are a few of my experiences with Maverick fighter pilots:

Harold Fish was a Maverick and I couldn’t get him to fly in a proper position below my wing on the outside so he could duck under when we made a turn. He rode high while we were making a steep, fast left turn. When I reversed my turn to the right I was cockpit to cockpit with Fish and had no room to maneuver. We escaped a mid-air collision but both of our planes were damaged. He didn’t kill either of us but he severely injured himself by hooking his wing into the side of a raised runway showing off how close in to the field he could make a high speed landing.

John Lindner was a Maverick. We were diving towards Bellows Field in P-51’s as a prelude to pitching up for a landing approach. I was the element leader; Lindner was on the flight leader’s wing in the #2 slot.
As we started down he left the formation to buzz the field at full throttle approaching 500 miles an hour and pulled the wings off of his plane when he couldn’t handle that speed.

The very word Maverick brings a picture into my mind of the men I knew who were labeled Mavericks. It wasn’t that they couldn’t fly, they could…but not in a cohesive manner that is necessary for successful operations in combat conditions. They were impulsive and made decisions that were
counter to planned operations, often to the determent of the mission or safety of themselves and their comrades. Those traits are synonymous with those of us who have Fighter Pilot Syndrome and are necessary for pilots who fly fighter planes. But they go counter to the big picture and the decision making process of battle.

We are in the midst of a Presidential election that, as always, raises questions about the background and history of the candidates. For example, in 1960 we were asked about the influence religion might have on John Kennedy and his ability to lead the country. Our Rabbi announced in early October of that year that his sermon on the following Friday would be “Can a Jew Vote for A Catholic to be the President of the United States”. Many people wondered whether his being raised as a Catholic would
interfere with his ability to function as our President. Opponents raised doubts about his wartime experience and questioned the heroic stature proclaimed by his supporters.

Now I am being asked to vote for a Maverick to become our president. It is a difficult situation for me, and I imagine for others. John McCain is telling us his experiences as a prisoner of war is one of the attributes that qualify him to be President. That doesn’t cut it for me.

Since he brought up and is using his POW status as qualification for the Presidency I think it is important to hear from him and his squadron-mates about his flying experiences. Mr. McCain’s supporters are telling us that he is a hero because he was shot down in combat. I know he had a
difficult time as a prisoner in Vietnam, all unintended, unwilling prisoners suffer terribly and unnecessarily whether in Manzanita, Tule, Abu Ghrab, Guantanamo or Vietnam; but getting shot down doesn’t qualify anyone for hero status.

So here are a few questions for you Mr. McCain:

Instead of talking about your experiences as a prisoner of war why don’t you tell us about your experiences as a combat pilot?
What was your status in your squadron, your rating reviews?
Were you like Tom Cruise as “Maverick” in the film Top Gun?
If you were a Fleet Commander with the authority to pick your successor would you pick an Ensign over an Admiral?
Would the Navy stand for it?

I want to hear your answers Mr. McCain and I suspect there are others like me in America today who also wants to hear you answer these questions.

I am not negating your combat role in Vietnam, your courage or patriotism but I am questioning your ability to make rational, thought out, intelligent decisions about the welfare of my country. The Mavericks that I knew were hotheads, unbending and always right. I don’t want a Maverick President Mr. McCain.
Only you can answer the questions I have asked in a satisfactory manner. If you want me to consider voting for you to become President of the United States of America, the country I fought for and where sixteen of my fellow squadron fighter pilots died during WWII, you will.

[Jerry Yellin]

Prime Minister

2 Sep

Yesterday, the 内閣総理大臣 (Prime Minister) of Japan, 福田康夫 (Yasuo Fukuda) resigned after only eleven months in office.

If a Japanese Prime Minister feels that he’s not going a good job and holding back the country’s growth, he’ll often step down.

I have lived in Japan since 1990. In that time, Japan has had eleven Prime Ministers. 海部俊樹 (Toshiki Kaifu) was Japan’s Prime Minister when I came to Japan.

Of the 11 Prime Ministers that I’ve seen, some completed their full-term…one (Koizumi) even did three terms. One (Keizou Obuchi) died in office.
But most of them resigned before their term ended.

In contrast, when I came to Japan, George Bush (Sr.) was the アメリカ合衆国大統領 (President of the United States). After him was Clinton’s two terms, then George Bush (Jr.)’s two terms.

Only three Presidents in the same eighteen year period.

Unlike the Japanese Prime Ministers, America’s Presidents finish their full-term without resigning…whether anyone feels he’s doing a good job or not.
I’m sure many people have different opinions about which system is better. I think, though, many people get too emotional about politics…so I’ll keep my opinions private.