As much of the world is focused on the US this week eagerly awaiting the results of the presidential election, one small Fukui town in particular is closely watching in anticipation. The town of Obama, population 32,000, is cheering on the candidate that shares its name with a prayer session for the President this Wednesday, the day election results are announced in Japan. The event will feature dance and music performances, a visit by the mayor, constant election updates and jerk chicken, one of President Obama’s favorite foods. Free badges and “I love Obama” stickers will be also be available.
Obama, which means “little beach” in Japanese, began its relationship with the President in Narita airport during Obama’s first visit to Japan. While going through immigration, the customs agent who stamped the then-senator’s passport told him that he was from a town of the same name. Some letters between Mr. Obama and town officials were exchanged and as he launched his campaign for president, local businesses put up “Go Obama!” posters, sold “I love Obama” T-shirts, and produced manju with Obama’s face on them. Whether or not he is re-elected, residents hope that some day President Obama will pay them a visit.