WASHINGTON – U.S. President Barack Obama pleased Japanese in the audience on Tuesday during a welcome ceremony for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, using a Japanese greeting and hailing the country’s pop culture such as emoji emoticons, karaoke and anime.
“Ohayo gozaimasu,” Obama said, starting his address with “good morning” in Japanese at the event, which took place at the White House with Abe and his wife, Akie.
“This visit is a celebration of the ties of friendship and family that bind our peoples,” Obama said while standing side by side with Abe, who became the first Japanese premier in nine years to visit the United States as an official guest.
“Today is also a chance for Americans, especially our young people, to say thank you for all the things we love from Japan,” Obama said.
“Like karate and karaoke. Manga and anime. And, of course, emojis,” Obama, the father of two teenage daughters, said, drawing laughter from the audience of hundreds, including many Japanese.
Obama said Abe’s visit “has historic significance” and both governments will broaden their alliance to tackle various issues such as security and trade issues as well as protection of human rights.
Abe, who last visited Washington more than two years ago, said he was delighted to return to the United States at a time when “bilateral ties have become stronger than ever.”