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Abe says Obama just wanted to talk trade at sushi dinner

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Omg...that Obama is just such a party pooper isnt he, - a politician who doesn't waste time but actually gets down and talks business instead of just enjoying the food, drink ceremonies and " making small talk " on his overseas trips. What a nightmare image for the Japanese politicians that must be. Heaven forbid they should ever have to do the same instead of just enjoying the perks.

17 ( +22 / -4 )

Of course it was about business; it had to be given the short stay in Japan. Every opportunity needed to be fully utilized to get by the TPP impasse and to cover other major topics. It was naive of Abe to think that bonding was on Obama's agenda. But then again, Abe is all about show, and photo ops anyways.

16 ( +20 / -4 )

I heard that Obama was looked down on for not eating all the 20 pieces of sushi. I asked my students and they said they probably couldn't eat 20 pieces of sushi, even if it was from Jiro's. Obama is not Japanese... and I guess he isn't used to kaiten sushi...

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Japanese politicians are a joke.

13 ( +19 / -7 )

In the end, who cares. This trip wasn't a vacation to enjoy and party on, this trip was about discussing mostly about trade and the reinsure the commitment and promise that the U.S. will defend all Japan territories. That's what counts, not the amount of Sushi he ate, but the media wants to take the focus of these important talks and keep the focus on the him not eating his food and not bonding long enough? If Japanese politicians would make REAL business a top priority over bonding, eating and drinking as the major part of talks, they might actually make strides and implement REAL change in society.

16 ( +20 / -4 )

bass4funk,Well said!

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Yeah, he did not want to talk about your love of besuboru or how good your Engrish is. Sorry.

1 ( +8 / -7 )

Mr Abe: Welcome to the 21st century.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Its bad etiquette. You don't talk business during dinner. Obama is rushing the TPP because its going to be elction soon and he needs something to show for his trip but it is not the Japanese way nor the way of some countries in the world. Respect the culture. Business talk is done after the pep talks when people are more relaxed and are willing to make concessions. Dumb president.

-12 ( +10 / -22 )

@mh: Japan is breaking its a$$ to be 'global' and more 'international'. This is one way to achieve that. Bet that Mr A is peeved cause he had to move of his prepared script. Welcome to the 21st century.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

“This was a terrible, egregious violation of human rights. Those women were violated in ways that, even in the midst of war were shocking,”

Obama was honest and frank with Abe from the very begining, but he underestimated Abe’s shrewdness and slyness.

There are a couple of reason that Obama wanted to get down to the nitty gritty with Abe ASAP.

To begin with, TPP was envisioned by Whitehouse to draw China’s rivals and its adversaries closer to the US so that Obama’s Asia Pivot has the economic leg to contain Chian’s expansion, yet Japan is the one, apparently, becoming the stone wall hindering Obama’s plan and wasting the valuable time. On top of that, Obama knows what kind of person Abe is based on the past history that Whitehouse has dealt with him before. Obama hoped that he could persuade Abe to use the time available and finish up the deal during his state visit ( Japan spent two months to convince the Whitehouse to have a state visit, leading Obama to believe for a high probability to seal deal.)

Obama is not stupid and he did try. He might have a hunch that Abe may play him for Abe’s political advantage in his home court. (Obama is correct on that account). Although Obama’s Asia trip was marred by unfinished TPP, he and Americans learned a precious lesson.

There is popular idiom in America: “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me

0 ( +4 / -4 )

So Obama said, I am really weak and unpopular at home with barely 40% approval, 60% disapproval --- and you, PM Abe are very popular by comparison...... well, at least on that part, Obama was quite correct. If thats really a good method of persuation to get Abe to start doing unpopular things as well, ummm, that doesnt sound like leadership, that sounds like the swan song of a lemming. Come this way, "concede" to me really unpopular measures, as I have. Oy, ve.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Its bad etiquette. You don't talk business during dinner. Obama is rushing the TPP because its going to be elction soon and he needs something to show for his trip but it is not the Japanese way nor the way of some countries in the world. Respect the culture. Business talk is done after the pep talks when people are more relaxed and are willing to make concessions. Dumb president.

Please, you don't actually believe this story, do you? And how did the Nikkei Press get this information - I don't believe a reporter was sitting next to the Pres and PM. This is just another symptom of the pro and anti US factional war going on in the LDP's right wing - the pro US faction stressing the Alliance and TPP and the anti-US faction siding with the agricultural lobby and virulently against the TPP.

Expect to see more examples of this war as the TPP moves forward.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

they are keeping it secret before a local election on Sunday

This little line, from the article above, says it all.

