Blog: Seen from Japan, Obama Plays Favorites in State of the Union . . . Again

Posted by manzai on February 6, 2012

In his State of the Union address last week, President Obama made no real mention of Japan, suggesting that the economically-stagnant country in Asia has nothing appealing to offer for the US President, who was desperately emphasizing his accomplishments during his first term, Japanese news agency, Jiji Press, reported. This was actually the third consecutive year that Obama has ignored Japan in his annual message.

To be precise, Obama did name-check Tokyo once in his speech, but that was merely in the context of one of the locations where global leaders reside. His counterparts "from Tokyo to Berlin; from Cape Town to Rio" still feel America is vigorous and are eager to work with the United States, he said.

By contrast, Obama mentioned China four times in his third address to the nation on topics such as manufacturing, trade, and new energy, and he named South Korea as one of the nations that signed a free trade agreement with the United States in 2011, saying that the move helped increase US exports to the region.

While Japan did not get a shout-out from President Obama, Japan's media was surprised to see that Japanese entrepreneur Hiroyuki Fujita got some recognition at the State of the Union speech: a founder of a medical device manufacturing firm in Ohio, Fujita was one of 24 guests who were granted seats of honor.

An immigrant from Japan, Fujita is among the researchers who developed MRI technology. His company, Quality Electrodynamics LLC, became the world's largest manufacturer of detectors used in magnetic resonance imaging machines just five years after it was founded, reported Japan's semi-public broadcaster NHK.

From my vantage point, it seems that President Obama wanted to show that he put great emphasis on job creation by inviting Fujita, a Japanese entrepreneur who has hugely contributed to creating manufacturing jobs in the US market, instead of mentioning Japan as America's great partner.

— Miki Anzai, Associate Editor, JMD&MT

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