Obama backs Obama, prays for his return as US president
RESIDENTS of Obama City, Japan, are cheering on the US president of the same name and praying for his re-election this week.
The town, with a name meaning “small beach”, is on Japan’s western coast about six hours’ drive from Tokyo.
Obama City Hall Commerce and Tourism Division staff member Hirokazu Yomo says President Obama’s election has brought various opportunities to the town, and its people are wishing for another term.
The “Obama for Obama” support group will hold an event dubbed “The meeting to pray for President Obama’s re-election” on Wednesday night (Japan Standard Time) at a local hall.
Group leader Seiji Fukuhara, 60, told the Chunichi Shimbun newspaper he planned to assemble more than 100 people in the hall to watch live coverage of the election and cheer on the president.
“We are worried [about President Obama’s chances], unlike last election,” Mr Fukuhara said.
“We want to cheer him on so he can be re-elected and put our city in the spotlight again.”
Mr Fukuhara has spent weeks making election-themed goods to hand out at the event, including hundreds of pins and stickers, as well as baseball caps he plans to sell for 500 yen (NZ$8) apiece.
A local hula dance team called the Obama Girls will perform at the event, as they did on the night of the 2008 election and in the president’s home state of Hawaii last year.
In February, 2008, then-Senator Obama thanked the city for its support in a letter to the mayor signed “Your Friend” in Japanese.
The Obama for Obama group has since hosted the US ambassador and been invited to consular events.
University students hailing from neighbouring Tsuruga City say President Obama seems more tuned-in to Asian affairs than his opponent Mitt Romney.
“Mr Obama seems more adventurous,” says Madoka.
Her friend Maya says: “This area is famous for seafood and I think if Mr Obama came here he would try all the different foods – sea slugs, for example – without fear, but I’m not sure if Mr Romney would.”
In an opinion poll held by AFP over September and October, 83% of Japanese respondents said they would pick Obama if they could vote in the US presidential election.
Image: The “Obama for Obama” Support Group (i-love-obama.com)