If TPP is any good, why do these negotiations have to be conducted in secrecy?

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

If Japanese politicians would make REAL business a top priority over bonding, eating and drinking as the major part of talks, they might actually make strides and implement REAL change in society.

bass4funk -- exactly. In fact the exact same can be said about Japanese business as well.

Its bad etiquette. You don't talk business during dinner. Obama is rushing the TPP because its going to be elction soon and he needs something to show for his trip but it is not the Japanese way nor the way of some countries in the world. Respect the culture. Business talk is done after the pep talks when people are more relaxed and are willing to make concessions. Dumb president.

mikihouse -- is that the culture of Japan Inc. on display every weeknight in thousands of restaurants around Japan? Who are you kidding? Most Japanese "business" gets discussed in social situations. Meetings are just for show, and to inform everyone of the decisions made the previous night. Pardon me, but I don't think the Prsident was dumb at all. He was actually doing it "the Japanese way".

4 ( +7 / -3 )

I can imagine what Mr A had prepared.

He wanted to discuss baseball, favourite movie, fav food, manga, cherry blossoms, fav flower, railway technology, McD summer menu.

Yawn. Yawn.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

If TPP is any good, why do these negotiations have to be conducted in secrecy?

Finish the sentence you quoted.

in a Japanese farming region.

They're probably keeping it secret because it isn't good news for the farmers, which means it's GOOD news for everybody else in Japan.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Jay Que

I thought so too. That's like Obama saying, "Abe-san, I can help you quickly turn your 60% approval rating into 40% like mine"!

1 ( +3 / -2 )

This is how we do things, power lunch M-Th. Maybe a power brunch on Fri. Or in a more formal setting, a formal dinner to do more trade talk of any kind.

We don't have the hostess club scene for the Japanese style trade talk. We do have the private social club scene or a private golf outing if the talks are getting more serious.

If Abe doesn't understand this or have done enough research to understand the way Americans do business, then he's already losing half the battle.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Call me crazy, but Japan could do with a little more of its politicians getting down to "just work". The ruling class here has been painfully silent and absent on most of the economic challenges of this era.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Business before pleasure.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

"The revelation came as a report said, instead of making small talk and savoring Japanese delicacies at Sukiyabashi Jiro—dubbed the world’s best sushi restaurant and the subject of the 2011 documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”—Obama jumped straight into discussions about trade."

Oh my lord! A politician who wants to negotiate and get straight to the agenda instead of praising Japan and Japanese self-proclaimed delicacies (the sushi-police must be stomping their jack-boots in fury!) and engaging in pleasure before business! Excuse me, but aren't all the wacky Japanese karaoke parties and izakaya binges AFTER business is through? and don't Japanese businesses deride companies in South America and the like for wanting to socialize BEFORE business is done?

The fact that the media demands Obama eat more than 12 pieces of "the world's top (according to Japan) sushi" and make small talk and praise the chef, etc., instead of getting down to business shows a lot about the absolute insecurity of said media and anyone who takes issue with Obama not eating all his "world-class sushi" first.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

“Your approval rating is 60%. Mine is 40%. I want you with strong support to make compromises,” Obama told Abe

This line sticks out most for me. Obama's approach isn't, "This is good for your country and mine.", or "Do this to help your people", or even, "This will reduce tensions with China".

Instead its all about, "Your approval rating is high right now, so you can afford to make decisions that aren't in your peoples' interests".

This offers a real insight into how politicians think. They don't think about the common good, they treat us badly when they're popular and well when they're unpopular.

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

Frungy: Keep in mind this is what was reported by the Japanese media. That also means it was translated into Japanese, then retranslated into English. I doubt VERY much it was said like that, and given the propensity to infer meaning, my guess is there is obvious bias involved.

In any case, this whole focus on sushi is a joke, and even funnier that people take insult about it. Maybe Obama just does not really like sushi on top of wanting to get down to business. I could tie a ribbon on a piece of poop from the greatest dog in the nation but if you didn't want to eat it I shouldn't take it as insult (and I'm not suggesting sushi is poop... I love sushi).

-2 ( +6 / -8 )

I can look at this from two points. Point 1 would be supporting the Japanese culture side of things, to eat, rest, and get to know someone until you make serious trade agreements, and Point 2 would be supporting the US culture, of work before rest. I still think that the U.S president should show some more respect to other cultures, had it been the leader of a strong Arabic country, he would have respected the dinner more I feel.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

smithinjapanApr. 27, 2014 - 10:53AM JST Frungy: Keep in mind this is what was reported by the Japanese media. That also means it was translated into Japanese, then retranslated into English. I doubt VERY much it was said like that, and given the propensity to infer meaning, my guess is there is obvious bias involved.

