Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Visit To The White House Of Japan

Short note: I know the news of the visit of our PM to Japan is all over the news portals. But they were all written in a serious and factual tone, and they basically reported the same thing. So, this is my recollections on how the event unfolded, from my personal point of view, which I wrote it in a much lighter tone. So, please do not take the joke (if there's any) in this entry too seriously.

This is another event which shall go down as one of the highlights during my time in Japan so far.

It all began about a fortnight ago, when I got a forwarded email from the Embassy of Malaysia in Japan, which invited students and Malaysians who are living around the Kanto region, to attend a welcoming ceremony for our Prime Minister at Sori Kantei (総理官邸), the principal workplace of the Prime Minister of Japan. If you read the news, our Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is currently on a four-day visit to Tokyo, Japan from yesterday, at the invitation of Japanese Prime Minister, Yukio Hatoyama.

As for us, we were invited there basically to be the busybodies, and also to make the atmosphere to look more happening haha! So, we gathered at the embassy early that morning. Although I was the earliest person to reach there, but I didn't get any extra worms, which makes me wonder if the saying - early bird gets the worms, has any truth in it. Never mind-lah, I don't eat worms one haha!

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One of the representatives from the Kantei distributing emblem pins to us, which resembles the shape of the chrysanthemum blossom design.

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Ms. Siti Zaharah Omar, the Counsellor of the Human Resource Department briefing us on the itinerary for the event, and the important do's and don'ts, for example, never dig our nose before shaking hands with the PM lol!

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Camwhore session in the bus!

When everybody had arrived, we boarded the chartered bus, bound for the official residence of the Prime Minister in Chiyoda Ward in Tokyo. It wasn't that far away from the embassy; the ride was about fifteen minutes away.

Earlier that morning, while waiting for the cue to board the bus, we discussed among ourselves, what were we actually supposed to do when at the welcoming ceremony. Some said we might be put in-charge to arrange tables and chairs, but some had other idea. We might be asked to hold the national flags and wave them like five-year old kids lol!

Horror of all horror, the latter was exactly the thing we were told to do!

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That is the second road block the bus we boarded had to go through, before reaching the backyard of Sori Kantei.

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We were welcomed by the staffs and security officers upon reaching, which made us feel as if we were some VIPs haha!

Upon entering the complex from the backyard, we were kept at the car park area for approximately half and hour before the main event began. Those who brought their cameras along began snapping away, although it was just the car park area lol! But that place is somewhere where public don't get to access at any time as they like. So, we obviously didn't wanna waste the opportunity to camwhore there.

We saw two luxurious cars there, and everyone started to take pictures in front of the cars without even knowing whose cars were those. Some say it could be the Prime Minister car, some say it might just be the car of the security guards lol! But we didn't care much; everyone just snapped in front of the cars like jakun lol!

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With two of my seniors, Sean and Fong Zyin in front of that mysterious cars haha!

I guess we have snapped too many pictures for non-stop, because a staff later came to us and ask us to refrain from taking pictures at that car park already and also during the welcoming ceremony, due to security purposes. Sigh, so that's the most we could take pictures of the place - at the car park of the Kantei lol! Everyone reluctantly obeyed to his instruction and kept their cameras ... errrr ... temporarily.

Typical Malaysians lol!

Some time afterwards, the guards holding the national flag of Japan as well as Jalur Gemilang came out from a room, followed by the Guards of Honour and the band members.

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One of the guards, checking out if the Jalur Gemilang was held in the correct direction.

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Seeing them marching in unison reminded me of my scouting years.

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Tune fining Fine tuning their instruments before marching out.

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One of the kids in white sweater managed to give me a peace sign haha!

After being kept in the car park for about half an hour, we were the final group to walk out the garden, where the welcoming ceremony was held. We first walk along a walking way which was beautifully decorated with bamboo trees and stones, which are deemed the symbol of the Kantei.

Soon afterwards, we came to a huge garden, which has various kinds of trees, including cherry blossom tree, at all four corners of the garden. It was a typical Japanese garden, with small streams and stones, as well as some bonsai tree. Although the Kantei is located in the middle of the metropolitan, entering this garden give one that kind of relaxing feeling of being surrounded with greeneries.

