Yutaka Umeda, who is the mayor of the small Japanese town of Yamato, became an internet sensation overnight after being told by his family that an alternate reading of his written name resembles that of President-elect Joe Biden.
Japanese script includes using characters borrowed from China called kanji that can be pronounced phonetically in a number of ways.
The mayor's family surname is comprised of characters 梅 and 田—meaning "plum" and "rice field"—and is pronounced "ume" and "da."
However, the kanji for Umeda can also be read as "bai" and "den."
Additionally, the single kanji for the mayor's first name, 穣, is pronounced Yutaka, but is also commonly read as "Jo."
Joe Biden victory also a win for Japanese mayor Jo Baiden https://t.co/BxrOz8cggc— CNET News (@CNET News) 1604958604.0
In fun language news… Yutaka Umeda, Mayor of Yamato #Japan, is now in the spotlight, as his name can be pronounced… https://t.co/LxTLrFbFVn— Andrew Crecelius (@Andrew Crecelius) 1605029442.0
According to Japan Times, the 73-year-old mayor said of Biden:
"I feel very close to him. It feels as though I've also won the election after hearing about (Democratic nominee Joe Biden's) projected win"
You can watch the video clip of the mayor responding to his online fame here.
@Reuters This is adorable! 😭— observer (@observer) 1605107214.0
So to clarify, the mayor is not "called" jō baiden. He's called Yutaka Umeda, but his name when written in the Japa… https://t.co/q7GjrLk6Sy— Sayadak Sir Gayatri Huby (@Sayadak Sir Gayatri Huby) 1604984134.0
@japantimes @ChrysLoretta Can't make this stuff up lol #2020— This_is_2020! (@This_is_2020!) 1605050055.0
@japantimes Hope you are a good, honest and kind man like your namesake. All the best— Pat D (@Pat D) 1604917068.0
@UnseenJapanSite @merodii07 Ah, yes. Baiden-san, the mayor of Yamato— FATHER REVEAL PARTY - AOT 134 (@FATHER REVEAL PARTY - AOT 134) 1604891943.0
@guardian @sidneyfussell I'm crying 😂 this is amazing— 😱❤️🧡💛💚💙💜😷🙏 (@😱❤️🧡💛💚💙💜😷🙏) 1605047422.0
@Reuters Oh that's just freakin adorable. 🥰— Krishna Vasikar (@Krishna Vasikar) 1605121516.0
Located in the Kamimashiki District, Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan, the town of Yamato has an estimated population of 15,771.
As the President-elect is set to move into the Oval Office in January 2021, Umeda hopes his town will gain a little exposure through his connection to Biden's name.
@UnseenJapanSite Going to see more traffic at 梅田 station— Jeremy Kitchen (@Jeremy Kitchen) 1604863531.0
Umeda, or Mayor Bai Den, added:
"Being the president of a superpower like the United States and a mayor of Yamato — the scale (of our jobs) is completely different, but I'd like to think of ways to promote the town."
@japantimes Aw bless I think it will put the town on the map.. two Jo Bidens!— Juliet Kennedy (@Juliet Kennedy) 1604908182.0
This is not the first time a Japanese city gained publicity tied to a Democratic President.
The town of Obama in Fukui prefecture made global headlines in 2008 because of the city's shared name with Biden's former running mate, Barack Obama, who at the time was running for and later became the President of the United States.
@japantimes It also reminds me of a Japanese town named Obama and it's reportedly the residents were thrilled when… https://t.co/jFiVBCpDSK— Sano Ray (@Sano Ray) 1604900817.0
During his first term in 2009, then-President Obama visited Obama, Japan, where he said in a speech:
"And of course, I could not come here without sending my greetings and gratitude to the citizens of Obama, Japan."