A day after last week's U.S. presidential election, I got an email from my former host mother in Fukushima with the subject line 残念 (zannen), the word used in situations of regret, disappointment or — fittingly enough for the election of Donald Trump — when something is "deplorable."
日本も心配だわ！ (Nihon mo shinpai da wa!, "Japan is worried too!"), she wrote, which put me in the position of trying to comfort someone who had generally comforted me. I tried replying with some sort of consolation — that things would be OK, that nothing would really change — but it all felt false. What did I know? All I could manage was the uncertain どうなるだろうね (Dō naru darō ne, "I wonder how it will turn out").
It's difficult to know exactly what the world will be getting with President Trump, but looking at the word choices of the 次期大統領 (jiki daitōryō, president-elect) and how those words have been relayed in Japanese can help explain much of the international uncertainty and concern. The Donald certainly chose nice words immediately after his election. NHK's reporting on NHKラジオニュース (rajio nyūsu, radio news) made the man sound like a leader, both through the gravelly 声優 (seiyū, voice actor) they chose to dub him with and the translation itself.