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The staffs making sure everything in the garden was in place.

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That corner on the left was where we stood throughout the welcoming ceremony.

Prior to the commencement of the event, the army held a rehearsal session, just to make sure that everything would go according to plan. The band performed the national anthem of both countries, Negaraku of Malaysia, and Kimigayo of Japan. Subsequently, the chief commandant (I think) inspected the Guard of Honour.

While they were rehearsing, we watched the process excitedly with full attention, and once in a while, took time to camwhore. It was like a chain reaction, because when we started to notice one person took out the camera, one after another followed suit and in the end, the staff just let us take pictures freely, without bothering to stop us anymore haha!

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Making sure the line is straight.

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Not very sure if that guy was holding on a samurai sword.

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The head of the band was in full spirit, that he wanted to share his armpit odour with everyone in the garden haha!

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Tucking in the shirt properly for his colleague to make sure he look the most handsome guy at the garden.

Everything was in place and everyone was just waiting for the arrival of the VIPs.

Several staffs then walked to us and distributed paper flags, which we were supposed to wave them at during the welcoming ceremony. The Japan flag was printed on both sides, but the Jalur Gemilang wasn't. Perhaps our flag has too many different colours that they wanted to save on the ink, which prompted them to print the flag on one side only.

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Here comes the Japanese Cabinet ministers, waving their hands like celebrities haha!

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Acting Foreign Affairs Minister, Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim at far left, taking photos of his wife, Datin Seri Masnah Rais, perhaps meant to be posted up in his blog (and Facebook too, maybe) lol! Oh no, he doesn't have a Facebook account, does he?

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The full line-up of the ministers and officials from both countries.

Looking at them taking pictures like nobody's business just like us, it made us realised that they are also humans after all. The only difference is that they are elected by us, to represent the people to fight for our rights and welfare. No further comment on whether they are doing the right thing or not, because I will leave it to you to decide.

I am refering to the situation of both countries, because the government in Japan isn't that stable either. Hatoyama Yukio is the forth Prime Minister of Japan during my three years in Japan so far. The way Japan changes their Prime Minister is just so simple like we changes our clothes haha!

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Look who has arrived!

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And the kids got excited that they waved the flags so hard haha!

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Comparing the two Prime Ministers, it indirectly tells you one thing - Malaysian has too much of good food lol!

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After the national anthems were played, it was time for the inspection of the Guard of Honour.

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Poor quality of picture, because I took a snapshot from the video.

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The inspection of the Guard of Honour.

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Bowing in front of the flags of both nations, as a mark of respect.

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It was time for the introduction of the ministers and officials from both sides.

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The Prime Minister of Japan was being introduced to the Malaysian Ambassador to Japan, Datuk Shaharuddin Md Som and other embassy officials by Datuk Seri Najib.

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Hatoyama Yukio returned the favour by introducing his cabinet ministers to the Malaysian Prime Minister.

There was a funny moment earlier that morning, when we were waiting for the arrival of the VIPs at the garden. The kids were standing just beside us, and we heard them asking us if those representatives from Malaysia were our friends. I suggested to Ben, who was standing next to me to pick any one of the officials and tell the kids that that person is his grandpa haha!

According to the schedule, the Prime Ministers would return to the main building of the Kantei right after the introduction sessions, but we got lucky as they walked and spent some time to beramah mesra  (how do you say this word in English?) with us.

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The Prime Minister of Japan hardly carves a smile on his face; he looks serious almost all the time.

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I doubt these eleven-year-old kids recognise our Prime Ministers, because they don't even know the existence of Malaysia!

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The First Lady of Japan, Hatoyama Miyuki with Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor.

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We managed to have handshakes with the two Prime Ministers and the two First Ladies, that we decided not to wash our hands for the whole day lol!

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Both Prime Ministers leaving the ceremony for the bilateral meeting inside the main complex. 

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The Prime Ministers and the First Ladies of Japan and Malaysia in hand shakes at the end of the meeting.

