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Japan’s Obama town backs namesake

It may not quite be the party planned by Barack Obama's home city of Chicago, but a Japanese town named Obama is pulling out the stops in the hope its adopted son will win the White House next week.

world Updated: Oct 29, 2008 23:57 IST

It may not quite be the party planned by Barack Obama's home city of Chicago, but a Japanese town named Obama is pulling out the stops in the hope its adopted son will win the White House next week.

This ancient fishing town of 32,000 people — Obama means "small shore" in Japanese — has been rooting for the Democratic senator from Illinois ever since he became a viable candidate for the American presidency.

What started as a small, tongue-in-cheek “Obama for Obama” campaign earlier this year has brought a rare media spotlight to this town on the Sea of Japan (East Sea) — and since turned into a townwide passion.

Banners with Obama 's picture hang on lampposts across the town, where a statue of the senator clad in a Stars and Stripes necktie and a Japanese-style headband that says “I love Obama” now greets residents and visitors.

A year ago, the world of US politics was far from the minds of most residents here. But now they plan to hold a watch party on November 5 when, accounting for the time zone difference, the election results will come in.

Some 50 Obama residents are honing their skills in hula dancing, hoping to put on an Election Day show in tribute to Obama's original home of Hawaii. The "Obama girls" even travelled to Honolulu to take part in a competition.

“His name is the same as the City of Obama so I'm naturally sympathetic towards him. But I also like him very much,” said dancer Kiyomi Takahashi, wearing an "I Love Obama" T-shirt.

Satoru Wada, one of the few men in the dance troupe, said he wished he were performing before more than just pictures of the Democratic candidate for the White House. “I would like to dance together with him,” said Wada.