politics

Obama city residents delighted over presidential victory

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Residents of the Japanese city of Obama in Fukui Prefecture expressed delight Wednesday over Illinois Sen Barack Obama winning the U.S. presidential election Tuesday. About 200 citizens, U.S. students and Obama supporters gathered at a rally at a culture center in the city on the Sea of Japan coast chanting Obama's name and his slogan, ''Yes, we can.''

''We're pleased our cheerleading has paid off,'' said 47-year-old Yasunori Maeno, a member of a 1,300-person group rooting for Obama to become the next U.S. president. ''We'd really like Mr Obama to visit the city of Obama,'' he said.

Hula dance teams, dubbed the ''Obama Girls'' and ''Obama Boys,'' received loud applause from the audience as they performed.

The Obama Girls were halfway through their routine when the results came in on overhead TVs. Dozens of supporters swarmed the stage and joined hands, jumping up and down as they chanted "Obama! Obama! Obama!"

The Obama campaign brought an air of excitement to this normally sleepy seaside town. Local leaders, trying to revive the economy, latched onto the connection as a way to promote tourism. An "Obama for Obama" supporters group attracted 1,500 members.

"This is great. I followed the election closely on TV. I'm hoping Obama can make the world more peaceful," said Akino Nakaoji, 34, still wearing a bright blue skirt and flowered lei necklace from her hula performance earlier in the day.

It was lunchtime Wednesday in Japan when the U.S. election results came in.

"It was over so fast, I'm glad I got a chance to dance," said Satoru Wada, a 38-year-old male member of the hula squad, before heading back to work at a hotel.

Obama has a population of 32,000, smaller than the crowds the candidate drew at many of his U.S. campaign stops.

While few along its quiet streets could name his policy proposals, his optimism and upbeat message of change resonates well here.

Obama, which means "little beach" in Japanese, is a former fishing town that now relies almost entirely on tourism. More than 500 years old, it boasts several ancient temples and a distinctive hand-painted lacquerware.

But the rustic town, wrapped around a stretch of sandy beach and surrounded by wooded hills, is not well-known, even among Japanese tourists.

So Obama's success has been a welcome boon.

The town has been featured repeatedly in the domestic and international media, and the number of visitors has increased 20% since it linked itself to the Obama campaign, said Shigeyoshi Takeda, who heads the city tourism bureau.

"We've had a lot more customers since the campaign, especially foreigners. We rarely had foreigners here before," said Atsuko Ikeda, 38, the cheery owner of a watering hole on the main shopping street.

Obama's mayor, Kouji Matsuzaki, himself won election with a campaign based on the English word "change." He said he plans to invite Obama to visit Obama, and dispatched a congratulatory telegram to the president-elect.

"We are looking into making him a special honorary citizen," Matsuzaki said.

The mastermind behind the "Obama for Obama" campaign, Seiji Fujiwara, is executive director of one of the town's largest hotels. He said the town has several business leaders with marketing experience that jumped on the opportunity.

"There are other towns named Obama in Japan, but we were the first to react," he said.

Town officials sent gifts and received an official letter from the campaign, signed "Your friend" in Japanese.

Fujiwara said the support group is already planning its future moves. Among them: Go to Washington for the inauguration in January and perform a hula dance.

Meanwhile, in the city of Unzen, Nagasaki Prefecture, some 200 residents and tourists at the Obama hot-spring area waved the U.S. flag and expressed congratulations to Obama on clinching the U.S. presidency.

''Once Mr Obama assumes the presidency, our area will be known in the world,'' said 39-year-old Tetsuyuki Hayashida, a member of Unzen's chamber of commerce and industry.

© Wire reports

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

20 Comments
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OHHH NOOO !!!! There could be a Copyright infringement lawsuit if they use his name or sell his merchandise. Someone needs to make Obama cookies. Please no obama mochi!!!! Obama Fudge cake Obama ice cream. I am waiting for Ben & Jerry's Obama ice cream.

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Ha!!!!!!!!! I hope he moves a base there!!

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‘‘We’re pleased our cheerleading has paid off,’’ said 47-year-old Yasunori Maeno

yes. the outcome rested on your cheerleading.

Hula dance teams, dubbed the ‘‘Obama Girls’’ and ‘‘Obama Boys,’’ received loud applause from the audience as they performed.

well thats not lame is it?

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the caricature they made of Obama for the merchandise is so ugly...

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anything to move some manju

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Maybe some of the non-Japanese street hawkers in Roppongi can move to Obama City, I'm sure they will be welcomed with open arms.

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pathetic attempt to get some attention, do they even know anything about the guy or just his name!

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Maybe Obama has relatives in Japan he does not know about. Kenyan influence on Japan? Or Japanese influence on Kenya?

Anyway, congratulations to Obama city.

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I feel their joy! They were supporting Obama way back from the beginning. Proof that Obama is a global phenomenon!

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Meanwhile, residents of Fukui City, home of Masunaga Optical, maker of Sarah Palin's glasses, are not quite as delighted with Obama's victory.

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What are you waiting for? -Get those ovens warm. We have tourists to feed.

Obama-Change is more difficult than it looks.

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I grew up in a small town in rural New England, and I lived for a number of years in a similarly-sized town in rural Tohoku. Not only using these two towns as barometers, but also other small towns I've been to across America and Japan alike, I've noticed a notable difference in small-town mentalities between the two countries. Small town Americans are generally happy to have their town be off the beaten trail, and appreciate it as a refuge from the noise and activity of metropolitan areas. Told that one has never heard of his small town, the small-town American is likely to say something like "we like to keep it that way." Small-town Japanese seem to have an inferiority complex vis-a-vis their big-city brethren, and put significant effort to talk their town up bigger than it actually is. "Naninani-machi town is very famous for pickled eggplants- VERY FAMOUS!" It seems nearly every little backwater town in Japan has some sort of full color promotional brochure, a glance at which would mislead an outsider to believe that the town has 200,000 more inhabitants than it actually does. This Obama Fukui phenomenon seems case in point, to me. Sure, some of the furor can probably be attributed to people who want to make a quick yen selling bean-filled 'Obama' cakes, but most of it seems to be generated by ordinary citizens who know nothing of the president-elect other than that his name might somehow put their otherwise insignificant town on the map. I guess the general observation is that rural Japanese try to shoulder their town up with much larger cities and get it noticed, while rural Americans recognize that their town is decidedly not a big city and are happy to have it go unnoticed. Not as much a 'right or wrong' judgment as it is a general observation.

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Dumb.

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does anyone in the U.S. care about Japanese elections? not. let me know if they really do.

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strange those Japanese people :p

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This is pretty pathetic.

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If you want to know if any one in america cares about Japanese elections..just wait when the first Black African Japanese President make a debut..anythin is now possible as you can see in Obama's case.. watch out the global change..

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I dont blame them...but it will be interesting how popular the city is once he starts making some unpopular decisions.

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sad to see a bunch of idiot comments posted........you would think people would be smarter than that.....this is part of Japanese culture, if you know anything about it........but obviously you dont....so do not bother commenting

do you see anything wrong with a town trying to boost its economy by celebrating the Obama name? if you do......you are retarded

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First of all, outside of Japan and Japan-related news websites, I'm pretty sure that no one in the US is aware of some boondock Japanese town called Obama. Second of all, I don't recall Obama giving them the OK to profit off of his name. Not only is this asanine, it's a dirty way to some quick money. Especially because you just KNOW most of the people don't know jack about Obama, but they're just going with the rest of the herd, like the sheep they are.

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