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One final shot for at the garden, after the ceremony ended.

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Walked through the bamboo pathway on our way to the car park.

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We thought the ceremony ended there. But never did we expect that the First Lady of Japan, Miyuki Hatoyama would sneak out from a backdoor 
to have a short chatting session with us!

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She was more than happy to accept our request to have a group photo together. (Picture credit: Chai Ei)  

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Another group shot, this time in a much bigger group! (Picture credit: Elyas Fauzi)

People always say that the first impression in very important because they leave a lasting memory on us. This is my first meeting (and possibly the only one) with the First Lady of Japan, and I find that she is such a friendly and down-to-earth person. Dressed in such simple attire with a noticeable sweet smile all the time, one wouldn't expect that she is the wife of the Prime Minister of Japan. I think the majority of the ministers and VIPs in Malaysia should learn from her.

In a nutshell, although I had to sacrifice my morning sleep, make a return-trip of more than two hours between Chiba and Tokyo, and rushed back to Chiba after the event to attend my class after the lunch break, when the whole event lasted only less than half an hour, it was one of the rare opportunity of to be able to witness a historical moment and also to enter the official residence of the Prime Minister of Japan. I bet not many people can tell their friends that they have visited Sri Perdana (I have never visited the place myself), what's more Sori Kantei in Tokyo.

Tonight, I will join other Malaysians to have a dinner with the Prime Minister of Malaysia in Tokyo. How cool is that?

19 comments:

sakura said...

first!

haha, well i was just taking a break from my assignments and studies for exam,so i decided to browse around.. all the serious news r not really helping me to release my stress though :p

saw the news on the PM's visit to Japan.. and u're sooooo lucky to be part of tat historic moment.. well, u're just so... lucky! (can't think of other words d) haha..

CLF said...

hahah definitely one of the post I enjoyed reading over and over again lol. the settings, people seems to be familiar.
great opportunity it is!

P/S: The car, Toyota Century is one of the most expensive Toyota though it's old-fashioned. Conservative Japanese huh....
masih ada cars' pics?

kesenaitsumi89 said...

LOL. That is really COOL! I wanna go for the dinner too ^^

Baby^Girl said...

行きたいけど。。。。
うらやましい!
まぁ。。シェアしてくれてありがとう!
ちなみに、鳩山総理の奥様の髪型。。私とちょっとにてない?
って思った。。。(笑)
面白くないよね。。
まぁ

Anonymous said...

This is sexy!!!!!!!! Hell ya Malaysia!!!


Zen.
Mv_HitoSp@hotmail.com

another ordinary Malaysian in Japan. :)

kae vin said...

So happy. So have you thought of the after dinner chat topic with PM? :P

CLF said...

oh yeah will be looking for ur post on tonight's dinner soon!

Extreme Power said...

Nice one man. Boleh!

Reeny said...

its 'fine tuning' not 'tune fining' the instruments :P

sheryl0202 said...

must blog about the dinner ok haha

calvin said...

@ sakura:
yes, this kind of opportunity doesn't come often, and i consider me and the bunch of us who was there were really lucky to witness that ceremony =)

calvin said...

@ clf:
i know that kind of feeling; it's when we are able to somehow relate something to ourself because they are very familiar to us.

that two cars were the only two cars we spotted in the car park, because we weren't allowed to wander around the place. nice spot-on, anyway ;)

calvin said...

@ kesenaitsumi89:
yup, it was great to be able to shake hands with the two premiers =D

calvin said...

@ baby^girl:
haha! yea, her hairstyle looks very similar to you. but you look more pretty than her =P

calvin said...

@ kae vin:
nope, there's not gonna be possible for me to personally direct any questions to the pm during the dinner, unless i get to sit on the same table as him >.<

calvin said...

@ clf:
yeah, it's a little late, but i plan to finish up the entry by tonight!

calvin said...

@ extreme power:
taiping boleh! xD

calvin said...

@ reeny:
thanks for the mentioning. i've corrected it ;)

calvin said...

@ shery0202:
yeah, that's for sure!