Next time you visit Japan, don't be surprised if a friendly native replies to your greeting with "Tonight is a particular honor for me because, let's face it, my presence on this stage is pretty unlikely." Sound familiar? You must be watching a lot of CNN because the aforementioned phrase was originally uttered by the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama.
You'd hear that phrase and many other such oratorial nuggets in Japan because tens of thousands of Japanese are polishing up their English skills by listening to the former Illinois senator's speeches. "The Speeches of Barack Obama" sold 420,000 copies within 2 months of its November 20, 2008 release date - a big deal in a country where foreign-language publications rarely sell more than 20,000.
What's the secret behind the popularity of "The Speeches of Barack Obama"? Explains Yuzo Yamamoto, an official with publisher Asahi Press, "We don't publish every single president's speeches." Yamamoto, who perhaps unintentionally has a great sense of humor, continued by asking "Would you buy the text of former President George W. Bush's speeches?"
Obama is extremely popular in Japan but Yamamoto's point is valid regardless: Copy-catters hoping to capitalize on Asahi Press's success with a similar offering aimed at German-language students might pause for thought before publishing "The Speeches of Adolf Hitler". (via TokyoMango and Huffington Post)