Residents of Japan’s Obama town dance for namesake’s win


Tokyo : People in the small northcentral and southern Japanese towns of Obama exuberantly celebrated Wednesday as the communities’ namesake was elected US president.

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Boys and girls were dancing their hula in northcentral Obama city when the news broke that Barack Obama defeated rival Republican candidate John McCain and was declared president elect.

During Obama’s victory speech at Grant Park, Chicago, his fans in the far-eastern fishing town also joined the Obama chants.

“Mr Obama proved to us that we can make our dreams come true by taking action,” an Obama citizen said after the results came in.

In a first reaction, Japan’s government said relations with its strongest ally would remain unaffected with the change of hands in the politics.

“I will work with the next president Obama to strengthen the Japan-US alliance and make an effort to resolve a number of issues surrounding the international community,” Prime Minister Taro Aso said as he conveyed his “heartfelt congratulations” to the new president.

“The Japan-US relations would not be shaken at all,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura said earlier.

In the beach town Obama, the Obama Boys’ stage was set up at the town hall, where more than 300 people gathered in the city of 32,000 for an all-day party with six television screens prepared for live reports of the election returns.

Japanese network televisions teams set up their cameras at Obama rallies in the United States, but the newly famous Japanese city also deserved extensive coverage.

“There is nothing else that makes me happier,” said Seiji Fujiwara, director of the unofficial association to support the candidate Obama, which was established by the people of Obama, located some 400 km west of Tokyo.

A US map set up at the party venue was decorated with blue ribbons denoting the states that went to Obama.

Because Obama’s father was a Kenyan, his Japanese fans invited a Kenyan delegate to join the people of Obama to celebrate the election results in the evening.

Citizens of Obama city had vowed to support the former senator from day one of the US election just for the sake of their township’s name, which means small beach in Japanese.

A small hot-spring resort in southern Japan was also toasting to the new president, who carries their township’s name.

Owners of local Japanese inns shouted, “President Obama, Banzai!” and raised posters with Obama’s name and picture at a stage set up for the occasion.

In celebration of his victory – and their municipality’s – the hot-spring bath houses offered discounts for day-trips Wednesday.

Some members of the Obama supporters’ association and the Obama hula dancers were hoping to meet the new president in person soon, maybe even being able to perform at the White House after Obama assumes his post.

“Guards may shoot us away, but we will try to get an appointment to meet him or at least dance at the White House,” Fujiwara said after he received advice from the US consulate in central Japanese city of Nagoya on how to reach the president-elect.

“This is an extremely important event for us, too, because the namesake would last for the next four or eight years,” an association member said.

Obama’s victory not only change the candidate’s fate, but it could also alter the fate of the small Japanese beach town.