Yutaka Umeda is a 73-year old mayor of Yamato, a small town of 15,000 residents in southwest Japan. Umeda became a sensation because the kanji characters used to spell his name can be spelled as 'Jo Baiden.'
The Japanese Internet is getting a chuckle out of the mayor of Yamato in Kumamoto Prefecture, whose name, Umeda Yutaka (梅田穰), can be read with on-yomi (pronunciation derived from Chinese) as "Baiden Jou". https://t.co/oVDXp3WJLl — Unseen Japan (@UnseenJapanSite) November 8, 2020
If Baiden ever had a chance to meet Biden, he would introduce himself as the 'Biden of Kumamoto.'
The Guardian points out that Kanji characters sometimes have double or triple phonetic readings. Umeda's surname, 梅田, can be read as 'ume' and 'da' and also 'bai' and 'den.' The character of Yutaka, his first name, is 穣, which can be a Japanese male given name of 'Jō.'
As perplexing as it is, Umeda (or Baiden) hopes that the buzz could somehow give his town a little bit of worldwide recognition. Baiden feels a strange connection with Biden, almost as if the Yamato mayor also won the election.
"Although there is a huge difference between the job of the U.S. president and mine, as the mayor of Yamato ... our passion is the same," he said.
Since the story developed, the Yamato mayor said he had received tongue-in-cheek and humorous congratulation messages from fellow Japanese. No matter how short-lived the attention is, Biden of Kumamoto wishes that it could bring awareness to the small town he leads.
Not the First Time
The same thing happened in 2008 to a fishing town on the Japanese coast called Obama in Fukui Prefecture, Japan.
The city with an estimated 29,000 population backed Barack Obama and Joe Biden from Democrat during the US presidential election against John McCain and Sarah Palin from Republican. Residents of the city formed a support group called 'Obama for Obama' to back the Democrats.
During his visit to Japan a year later, Barack Obama sent his gratitude to Obama's citizens.
"I could not come here without sending my greetings and gratitude to the citizens of Obama, Japan," said the then-president.
The victory gave the city even more publicity. The mayor sent President Obama a personalized gift of thanks letter, a set of chopsticks, and a tourist brochure.
Who's Winning the Election?
Associated Press (AP) has announced Joe Biden and Kamala Harris of Democrat as the race winners to the White House against Donald Trump and Mike Pence from Republican.
Parties and prayers have been held across the country to celebrate democracy. The new president and vice president-elect will be inaugurated on January 20, 2021.