Tag Archives: U.S. President

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.

Recent news of Americans in Japan

10 Oct

First of all, today is the beginning of a three-day-weekend in Japan.
Monday is 「体育の日」 (Sports Day).

Until a few years ago, this holiday was on October 10th (today), and if that day fell on a Saturday (like it is this year), the day off would be “lost”. (If the 10th was a Sunday, it would be observed on the following day, though).

But now the holiday is the second Monday of October…so it’s always a three-day-weekend.
(Click here to read my short FAQ about this holiday).

Anyways, here are few recent Japan-related news items that involve Americans:

  • Japanese Prime Minister Hatoyama sent his congratulations to U.S. President Obama for receiving a Nobel Peace Prize, saying in part that he was pleased by Obama’s call for a nuclear-free world and that it must be difficult for the leader of the nation with the most nuclear weapons in the world to make such a statement.

    Japanese survivors of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki also expressed their happiness by Obama’s plan to rid the world of nuclear arms and their support of his Nobel Prize.
    They also reiterated their invitation for him to visit their cities.

  • U.S. President Obama is scheduled to make his first official visit to Japan on (2009) November 12 – 13.
  • An American man was arrested for bringing a handgun into Japan on a flight from America.
    His gun was found by Japanese airport customs officers when he passed through customs at Narita Airport near Tokyo trying to transit to a flight to Thailand.

    It is unclear how he managed to get the gun through U.S. customs at the Dallas / Ft. Worth Airport, where he boarded the plane for Japan.

  • Another American man is in Japanese prison for attempting to kidnap his children from his Japanese ex-wife and bring them back to America.He divorced his Japanese wife in America and the U.S. courts gave him custody of their two young children.

    But his ex-wife (the children’s mother) took the kids to Japan on “holiday” and never returned. So there is an arrest-warrant for her in America…that can only be enforced if she steps foot on U.S. soil again (which is unlikely).
    The Japanese courts, though, granted her full-custody of the children and when their father came to Japan to take the kids back, he was arrested.

    This case shows one of the many differences between American and Japanese culture.
    In America, when parents divorce it is common for both parents to “share” custody.
    But that’s extremely uncommon in Japan. The divorce-rate is still very low in Japan…but it is climbing. And when parents divorce here it is felt that it’s in the children’s best interest to try to keep life as stable as possible by having the father (usually) simply move on and keep out of their lives.

Have you heard about any of these cases? What’s your opinion?

Leaders first meeting

26 Sep

Japan’s new Prime Minister, Yukio Hatoyama, went to New York yesterday and had his first meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama.

Japan Prime Minister Hatoyama and U.S. President Obama

Japan Prime Minister Hatoyama and U.S. President Obama

For the U.S., the issue of Japan continued help with the “War On Terrorism” is of top concern.
For Japan, it’s the issue of reducing the number of the U.S. military stationed in Japan…and abolishing nuclear weapons in the world.

But for this first meeting, the only major issue raised was about ridding the world of nuclear weapons.
Both Hatoyama and Obama said that they’d like to see an end to the nuclear threat in the world.

As the only country that has ever been attacked by nuclear weapons, this issue is important to Japan.
Prime Minister Hatoyama reiterated Japan’s stance that all nuclear weapons should be abolished and invited the the American president to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki when he comes to Tokyo next November.

No U.S. President has ever visited Hiroshima or Nagasaki .

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.

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アメリカ合衆国大統領オバマ

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).

45 Years Ago…

24 Nov

Forty-five years ago last Saturday, on Friday 22 November 1963, the U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
And forty-five years ago today, on 24 November 1963, the man who was arrested for assassinating President Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald, was killed by Jack Ruby.

jfk1

This happened before I was born (my parents were only 14 years old at the time), so of course I have no memory of it…but I’ve heard that people who were alive can still remember exactly where they were when they heard that JFK was assassinated. Kinda like the September 11 attacks of 2001 (Speaking of which, Click here to read my Sept 11 post).

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Anyways, yesterday we went to a キク祭 (Chrysanthemum Festival). The キク (Chrysanthemum) is the official flower of Japan’s royal family. In fact, the 皇位 (Japanese Imperial Family) is often referred to as the “Chrysanthemum Throne“.

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After that, we went where my kids really wanted to go: shopping. They’re girls, so that’s their hobby! :)

We took the train to a store that was having a big sale. My wife and daughters shopped, while I waited outside with a coffee and a newspaper.

Anyways, here’s a common sight on the platforms of train stations in Japan…the KIOSK that sells newspapers, magazines, snacks, gum, candy, bread, beer, juice, cigarettes, hand towels, neckties, etc:

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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.

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