Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama-Mania in Japan

A few people have been asking me recently what the buzz about Obama is like in Japan.

Well, no surprises, he's just as popular over here as he is everywhere else in the world.
There's been a lot of Obama coverage on Japanese TV. Japanese bookstores are selling lots of books about Obama.

A CD of Obama's speeches with an accompanying textbook and Japanese translation has become a best seller, and many of my students have been trying to use it to improve their English.

But today was especially eye-opening for me. Several of my Japanese students told me they stayed up till 4 in the morning to watch Obama's inauguration speech. (Because of the time difference, it started at about 2 AM Japan time).
They asked me what I thought about the speech, and it was a bit embarrassing because I had to admit that I, the American, had gone to bed early and missed the whole thing. (Now that the election is over, I'm breathing a sigh of relief, and I don't feel like I have to view every minute of Barak's career in real-time).
Still, it probably says a lot that so many Japanese people wanted to stay up until 4 to watch Barak Obama make history.

The hopes the whole world has for this guy are amazing.

Perhaps some of the intense adulation surrounding Obama isn't healthy for a democracy, but the optimist in me likes to think that it might help Obama hear the call of history, and rise to the occasion. He knows he's got the chance to go down as one of the world's greatest leaders if he plays his cards right, and so hopefully he'll have less incentive to play politics as usual.

Here's hoping in 4 years we're not disappointed.

Other blogger's takes: Inauguration from Quare Id Faciam

Link of the Day
Goodbye to all that

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