Japan’s ‘Jo Baiden’ becomes overnight internet sensation

Joe Biden’s election victory has brought an improbable moment of celebrity to a local politician in Japan.

a group of people walking down a street: Photograph: Kiichiro Sato/AP

© Provided by The Guardian
Photograph: Kiichiro Sato/AP

Yutaka Umeda, 73, the mayor of Yamato, a small town in the south-west of the country, has become an overnight internet sensation after it was noticed that the kanji characters used to write his name can also be pronounced “Jo Baiden”.

He reportedly had no idea that people had made the connection between his and Biden’s name until his family told him he was trending on social media.

“I feel very close to him”, a “perplexed” Umeda said, according to the Kyodo news agency. “It feels as though I’ve also won the election.”

Kanji characters, which originated in China, often have several phonetic readings.

The mayor’s surname 梅田 – comprising two characters meaning “plum” and “field” – can be read as “ume” and “da,” but

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