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How Tokyo saw the U.S. midterm elections

21 3 36
12.11.2018

Last week Tokyo was caught up in an unprecedented media frenzy over the 2018 U.S. midterm elections. Having followed, officially or personally, almost all the national elections in America for the past 42 years, I have never imagined that the Japanese media would pay so much attention to those usually insipid midterms. On Friday and Saturday I served as a commentator on five TV and radio news or debate programs in Tokyo and Osaka. The schedule was so hectic that I could not sleep for almost 24 hours. This time, people here were so anxious to know what would happen to the United States.

The first American elections I was involved in were the presidential and congressional elections of 1976, as a volunteer, when I was a university student in Minneapolis-St. Paul. I could easily predict that “Jimmy who?” Carter would win because people at that time wanted to change the government after the infamous Watergate scandal.

Forty years later in 2016, however, I could not predict the victory of Donald Trump — probably the first time this happened to me. Therefore, last week on election day I was nervous and afraid that I might repeat the same mistake as I made two years before. Fortunately, this time the results were within the range of the imagination.

Having said that, Tokyo’s perspectives and concerns are indigenous. For the benefit of readers outside Japan, the following are typical questions raised to me, combined with my answers, during those 24 hours. Forgive my ignorance if I am wrong. The first few........

© The Japan Times