Even with the most inept translation there's a limit to how commenting on someone's higher approval rating can be interpreted in any other way than, "Look man, you're got some spare approval. Screw over your citizens for me.".

This is the real world of professional politicians, where their focus is on getting re-elected (or in the case of Obama, keeping his party in power).

“A professional politician is a professionally dishonourable man. In order to get anywhere near high office he has to make so many compromises and submit to so many humiliations that he becomes indistinguishable from a streetwalker.”

Henry Louis Mencken
-3 ( +5 / -8 )

You lost me at "minimum US auto imports for Japan".

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Obama so desperate to get TPP he talks and talks and only eats half the meal ... and so he goes home with no deal.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

If Abe expects the U.S. to go to thermonuclear world-war to defend Japan against the ghost of Mao Zedong, he should make strong trade concessions to the U.S. Too, maintaining weapons of mass destruction is damned expensive--something Japan's taxpayers don't have to worry about.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Frungy: "Even with the most inept translation..."

You would think so, but look at how often Japanese politicians make insane comments about favoring Nazis or what have you and then say they were "misinterpreted" even in their own language, and then have to retract the statements? There is no proof that what is reported as being said is factual.

You watch... if this makes waves overseas for some reason and Obama decries the media for changing what he said, you'll see backtracks and apologies (save for right-wing weeklies) and that the Japanese media was "misunderstood".

1 ( +4 / -3 )

For bonding? Why 8 Japanese PMs in ten years. Why would Obama want to bond? Obama will be in the history books. For better or for worse. Abe, whether he did/does a good job will just be forgotten in hype massive lists of Japanese PMs that step done for one meaningless reason or another.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Gee abe did not say “It was all about work,” he only said he talked about work a lot. Seriously this irresponsible reporter must b either didn't pay enough attention or wanted to give twisted impression by exaggerating to make article to crave attention.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Japanese politician needs to wake up to face the 21st century realities.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Please! When East Asia tensions are this high and the leaders of the US and Japan meet, the priority of discussions is "business." "Bonding" and "enjoying sushi" ought to be somewhere (way?) behind TPP, China and North Korea.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

let make it clear the TPP will be BAD for Japanese farmers, because it will force them to become more productive while selling there products at prices that are competitive. J manufacturers will benifit the most as they will be able to sell there goods at lower prices overseas. J farmers the 2% of the population and 1% of the economy will have to wake up and stop holding the rest of the country to ransom.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Obama came to Japan on a business trip and not to socialize. If Abe cannot understand the importance of resolving this multi-national agreement then he should not be PM of Japan.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Perhaps the President just found Abe morbidly boring? With such limited time, it is in Obamas interest to get down to business, so good on him.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

I've heard Jiro isn't much for chatting with guests so Obama did right by filling in the silent moments.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

smithinjapanApr. 27, 2014 - 12:49PM JST You would think so, but look at how often Japanese politicians make insane comments about favoring Nazis or what have you and then say they were "misinterpreted" even in their own language, and then have to retract the statements? There is no proof that what is reported as being said is factual.

... Well, since journalists typically carry dictaphones and other recording equipment I tend to favor the reporter over the professional liar... I mean politician, who is trying to walk backwards through sand.

You watch... if this makes waves overseas for some reason and Obama decries the media for changing what he said, you'll see backtracks and apologies (save for right-wing weeklies) and that the Japanese media was "misunderstood".

I have no doubt that you're correct, but one shouldn't confuse the denials for Obama not having said that. That seems to be where we disagree.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Abe will just do and say anything to save self embarrassment. There was no talk or discussion. Obama simply told him into his face that he didn't like Abe's antics and to quit it. And, that applies also to Abe's troop of monkeys.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

DeDe Miura says above that Obama didn't eat all his sushi. It was reported elsewhere that Obama ate sushi in his hotel sushi shop before going to the Ginza for Abe's sushi treat. Seems as if being a Hawaiian, Obama has learned the good taste of sushi ... and guess he couldn't resist having a sushi snack before having a sushi meal with Abe.

As for what they discussed, guess Obama felt the TPP was the only topic they had in common between them at the time ...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Isn't this what taxpayers paid for these dinners for these politicians to do?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It's not Obama that had resigned from a PM job due to an indigestion.

being a Hawaiian, Obama has learned the good taste of sushi

Everybody, even a Hawaiian is entitled to decide what tastes good for him and what/when/how much he eats. At least, he shows up at work the next day.

