Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says he pays his Facebook and Twitter fees just like everyone else

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Has Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe fallen for one of those “Facebook to start charging” hoaxes?

Abe found himself the butt of the joke in parliament this week after slipping up on the subject of social media. The prime minister proudly told the House of Councillors on Wednesday that of course, he pays his Facebook and Twitter membership fees.

When Democratic Party politician Tsutomu Okubo asked Abe the question in an exchange during a budget meeting on Wednesday, he was clearly hoping to catch him out. And he succeeded.

Okubo first asked if the prime minister operates his social media accounts himself, to which Abe stated that he has help from staff, but the content of the tweets is all him. “My personal account, that one’s run by myself and my staff, basically I decide what we’re going to post about,” he told the assembly.

Next, Okubo asked with a cheeky smirk on his face: “And have you ever paid Twitter and Facebook service fees?”

He must have been delighted when the prime minister walked right into his trap, replying that yes, of course he pays his fees.

▼ Okubo looking pleased with his clever question.

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Like many world leaders, Abe has two sets of social media accounts, one under his own name, and an official account of the administration of the prime minister (the Kantei). He told the assembly that the fees on personal accounts are the responsibility of the individual:

“Of course, I pay my own fees for my personal social media accounts. But as for the Kantei accounts [the office of the PM], that’s paid for by the Kantei.”

Smiling, Okubo went on to explain what every schoolchild in this day and age knows: that Facebook and Twitter are free to use. For everyone. When he continued to poke the prime minister, asking, “Who are you paying these fees to, then?” there was audible laughter around the room.

▼ Even Abe’s team looked amused at the blunder.

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Abe rose again to counter with:

“I don’t actually know about the details of how it works. I decide the content of the posts and my staff do the rest. I think that’s to be expected really.”

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Obama begins Asia trip with ‘the best sushi I’ve ever had’

 

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took President Barack Obama to famed sushi restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro for a private dinner on Wednesday night.

 

Anyone who imagines U.S. President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe discussed territorial disputes with China or the U.S.’s “pivot to Asia” foreign policy during their private dinner in Tokyo on Wednesday likely isn’t familiar with the restaurant where the two leaders dined.

Ahead of a protocol-bound formal state visit that officially begins on Thursday, Abe took Obama to Sukiyabashi Jiro, the fabled restaurant in Tokyo’s fashionable Ginza district widely regarded as the best sushi restaurant in the world.

Diners approach Sukiyabashi Jiro with a sense of reverence.

The experience provided by head chef and proprietor Jiro Ono leaves little time for small talk, much less big talk.

The focus is on the fish.

Heralded as a Japanese national treasure, Ono, who turns 90 next year, is the first sushi chef in the world to receive three Michelin stars.

With hundreds of onlookers behind police barriers lining the streets near the restaurant, Obama and Abe, neither wearing neckties, shook hands and entered the basement restaurant. New U.S. ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, also attended the dinner, which lasted about an hour and a half.

Sukiyabashi Jiro, a tiny restaurant with a coveted three Michelin-star rating, has only ten seats and is run by its 89-year-old owner, Jiro.

Like those who have gone before him into this shrine of sushi, Obama did not leave disappointed.

President Obama told me that, ‘I was born in Hawaii and ate a lot of sushi, but this was the best sushi I’ve ever had in my life,'” Abe told Japan‘s NHK network after the meal.

Inside the restaurant, Abe poured sake for Obama at the sushi counter.

While Obama praised the sushi enthusiastically, some onlookers said he stopped eating halfway through the meal.

The owner of another restaurant that is located in the same subway station told Tokyo Broadcasting System that Obama had put his chopsticks down midway into the dinner.

He also said a sushi chef from Sukiyabashi Jiro said Obama did not make small talk, but was quite serious, jumping into a discussion on trade immediately.

Japan’s chief government spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, refused Thursday to cite exactly how much Obama ate, saying instead: “It’s true that he ate a good amount.”

 

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Obama begins Asia trip with ‘the best sushi I’ve ever had’

"President Obama told me that, 'I was born in Hawaii and ate a lot of sushi, but this was the best sushi I've ever had in my life,'" Abe told Japan's NHK network after the meal.
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster