Ambassador Stephen Gomersall joined fellow Britons and a number of Japanese observers to witness the results of the election roll in over a buffet breakfast Friday morning at the British Embassy.
Among the Japanese politicians present was former Foreign Minister Yohei Kono, who also serves as chairman of the Anglo-Japanese parliamentary group.
“There is a feeling that Westminster is a model of democracy and there is a high level of interest in the way the British Parliament does things and the way in which things are changing,” Gomersall said.
Attention focused on three large TV screens tuned in to BBC World coverage of the election in the residence of Stuart Jack, minister at the embassy, which included live reports from key constituencies across the country.
“We’re very pleased at the turnout and there seems to be a lot of interest in the election here,” Jack said. “It is very pleasing that they’re following it so closely, and we have found considerable interest in the British style of government.”
It was not immediately clear what the Japanese viewers made of the on-screen antics of Peter Snow — a presenter who traditionally presides over election night broadcasts. Snow is renowned for his wild gesticulations and love of eye-catching computer graphics to indicate voting trends.
Shortly before 9 a.m. in Tokyo, Snow was predicting that Prime Minister Tony Blair’s ruling Labor Party was on course to win 175 seats in Parliament, just a few short of the landslide victory he won four years ago.
One of the first results to be announced was that of Gordon Brown, chancellor of the exchequer, who was comfortably returned in his Scottish constituency.
“The time difference allows us to lay this on and quite a lot of Diet members expressed an interest in coming along, especially with the political reform that is under way here at the moment,” said Sue Kinoshita, press officer at the embassy.
“One thing that I have noticed is the expressions of surprise at how fast the results have come in, even though the election has been a little less exciting this time round.”
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.