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Representatives from 91 nations attend ceremony on 71st anniversary of atomic bombing of Hiroshima


Japan Times:

Hiroshima on Saturday marked the 71st anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing, with Mayor Kazumi Matsui calling on world leaders to do more to abolish nuclear weapons and to follow U.S. President Barack Obama’s historic visit to the city in May with trips of their own.

At a memorial ceremony, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe echoed Matsui’s call and also urged young people to visit to observe the harrowing reality of the atomic bombing. Abe also reiterated Japan’s role in combating nuclear proliferation as the only country to have been attacked with nuclear weapons.

In the Peace Declaration read at the city’s annual memorial ceremony, Matsui urged the leaders of all nations to visit Hiroshima, which was devastated by an atomic bomb on Aug. 6, 1945, and Nagasaki, which was obliterated by another atomic strike three days later by the United States, in order to “etch the reality of the atomic bombings in each (leader’s) heart.

Matsui then called on the world to “unify and manifest our passion in action” to proceed toward a world free of nuclear weapons.


A moment of silence was observed at 8:15 a.m., the time the atomic bomb exploded over Hiroshima at an altitude of about 600 meters, killing an estimated 140,000 people by the end of 1945. A second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki on Aug. 9 that year, and Japan surrendered six days later, effectively ending the war.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe emphasized the importance of maintaining and enhancing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that binds its signatories not to pursue atomic weapons programs.

Abe also said he will maintain his efforts to create a world free of nuclear weapons by asking both nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear-weapon states for cooperation, and by showing world leaders and young people the painful reality of radiation exposure.

During the ceremony, a message from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was also read out by a representative.

Today, the world needs the hibakusha spirit more than ever,” at a time when “global tensions are rising” and progress on nuclear disarmament is “hard to find,” the message said, adding that nuclear powers “have special responsibility to prevent another Hiroshima,”

Ban urged all nations to “find common ground through inclusive dialogue.”

The ceremony was attended by representatives from 91 nations, including recognized nuclear weapons states such as Britain, France, the United States and Russia. The European Union was also represented.

The number of hibakusha stood at 174,080 as of March, and their average age was just over 80 years old.

President Obama signs bill eliminating ‘Oriental’ from Federal Law

U.S. President Barack Obama signed a bill Friday that modernizes the terms used for minorities.

NBC News (by Stephany Bai):

President Barack Obama has signed a bill eliminating all known uses of the term “oriental” from federal law.

The bill, which was sponsored by Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-NY), was passed by the House of Representatives unanimously on Feb. 29 and again by the Senate on May 9. It was co-sponsored by 76 members of Congress, including all 51 members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.

Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), who sponsored the bill in the Senate, said in a statement that she was “proud to have seen this effort through.”

After months of advocacy in both chambers of Congress, derogatory terms in federal law will finally be updated to reflect our country’s diversity,” she said. “Mahalo to President Obama for his quick action.

Oriental” had still existed in Title 42 of the U.S. Code, which was written in the 1970s. It will be replaced with “Asian Americans.”

In a statement, Congresswoman Meng expressed relief that “at long last this insulting and outdated term will be gone for good.”

Many Americans may not be aware that the word ‘Oriental’ is derogatory,” she said. “But it is an insulting term that needed to be removed from the books, and I am extremely pleased that my legislation to do that is now the law of the land.

Former migrant worker Xiao Jiguo becomes famous in China for looking like Barack Obama

jiguoNext Shark (by Riley Schatzle): 

Xiao Jiguo is a 29-year-old former migrant worker from Guangzhou, China, who now makes a living by exploiting the fact that he looks almost exactly like Barack Obama.

Over the last four years, Jiguo has committed to his doppleganger career by studying hundreds of videos of the United States president, memorizing his inauguration speech, shaping his eyebrows and even getting plastic surgery to enhance his Obama-like facial features.


Jiguo told the Global Times:

“In order to imitate Obama, besides waxing [his] eyebrows, he only needs a shirt, a tie and a black suit to get by, anywhere.”

