Tag Archives: Prime Minister

Cherry Blossom Queens

29 May

Did you know that there are Japanese 桜 (cherry blossom) trees in Washington DC?
And that they have an annual Japanese-style cherry blossom festival when the flowers bloom in the spring?

And did you know that those trees were a gift to America from Japan about sixty years ago?

Well…did you know that both Japan and America crown a Cherry Blossom Queen every year?
It isn’t a beauty contest type of competition. Each state in America and each prefecture in Japan enters a young woman into the competition based on community service that she has done.

And then the country’s Cherry Blossom Queen is chosen by a random draw.

Every year the U.S. Cherry Blossom Queen comes to Japan and meets the Japanese Prime Minister along with the current Japanese Cherry Blossom Queen.

Last year, the 2012 U.S. Cherry Blossom Queen was an African-American woman for the first time.
She made headlines in Japan!

The 2013 U.S. Cherry Blossom Queen, Mary Anne Morgan, just came to Tokyo and met Japanese Prime Minister Abe and 2013 Japanese Cherry Blossom Queen, Chiori Kobayashi yesterday.

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.

Yes, We Kan

10 Jun

Of course mostly everyone around the world knows U.S. President Barack Obama’s “Yes, We Can!” catchphrase from when he was campaigning to get elected.

Also I wrote a post a few days ago the Japan got a new Prime Minister. His name is Naoto Kan.

(Click here to read the post.)

Now a T-shirt company in Japan called “Club T” is offering T-shirts that use the Japanese Prime Minister’s name in a word play with President Obama’s famous phrase.

The T-shirts say “Yes, We Kan“.They also sell sweatshirts, coffee mugs, cell-phone cases, etc with the same image.

It should be noted that Prime Minister Kan doesn’t use U.S. President Obama’s catch-phrase nor does he endorse these products.

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.

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

On the TV

31 Aug

At the moment, all that is on the TV in Japan is either the 台風 (typhoon) that is hitting the Tokyo area today, and the national election results.

Tokyo is in the path of the approaching typhoon.

Tokyo is in the path of the approaching typhoon.

Be careful if you’re on the east coast of Japan and you have to go out today.
The weather will be bad all day today, but it’s forecast to be nice tomorrow (normally, after a typhoon passes the sky is very clear).

Regarding Japan’s election today, the results are still not all in yet, but it’s winding down and the 民主党 (Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ)) is winning in a landslide.
This is an upset victory because the 自由民主党 (Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)) has won nearly every national election in Japan since the end of WWII. The current Japanese Prime Minister (Taro Asou) is the president of the LDP.

The next Prime Minister of Japan will more than likely be 鳩山由紀夫 (Yukio Hatoyama).

鳩山由紀夫 (Yuki Hatoyama)

鳩山由紀夫 (Yuki Hatoyama)

U.S. Election

5 Nov

As everyone around the world knows, the 2008 U.S. Presidental election is over and Barack Obama will take office as the President of the United States in January 2009.

Just as many world leaders did, the Prime Minister of Japan offered his congratulations to Obama:

I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to Senator Obama on his election as president of the United States of America.

Working together with President-elect Obama, I will strive to further strengthen the Japan-U.S. alliance and to resolve various challenges the international community faces when addressing issues such as the international economy, terrorism and the environment…

内閣総理大臣麻生太郎 (Tarou Asou, Prime Minister of Japan)

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Also, as I said in this post, the Japanese city of 小浜 (Obama) has supported Barack Obama ever since he became a candidate for the U.S. presidency. They sent him gifts (and they received a reply letter from his office with a couple words written in 日本語 (Japanese)).

The city of Obama has “Obama hula dancers” and souvenirs with Barack Obama’s image on them.

They’re considering making Barack Obama an honorary citizen of the town.

Of course, the reason for all of this is because Obama is a small town in western Japan that was losing money and the town’s mayor saw an opportunity to attract tourists…and it’s working. Suddenly the town is getting many visitors…some of them from overseas.

The tourism campaign is called “Obama For Obama“.

The mayor anticipates the town of Obama will become a world-famous vacation destination now that Barack Obama won the election.

The “Obama Hula Dancers” hope to perform at Barack Obama’s inauguration in January, by the way.

Some news

24 Sep
  • Air India flight 307 left 成田空港 (Narita Airport in Chiba (near Tokyo)) for India on Sunday, 21 September 2008 but had to return to Narita because parts of the engine fell off…and struck two parked cars near the airport.One piece of debris sliced through the wind-shield of a car like butter. Luckily noone was hurt.
  • The American Navy’s nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, U.S.S. George Washington, is scheduled to arrive in Japan tomorrow to commence being homeported in 横須賀 (Yokosuka (south of Tokyo)).A large number of protesters are expected to greet the ship because many Japanese are against having a nuclear-powered or nuclear-armed ship even visit Japan, not to mention being stationed here.

  • On Monday, 22 September 2008 (two days after his 68th birthday), 麻生太郎 (Tarou ASOU) was chosen to be the new Prime Minister of Japan.

    (My post about the former Prime Minister, 福田康夫 (Yasuo FUKUDA), resigning on Sept 1st is here).

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.

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