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Saturday, May 2, 2015

Japan PM Speaks To U.S. Congress - In English!

Saying he won't filibuster, Japan Prime Minister Abe Shinzo (surname first) gave a decent speech in slow English discussing his countries past, present and future relationship with the U.S.

On Wednesday, April 29, 2015, Abe delivered a speech—the first Japanese PM to do so—to the JOINT session of the U.S. Congress.

What is particularly cool about it - and I'm a sucker for symmetry, is that Abe made special mention of his grandfather (his mom's father), Kishi Nobusuke (surname first), who in June of 1957, gave a speech right there in the very same place - and in a moment of great joy for him, repeated the very same words his grandfather uttered there to open HIS speech - a fact that garnered him a standing ovation from the polite crowd.

I do wonder if the audience was being ultra polite or if they have a better understanding than myself, but when I listened to Abe speak, I had a difficult time understanding everything he said, such as when he thanked US Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy, though he was quite good at acknowledging the recently passed Senator Daniel Inoue, an American of Japanese descent who did wonders for the public appearance of Japanese during and after WWII when it was at its lowest thanks to the fierceness and sheer brutality of the Japanese.

Abe mentions, that he also spent some time as a young man in California, fondly recalling the widowed woman with whom he rented from, admitting he loved her Italian-style cuisine.

Another brilliant and charming scene has Abe (pronounced Ah-bay) discussing how some Americans (but I think he means 'westerners') would pronounce his name as Abe (as in the short form of President Lincoln).

He says he didn't mind, and why would a good politician want to cause a fuss, because he knows that it was U.S. president Abraham Lincoln (good ol Honest Abe) - who helped open up the Japanese mind to the benefits of democracy, liking the fact that someone who had such humble roots could grow up to lead the country, something unheard of in Japan that was run by fellows who knew that military might made right, or divine birth made one a god and thus Emperor.

Abe's family, of course, is not of such humble birth, but not that long ago, his family was involved in the distilling business, brewing sake and soy sauce.

But… it's not like they were simple farmers—rather they were landlords of the land now part of the city of Nagato in Yamaguchi-ken.

Anyhow, it's a long speech, and dispute promises to the contrary, Abe provides an interesting 45-minute speech, that only seems to me to be filibustering.

Then again, we are part of the generation that tries to get its point across in 140 characters or less.

Me… I create all those really short blog articles.

Yes, they are short… you should see what I really want to write…

I'm having trouble embedding the video, so HERE's a link to it from C-Span.

My main critique is that tie... not the tie itself, but rather how it was tied. Abe needs a better helper. Hey... I'm just being honest, Abe.

Enjoy the speech,
Andrew Joseph


  1. What's wrong with his tie? He should really be using a spread collar if he wants to use such a big knot, but then again I see many Japanese doing it the same way he is. Heck, I've done it too occasionally.

    I'm not crazy about Abe, but it was a pretty good speech. As to understanding his talking - I assume everyone was given printed copies of his speech beforehand and that they weren't really listening that closely, merely applauding when they were suppose to in order to be polite.

    1. Hey David.,.. I don't care for the toe being scrunched in at the top... it should have been pushed out from underneath... I've seen other ties worm by Abe where it's even more pronounced.
      I'll take your word on it regarding the collar, though.
      That makes sense re: the speech handouts! Good call! I, too am not a fan of Abe, but agree it was a good speech!