Japan; The mayor of a small Japanese town has become an internet trendsetter after it was marked that the characters of his name can be read as “Jo Baiden,” phonetically identical to the name of the victor in last week’s U.S. presidential election.
Yutaka Umeda, 73, mayor of Yamato, was detected by surprise when his family told him that an alternate reading of his name had attracted attention online.” I feel very close to him. It feels as though I’ve also won the election after hearing about Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s victory” over his rival, President Donald Trump, Umeda said.
Kanji characters have several phonetic readings. The mayor’s family name contains characters signifying “plum” and “rice field,” but while they are usually articulated as “ume” and “da” in names, a fairly ordinary one in Japan can also be read as “bai” and “den.” The character for Yutaka is more generally read as “jo.”Umeda said he has received a lot of messages following the former U.S. vice president’s election success. With Biden assigned to take office next year, Umeda expects the event will also be a possibility for his small town of about 15,000 to flounder in the spotlight.
“Being the president of a superpower like the United States and a mayor of Yamato the scale is totally different, but I’d like to think of ways to promote the town,” he said. When former Biden’s running mate, Barack Obama, was elected president in 2008, the city of Obama, in Fukui Prefecture, developed headlines in both Japan and abroad.
Residents launched a group to support Obama and created wares featuring his likeness. The then-mayor of the coastal city even voiced hope that Obama would become a special honorary citizen. When the president visited Japan in 2009, he even addressed the city during an address, saying, “And of course, I could not come here without conveying my greetings and appreciation to the citizens of Obama, Japan.”