Japan’s very own Joe Biden

Allison Hinrichs

More stories from Allison Hinrichs


Photo by Submitted

Mayor Yutaka Umeda smiles while holding his name plate at town hall (Mainichi/Kohei Shimizu)

With 2020 presidential election results, COVID-19 updates and now Ellen DeGeneres selling her Bali-stlyed home for $33.3 million, the news can make you feel a little depressed … and poor.

This non-stop barrage of heavy, hard-hitting news (and yes I am still referring to Ellen DeGeneres selling her house as hard-hitting) can be mentally damaging.

Constantly being plugged in to Facebook and Twitter with people talking about the newest and most pressing issue is exhausting.

With all the chaos of this year, we have forgotten we are just weird little organisms floating on a rock in space. Everything is not as serious as it seems and we should spend the majority of our time laughing — not stressing.

So, in this column I will be giving you the news I think is important. Mind you, I am an ill-informed journalist in training with ADHD and am only subscribed to news sites mainly talking about animals.

 Nonetheless, I think I am the best qualified to provide you with the news you will want to hear.

This week, we will be discussing an amazing phenomenon: coincidence or possibly fate. Either way it is ridiculous and I love it: Japan has its very own Joe Biden.

The mayor of a small town has become an internet sensation overnight for having a name that can be pronounced the same as the U.S president-elect’s name.

The adorable Yutaka Umeda is the 73-year-old mayor of Yamato — a small town in southwestern Japan. Umeda initially realized the Chinese characters used to spell his name would sound like “Joe Biden,” if said differently, while watching coverage of the U.S election on television.

Like China, Japan uses kanji and phonetic Japanese script. Kanji can sometimes be read in different ways and in the case of Umeda, his first name Yutaka, can also be pronounced as “Jo” while Umeda can be pronounced as “Baiden.”

“To me, the president of the U.S was someone far away,” Umeda said, “But coincidentally, because our names are phonetically the same, I feel much closer to him when I watch his speeches and videos.”

I don’t know about you guys but I think “Jo Baiden” needs to run for president in Japan. Without knowing a single one of his views on politics, I would still give him my vote.

This statement alone can give you guys an indication as to why I switched from a political science major to a journalism major.

Hinrichs can be reached [email protected].