Friday, May 23, 2008

Obamans for Obama

Fukui Prefecture, on the southwest coast of Japan, was always linked in my mind with nuclear power plants. I thought that it was a relatively poor area that could not refuse the revenues these power plants would bring. Power plants aside, I was wrong about the poverty.

There was a little article in today's newspaper that showed a very different Fukui. Lowest unemployment rate in the nation, third in terms of individual savings, second lowest infant mortality... it's also tops in terms of female employment as well as second in birthrate, proving equal opportunity for women has nothing to do with the ever-declining birthrate in Japan. Who knew Fukui was such a progressive prefecture!

But right now, the prefecture's number one claim to fame is the little town of Obama. Previously known only as an unpretentious seafood processing town, today, it is the base camp of the "Obama-koho wo katteni o-en suru Kai." ("The Unofficial Group for Unofficially Supporting Presidential Candidate Obama")

The town is filled with tributes to the American politician -- support posters are plastered throughout the town, the senator's mug is baked into Obama Buns, there's a pachinko parlour named "President" and every Tuesday is "Super Tuesday." Now, there's a CD. I haven't heard it yet, but someone who has says that they sing mostly about the beautiful shores of Obama (Fukui) and Obama's boyhood home, Hawaii.

And to think, before the senator's rise to the political stage, the only political thing associated with Obama, Fukui was the abduction of Japanese citizens by North Korean agents.

But sometimes I think everything is connected and there are no accidents. Maybe in time, we will see how all of these small coincidences come together.

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