While Jiguo has always borne a striking resemblance to the U.S. President, it wasn’t until 2012 when he became famous for his ability to impersonate President Obama on the TV talent contest, ”Chinese Dream Show,” according to People’s Daily Online.

Jiguo’s new comedy series centering around his Obama impersonation, “Obama Goes on Dates,” started in May and has received positive feedback. Jiguo says he never wants to go back to being a waiter but rather wants to get to a point in his career where he can act and write his own music.


Asian American civil rights support: The untold story of why MLK wore a Hawaiian lei at Selma

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The Daily Beast (by Tim Mak): 

Bright Hawaiian lei will be on full display this weekend when President Barack Obama, civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis and others march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma to mark the anniversary of the civil rights protests.

There’s an untold backstory of aloha—a Hawaiian word meaning compassion, peace and love—that runs through the Selma-to-Montgomery marches in Alabama, 50 years ago.

In photos of the 54-mile third march from Selma to Montgomery on March 21, 1965, Martin Luther King, John Lewis and other demonstrators can be seen wearing the iconic Hawaiian flower garlands.

It’s a jarring, out-of-place image of fragile, flowery optimism amidst a backdrop of intimidation, violence and federalized troops.

The journey of those flowers from Hawaii to Alabama started a year earlier, when King delivered a lecture at the University of Hawaii. It was there that he met Rev. Abraham Akaka, the brother of future U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka.

In the lead-up to the third march, as President Lyndon Johnson was making preparations to protect the demonstrators with military policemen and the Alabama National Guard, Rev. Akaka sent gifts of bright white lei from the Pacific Ocean to the Deep South to be draped on the marchers.

For the reverend, it was a symbolic gesture that affirmed Asian-American support for the civil rights movement.

Now, 50 years later, Lewis and Hawaii native Obama will join Asian-American lawmakers Sen. Mazie Hirono and Rep. Mark Takai, among nearly 100 lawmakers, to pay homage to the civil rights movement and “Bloody Sunday.”

Dozens of marchers will be wearing white double carnation lei, the same kind that Rev. Akaka delivered to King and Lewis for that fateful march a half century before.

I will honor the men and women who risked their lives in the name of equality on Bloody Sunday by presenting civil rights leaders with flower leis, just as Rev. Abraham Kahikina Akaka did during the third Selma march in 1965,” Hirono said Thursday.

The marches led by King and Lewis marked a turning point for civil rights that continues to have meaningful effects for minorities today, including Asian Americans.

As an ethnic minority, I am thankful for those that paved the way for the freedoms and liberties that all of us as Americans enjoy,” Takai said. “They suffered insults and physical harm, yet their spirit remained unbroken.”


Daily Beast: There Are No Asian-Americans In The Cabinet For The First Time Since 2000


There Are No Asian-Americans In The Cabinet For The First Time Since 2000


For the first time in 15 years, there won’t be an Asian American in the president’s Cabinet. But Asian American groups don’t seem to mind.
The resignation of Veteran Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki means that for the first time since the Clinton administration that there will be no Asian American members of the Cabinet, a marked shift for a minority community that was once disproportionately overrepresented.It’s a shift that might have prompted an outpouring of concern if it had occurred to any other minority group, but has been in this case been greeted with nonchalance within the Asian American community.

This reaction speaks to the very notion of how Asian Americans view themselves in the 21st century—having largely scorned racial identity politics. Shinseki himself was not known for involvement in Asian-American groups, and by all accounts did not seem to pay particular interest to them.

The uninterest in the issue also demonstrates the lack of Asian American political power in 2014. Though they represent roughly 6 percent of the country’s population, the community is dispersed across a series of different ethnicities, languages and cultures.


For the Asian-American community today, the appointment of a Cabinet official of their ethnic background is useful less as an accomplishment to cite, and more as a safeguard against those who might take the community seriously.

