SAO PAULO – Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi wept before an audience of Japanese-Brazilians here Wednesday as he recounted an enthusiastic encounter with descendants of Japanese immigrants the day before.
He told his listeners about his helicopter ride Tuesday over the Japanese community of a Sao Paulo suburb, during which he spotted the word “kangei,” or welcome, on the ground.
Koizumi said the descendants of the immigrants greeted him with tears in their eyes, then paused for a moment to wipe away his own tears.
“All the people who have persevered under different weather, language, food and customs welcomed the prime minister of Japan,” Koizumi said. “I was much happier than you.”
He told his listeners that Brazil is “the closest to my heart” because one of his closest cousins lives there.
He began his speech by saying, “Bon dia,” or good morning, and “obrigado,” which means thank you, in Portuguese.
Koizumi is visiting Brazil on the first leg of his 11-day tour of Brazil, Mexico and the United States.