Sunday, November 15, 2009

U. S. President Obama in Tokyo

Three days ago, U.S. President Obama gave his speech in Tokyo. First, Prime Minister Hatoyama made his speech. He spoke in his monotone voice on and on. I usually fall asleep while listening to this kind of speeches, but I was hoping Hatoyama would stop soon. I stared at his broad shoulders and wondered if his wife instructed their tailor to sew up extra pads. A while ago, he and his wife made their appearance in a fashion show. I changed the channel. Have you seen it? I wished the program wouldn’t be aired in foreign countries.

Hatoyama was about to end his speech, I thought. Instead, he began another phrase. The audience appeared to sigh at the same time. You might not hear it, but I could tell. I felt sorry for Obama. He came all the way from Washington and had to hear the loong speech. If he were eating lunch, he could have finished it. Wait. Make that dinner, please.

At last, Obama had his turn. He spoke as usual in his clear voice with varied pitch. A QA session followed. A Japanese male journalist--I think he was from a television station-- asked a few questions to Hatoyama. Without having him answer those questions, the journalist simply directed his questions to Obama. No one intervened. I thought he would be asking a few questions to Obama and trying to save his question time. It could be a good thing.

I was wrong. On the contrary, the journalist went on and on, too, asking more questions. I watched Obama’s face. His eyelids almost closed halfway at the fourth or fifth questions. Still the journalist went on to his next question. Obama smiled. His white teeth showed. I mumbled, “Please stop the question right there. Please don’t embarrass us.” He couldn’t hear me. I didn’t know how many bullet questions he asked, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he threw seven or eight.

I just want you to know that long speeches and many questions all at once are not a national characteristic. I hope. It was individual things. I assure you. As I believe one way criticisms are unfair, so I want to offer my help on this problem. But nobody has ever come forward and asked me yet. Well, I’m here.


Vincent said...

Poor Keiko! No need to carry the burden of your country's honour on your shoulders. As far as I am concerned the Japanese are models of brevity and wit.

Examples: the Seven Samurai, haiku, Zen masters - who used to teach their monkish pupils sometimes with a couple of words, a blow with a stick, or impenetrable silence.

Luciana said...

Oh, Keiko, if I were to be embarrassed every time the Brazilian President or Brazilian jornalists did something like that, I wouldn´t live. Don´t worry. The soul of a people is much, much more than what is on the news! You are Japan to me and probably to a lot of other people. Your PM is not. :-)

keiko amano said...


You're right about that. I think I need a vacation.

keiko amano said...


A big smile to you. But I don't hear anything like that from Brazilians or others. Probably if I hear it from you, most likely I would say the same thing as you did.