TOKYO, Nov 11 (Reuters) – Meet Japan’s Joe Biden – the mayor of a remote town who’s become an internet sensation for having a name that can be pronounced the same as that of the U.S.president-elect.
Yutaka Umeda, the 73-year-old mayor of Yamato – a town of15,000 in southwestern Japan – first realized that the Chinese characters used to write his name could, if said differently, sound like “Joe Biden” while watching television coverage of theU.S. vote count with his family.
Japan uses kanji characters from China along with phoneticJapanese script, especially for names, and the characters cansometimes be read in different ways. In Umeda’s case, his firstname, Yutaka, can also be pronounced “Jo,” while his surnamebecomes “Baiden.”
Over the last few days, Umeda has become a media andinternet sensation.
“I’m really surprised,” Umeda told Reuters. “I was told Iwas in the news in Japan but I was in Tokyo yesterday, and Iheard from people that I made news in the U.S. too.”
People have suggested Umeda fly to Washington to meet Bidenor invite him to Yamato, but for now, Umeda said he will contenthimself with a congratulatory letter.
“To me, the president of the U.S. was someone far away,“said Umeda. “But coincidentally, because our names arephonetically the same, I feel much closer to him when I watchhis speeches and videos.”(Reporting by Akiko Okamoto, Writing by Elaine Lies; Editing byKarishma Singh)
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