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Since March 11 I have been reporting on the earthquake and disaster in East Japan. Because it takes a lot of time to post updates in iKjeld.com, I have been posting brief updates on my facebook page.
Election day has finally come to Japan. Although Japanese election campaigns only last for two weeks, this time it felt like it lasted several years. Since the Democratic Party Japan (DPJ) won a majority in the Upper House in July 2007, expectations have been rising for an opposition victory in the more powerful Lower House, still controlled by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).
The streets in Ashiya, a small town bordering Kobe, are surprisingly quiet. “It is like New Year’s Day,” says a young mother wearing a mask. “This is to protect my daughter,” she explains as she points at her mask. “She is at home as her school is closed all week.” As the H1N1 flu is now spreading much faster as authorities had expected, more than 4000 schools were closed in Hyogo and Osaka prefectures. Many museums and companies followed suit, leaving streets and trains far more quiet than is usual for a week day.
It is frightfully quiet in the former elementary school in the historical town of Kyoto. Yet the corridors and former classrooms are crowded with people. Some one hundred men and women from young to old, sit, stand and lay reading manga. This is the Kyoto International Manga Museum and it is incredibly popular. Only two years old, the museum has already welcomed half a million visitors.
On November 5th, 2008 the small Japanese town of Obama celebrated Senator Barack Obama’s historical election as the next US President. Local shops sold everything from Obama t-shirts to Obama Burgers. A hula dance group did a victory dance.