Japanese Mayor Named 'Jo Baiden' Becomes Internet Sensation

The mayor of a small Japanese town has become an online star after internet users discovered that he has a name similar to that of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden.

Japanese internet users are going wild over the fact that the characters for Mayor Yutaka Umeda can be read as "Jo Baiden." The 73-year-old head of the small town of Yamato has received huge amounts of attention in recent days.

Mayor Yutaka Umeda, whose town only has 15,000 residents, had no idea he was trending on social media until his family told him the news on Friday.

Spelt in Kanji, the logographic Chinese characters used in the Japanese writing system, Umeda is pronounced "ume" and "da" but can also be read as "bai" and "den". And his other name, Yutaka, is read as "jo."

"I feel a sense of fate, but I'm a bit perplexed as this came suddenly," Umeda said, reported Japan Times.

"I feel very close to [President-elect Biden]" continued Umeda. "It feels as though I've also won the election after hearing about [his] projected win," he joked.

The Japanese Internet is getting a chuckle out of the mayor of Yamato in Kumamoto Prefecture, whose name, Umeda Yutaka (梅田穰), can be read with on-yomi (pronunciation derived from Chinese) as "Baiden Jou". https://t.co/oVDXp3WJLl

— Unseen Japan (@UnseenJapanSite) November 8, 2020

Umeda, first elected in February 2017, has welcomed the flurry of attention on social media and hopes it will help the world know of his little town in the southwestern prefecture of Kumamoto.

"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," said Umeda. "I'll fulfill my duties for the happiness of residents."

It's not the first time there has a peculiar name similarity in Japan with a president of the United States. The town of Obama, in Fukui Prefecture, gained a lot of attention around Barak Obama's historic win in 2008.

The town embraced it, and stuck posters of the U.S. politician on its lampposts, while Barack Obama-themed kitsch gifts emerged around the place, from souvenirs like T-shirts featuring his face, to Obama chopsticks.

In 2009, when President Obama made his stop in Japan during his first visit to Asia as president, he gave a nod to his namesake town. "And of course, I could not come here without sending my greetings and gratitude to the citizens of Obama, Japan," he said.

Joe Biden
President-elect Joe Biden gestures to a crowd Wilmington, Delaware. The race was called for Biden after a contentious election battle against incumbent Republican President Donald Trump. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images