The underrepresentation of Asians in Congress and now the highest rungs of the Obama administration reflects the failure of Asian Americans to more aggressively demand that their seat at the table be held by someone who looks like them. Asian-American groups have not tended to demand representation on the basis of race.

I’m hesitant to [call for the president to] appoint them because of their race,” said Susan Allen, the president of the US Pan Asian Chamber of Commerce. “There are [non-Asian] politicians who are very good to Asian-Americans, particularly those who have lived in Asia.”

In 2009, Asian Americans in the Cabinet included Shinseki, Nobel Prize-winning Energy Secretary Steven Chu, and former Washington Gov. Gary Locke. At that point, Christopher Lu held the position of Cabinet secretary, a senior position that involves coordinating between Cabinet members and the White House.

Chu left the administration in 2013, Locke went on to become Ambassador to China, and then resigned this year. Lu was confirmed to be the Deputy Secretary for the Department of Labor in April.

There are still high-ranking Asian Americans in the president’s administration: Lu remains a senior agency official, and the First Lady’s chief of staff, Tina Chen, is Asian American. Rhea Suh, another member of the community, is the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget at the Department of the Interior.

According to the order of precedence, a formal protocol list meant to establish ceremonial hierarchies in the government, Shinseki’s departure means that Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI), who was elected in 2012 after serving three terms in the House of Representatives, is now the highest-ranking Asian American public official in the United States.

Hirono is followed on that list by Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC) and Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) and then by a number of Asian American U.S. representatives.

Among the many names being flung around Washington, D.C., as candidates for Shinseki’s replacement, only one Asian American is a plausible choice: Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), a veteran who was the former Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs. As a U.S. Army helicopter pilot, she lost both of her legs in combat during the Iraq War.

Shinseki’s resignation over a scandal involving VA hospital wait times didn’t involve race, and there is little interest among Asian-American activists in politicizing that issue.

Regardless of ethnicity, I think the president needs to find someone who can address the situation at the VA and do right by all veterans,” said Jason Chung, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee on Asian American community engagement. “Otherwise it’s going to be on the president, and that has nothing to do with whether he appoints an Asian-American, African-American or Latino to the post.”

For the Asian American community today, the appointment of a Cabinet official of their ethnic background is useful less as an accomplishment to cite, and more as a safeguard against those who might not take the community seriously.

I would like to see an Asian-American in the Cabinet—but one who is qualified, and who can say, ‘I am firstly an American who happens to have Asian heritage,’” Allen said. “It has symbolic value, because there are still narrow-minded people who will look down on us if they don’t see someone like us in a position of power.


Check out this link:


Drink like a world leader with the $10 sake President Obama and Prime Minister Abe shared


RocketNews 24:


OS 1

During his visit to Tokyo, American President Barack Obama stepped out for a bite to eat with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Sukibayashi Jiro, widely held to be one of the finest sushi restaurants in the world. As you’d expect from their lofty positions, Sukibayashi Jiro isn’t an eatery for ordinary folks, what with its months-long reservation waiting list and set courses that cost 30,000 yen (US$294) yet only an amount of food that can be polished off in just 15 minutes.

And what about the sake the two leaders drank together? Surely, that must be an equally rarified brew, far out of the price range of anyone who isn’t the most powerful individual in his or her country. You probably even need a direct connection with someone in the industry to buy some, right?

Nope. Not only can you score a bottle for less than 10 bucks, but you can order it online right now.

While the two heads of state enjoyed a tipple in downtown Tokyo, their sake actually comes from the other side of the country. The brewer is Hiroshima Prefecture’s Kamotsuru. While their product recently graced the cup of Japan’s prime minister, Kamotsuru’s history stretches back to when Japan was still ruled by a shogun, as the company was founded in 1623.

▼ The Kamotsuru brewery

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Thanks to the distinctive square-based bottle Prime Minister Abe is seen pouring from, it didn’t take long for sake aficionados to discern that the specific brew the two were drinking is Kamotsuru’s Diginjo Tokusei Gold, which the brewer later confirmed through its website. Kamotsuru proudly states that the Diginjo Tokusei Gold is the finest representation of its techniques and traditions, made with water drawn from subterranean sources in Hiroshima’s northern Takahara highlands.


