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Illust by Junko Suzuki
Prop Station, a Nonprofit Social Welfare
Organization Supporting the Challenged.

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President Barack Obama’s Remarks at Suntory Hall

December 9, 2009

On Friday November 14, I got a unique opportunity to listen to remarks by U.S. President Barack Obama at Suntory Hall by the invitation of the Embassy of the United States, Tokyo.

Actually, the officials from the White House and the Embassy of the United States called on Prop Station’s Tokyo Office in the middle of September. They considered Prop Tokyo as one of the First Lady Michelle Obama’s visits if President Obama would make a visit to Japan along with the First Lady. Unfortunately, only President Obama visited Japan this time and the chance to meet her was postponed.

It was my greatest honor and pleasure to be invited for President Obama’s remarks, awarded “The Women of Courage Award, Japan,“ and being nominated Prop Station’s Tokyo Office as a candidate of the First Lady’s possible brief visit in Tokyo by the U. S. Embassy, Tokyo.

At Suntory Hall

Well, President Obama in person definitely had a powerful aura. All of you know his humorous joke saying on his speech, “Some of you may be aware that when I was a young boy, my mother brought me to Kamakura, where I looked up at that centuries-old symbol of peace and tranquility -- the great bronze Amida Buddha (Great Buddha). And as a child, I was more focused on the matcha (powdered green tea) ice cream.”

His expression to thanks to the citizens of Obama evoked a laugh among us. The President was strongly applauded when he mentioned that the denuclearization of North Korea and all information regarding Japanese abductees would need to become apparent for accomplishing the world peace without nuclear arms.

When his 30 minute-remarks was over, a standing ovation lasted about a minute and it was a fantastic atmosphere with the audience’s excitement to his speech and a burst of tumultuous applause. After the excitement was cooled I though President Obama gave the speech in a calm and strategic way.

It was his first speech in Asia and he focused on the significance of the U.S.-Japan alliance as it was a part of the worldwide strategy for the United States and the major key for the strategy in Asia above all. He also mentioned, “And as our alliance evolves and adapts for the future, we will always strive to uphold the spirit that President Eisenhower described long ago -- a partnership of equality and mutual respect.” However, I thought this speech was delivered to all of us including the U.S. citizens, people in other Asian countries, and those Japanese citizens lacking awareness in regards to the U.S.-Japan cooperative relations.

President Obama delivering his remarks

President Obama has a soft-spoken style, an excellent grip on the audience, and his attitude is natural poise. It is no wonder President Barack Obama is often compared to President John F. Kennedy because of his charismatic leadership. As a president of the United States, I believe he must assume a heavy responsibility and cope with the pressure that none of the leading politicians in other countries experiences but he always has a fresh look on his face. I think he has taken an incredible amount of effort and patience to stay calm under such circumstances.

One scene in the venue gave evidence of the change in Japanese political administrations. The members of the Democratic Party and the three top party officials sat in the front row. On the other hands, all of the major members of the Liberal Democratic Party were seated in the back row. Former Prime Minister Mr. Yoshiro Mori stepped forward to the front row to greet Mr. Naoto Kan. That couldn’t happen before the change of the government.

Computer/Electronic Accommodation Program (CAP) in the U.S. Department of Defense, the counterpart of Prop Station has just celebrated its 20th anniversary. The relationship between Prop Station and our counterpart in the United States has been getting stronger but the U.S.-Japan relations after the change of the government of Japan seem to be soured. Listening to President Obama’s speech in person, I promised myself to continue my greatest efforts with Prop Station for better and deeper relationship between the United States and Japan.

(The photos in the text were taken by Hiroaki Takenaka, the executive director of Prop Station.)

<by Nami>

Nami was on the photo that was posted on the White House’s website.
Please click here to visit the site of the White House.

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