Obama scores big in Japan portion of global primary

by Reiji Yoshida

U.S. Sen. Barack Obama won an overwhelming majority of the votes cast at polling stations in Japan during the first-ever global primary for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Lauren Shannon, chairwoman of Democrats Abroad in Japan, said Monday that Obama’s victory here was due in part to his multicultural background and overseas experience.

“That means a lot to a lot of us,” she told a news conference at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo. Shannon is a supporter of Obama.

Obama won 83 percent of the votes cast Feb. 5 in Tokyo, around 80 percent in Kyoto and 70 percent in Nagoya, Shannon said.

The numbers from the three polling stations do not include votes coming in via the Internet or fax. The final tally will not be available until after Thursday, Shannon said.

Obama lived with his mother from the age of 6 to 10 in Indonesia. His father, Barack Obama Sr., was born and raised in Kenya. Shannon pointed out that when Obama wins, he often wins big. He has won by a large margin in some states in the U.S., she said.

“I don’t think (the situation in Japan) is so different than the States,” said Shannon, a restaurant manager in the Omotesando district of Tokyo.

Shannon said Democrats Abroad Japan had tens of thousands of registered members in the 2004 presidential election, but she did not say how many members it has at present.

The results of the worldwide Democratic primary will be reflected in the delegate count at the party’s national convention this summer.

The Republicans Abroad group is not holding a primary.