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Daiginjo Tokusei Gold is highly esteemed, having received more than 95 awards for its flavor since 1970. According to its maker, the sake has a refined aroma, with a rich, full flavor, and is best served chilled or at room temperature.

Kamotsuru also claims to be the first brewer to think of adding decorative flakes of gold to its sake, and as you pour the Daiginjo Tokusei Gold into your glass, you’ll see cherry blossom-shaped gold leaves floating in your beverage.


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Even more surprising than this clever visual design point, though, is the price. Kamotsuru sells the Daiginjo Tokusei Gold through its website here, with prices starting at just 1,378 yen (US$13.50) for a set of two 180 milliliter (6.1 ounce) bottles.


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With prices like that, Kamotsuru’s sake can be enjoyed by anyone, even if the only seat of power you have is the sofa in your living room.

Sources: LivedoorKamotsuru


Check out this link:

Drink like a world leader with the $10 sake President Obama and Prime Minister Abe shared


President Obama plays soccer with Japanese robot ASIMO

President Barack Obama briefly plays soccer with Honda‘s humanoid robot ASIMO during his recent trip to Japan.

ASIMO, which is an acronym for Advanced Step in Innovative MObility, was designed as an assistant to those who lack full mobility and regularly appears in demonstrations around the world


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.”


Check out this link: 

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

Obama to nominate Todd Kim to DC Court of Appeals



President Barack Obama said on Friday will nominate Todd Sunhwae Kim to serve on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

The president said he was confident Kim could take over successfully for former Judge Kathryn A. Oberly.

Todd Sunhwae Kim has proven himself to be not only a first-rate legal mind but a faithful public servant,” President Obama said in a statement. “It is with full confidence in his ability, integrity, and independence that I nominate him to serve on the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.”

The D.C. Judicial Nomination Commission initially accepted 11 applicants for the position in October 2013, and narrowed the number to three potential candidates in December 2013.

Kim currently serves as the first Solicitor General for the District of Columbia, a position to which he was appointed in 2006.

Todd Kim received his undergraduate degree in biology from Harvard College in 1995 and his law degree from Harvard Law School in 1997.

As the first Solicitor General of the District of Columbia, Kim oversees appellate litigation for the D.C. Court of Appeals, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and the U.S. Supreme Court. Prior to his appointment to Solicitor General, Kim served as an appellate attorney with the Justice Department’s environment and national resources division, practicing extensively before each of the 13 federal appellate courts.

Kim was the first contestant on the ABC game show Who Wants to be a Super Millionaire in 2004, on which he reached the million-dollar question but decided to walk away with $500,000.

Check out this link:

Obama to nominate Todd Kim to DC Court of Appeals


President Obama to nominate Asian American to Deputy Cabinet Secretary


Chris Lu, a former aide to President Barack Obama and onetime Sidley Austin lawyer, is the president’s nominee for the No. 2 post at the U.S. Department of Labor, the White House announced Wednesday.

Obama intends to nominate Lu as the successor to Deputy Secretary of Labor Seth Harris, who is leaving the agency next week to be a distinguished scholar at the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations. Harris has served as the department’s second in command since May 2009, and was the agency’s acting head last year between the resignation of Secretary Hilda Solis in January 2013 and the swearing in of Secretary Thomas Perez in July.

Chris Lu has also served as Co-Chair of White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Asian American advocates have lobbied President Obama to fill undersecretary positions with Asian Americans as a way of grooming them for a cabinet post.

Lu all but confirmed the expected nomination on his Twitter account this afternoon tweeting:

Honored by trust placed in me by President & @LaborSec. Grateful to @MrSethHarrisfor his friendship and service. Very big shoes to fill

— Chris Lu (@ChrisLu44) January 8, 2014

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President Obama to nominate Asian American to Deputy Cabinet Secretary