The whole world rejoiced in the election of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the Unites States Of America on November 4. Never before has a US presidential election being so closely watched and followed by the world. Not since the days of new president John F Kennedy has the world's heart been so open and filled with good feelings for the United States of America. The magnitude and emotion of the world reaction illustrated the international character of the US presidency. Many look to Washington as the place where the global issues of war and peace, prosperity or crisis are decided.
In Kuala Lumpur, Americans and non-Americans gathered at the ballroom of the Renaissance Hotel to watch the elections. In Rio De Janeiro, Brazilians partied on the beach. In Jakarta, Indonesia, hundreds of students at his former elementary school poured into the school courtyard and danced in the rain when the results were announced on television. A national holiday was declared in Kenya - where Obama's father was born - in honour of the first black US president elect. The biggest cheers for Obama outside of the United States probably came from the residents of Obama in Japan.
Obama, which means "small beach" in Japanese lies in the Fukui prefecture and is about 4 hours train from Tokyo. The Obama campaign had brought an air of excitement to this sleepy hollow which has a population of approximately 30,000. Local leaders had hoped to promote tourism by latching on to the connection and giving a fillip to the economy. An "Obama for Obama" supporters group attracted 1500 members. A hula dance group called the "Obama Girls" was also formed in honor of Obama's Hawaiian heritage. When their namesake's victory was declared, the residents of Obama were ecstatic and dancers performed on stage in the city hall.
When president elect Barack Obama visits Japan, hopefully next year I wonder whether he will visit the town of Obama to thank the residents there for their support during the White House campaign. I am sure the residents of Obama will be thrilled to meet him and will roll out the red carpet to welcome him. They may even make Obama an honorary citizen of Obama. The mayor of Obama has recently announced that he intends to commission the erection of a statue of Barack Obama to be put in front of the city hall "as a token of the great historical moment for the name Obama". In addition he has declared that November 4 be made an annual holiday in the city.