Most Japanese "business" gets discussed in social situations

Which means on the phone, with the other hand on a calculator, with in view the list of offers from 20 other possible partners from South-Africa, Argentine, China. Unless for you, "business" is about getting your old school to get your nephew some amakudari deal, which doesn't bring any added value, but was perfect when money was flowing naturally in Galapagos Japan. So wake up, it's 21st century. Look at the few Japanese companies are are not on their deathbed. They do business how ? By selling their stuff, and not only in Japan. Except for the yaks in concrete industry, no company is successful thanks to dining and wining old guys. And the same is true for politics, Only Abe believes his shows, Olympics, sushi, fireworks, you name it , can offset structural problems of Japan. I have yet to meet one person that he fools.

urge Abe to make concessions

Talking to the d*nkey. Abe thinks he is a customer that needs to get courted. How can Japan keep such a delusion in the situation they are now ? If Japan doesn't want a deal (TPP or if it's not the ideal treaty -which I think- another one that he should have proposed last year... er I meant years ago), for the US it's "too bad...". And tomorrow, they will start working with other countries, totally forgetting that arrogant island with Abe on it. Now, for Japan losing the US market ... And Abe thinks he can get along with Korea and China, so he can stop begging for American military support ?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

As a master sushi chef worked before them, Obama just wanted to get down to business! What!? It sounds like Japan. Abe can't really affect much change by himself anyway (kind of like Obama).

Abe wanted to bond and Obama wanted to deal. Maybe Obama won't want to cut his trip to Japan short the next time he swings by.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I don't think Obama really likes Abe.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Its bad etiquette. You don't talk business during dinner. Obama is rushing the TPP because its going to be elction soon and he needs something to show for his trip but it is not the Japanese way nor the way of some countries in the world. Respect the culture.

Obama is NOT running again, second the election are congressional midterm election, this trip will ultimately have no impact domestically on Obama or the Democrats at home. As far as talk business at the dinner table. Going by what you are saying and the history of how Japanese do business, if I were Obama, I would have pushed the agenda the same way. If had left Abe lead or the typical Japanese way of doing business, the talks probably would have started to take place just shy before he would have had to step on the plane and leave to South Korea. Then the Japanese would have complained that Obama didn't spend enough time or making enough time or is really serious about engaging in serious talks, then the media would have criticized him for that as well. Im NOT a fan of Obama or rather his policies, but the man is definitely NO dummy. He's fully aware of how the Japanese do business and most likely the reason why he didn't want the nice gesture of hospitality to drag on knowing how the Japanese do business and you talk about disrespect? it goes both ways, I didn't see Obama being disrespectful in any way. I think it's disrespectful to leave the President hanging in serious business negotiations. That's bad business etiquette.

Business talk is done after the pep talks when people are more relaxed and are willing to make concessions. Dumb president.

Ahhh, so that explains why business in Japan is so Jurassically slow. If countries all did business like the Japanese then maybe China wouldn't be a superpower and South Korea not far behind. Now who is the real dumb one?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Abe is such a double talker. First, he claims the meeting was "historic" and then he complains about how Obama didn't eat all the sushi and didn't want to become chums with him. TYPICAL J behavior.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Why is Sushi so darn important here? For Mr Obama this was his last face to face but ABE was dodged around the whole evening which must of really annoyed Pres and he stopped eating halfway. Mr Obama wanted a little compromise on lock tight domestic farm market to keep TPP alive... I know domestic farm market is critical but there could of been a tiny compromise to stimulate the whole economy but ABE decided to keep one sector completely protected from any competition. It's obvious now the whole trade deal between the two is pretty much over. It's important for Japan to have strong domestic farm industry but shutting out competition is only going to produce more stagnant economy within which leads to the deflationary problems we have today.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan shouldn't think sushi has universal appeal, and president Obama's time here was very limited; I'm delighted he went straight to trade. Japan has been getting away with murder for decades at Americas expense.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

President Obama has about as much understanding of Japanese civilities, culture and customs as he does economics, foreign policy and health care. Once again he didn't fail to embarrass himself and the United States...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan's cultural sensibilities are what is holding it back from becoming a meaningful economic player. It's time for Japan to get over itself, and learn to be part of the outside world.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

DeDe MiuraApr. 27, 2014 - 07:13AM JST I heard that Obama was looked down on for not eating all the 20 pieces of sushi. I asked my students and they said they probably couldn't eat 20 pieces of sushi, even if it was from Jiro's. Obama is not Japanese... and I guess he isn't used to kaiten sushi...

And you heard that where? Having said that, 20 pieces make a pretty large meal, but roughly ten plates in a kaitensushi (which Jiro's certainly is not, by the way) isn't unusual for a grown man.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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