Latest … from Japan (and President Obama discusses his gray hair with the Emperor)

Subject: Pool report #2



The motorcade entered the Imperial Palace through an ornate gate and moved across an asphalt courtyard, traversing a bridge across a moat and climbing a hill past Imperial Guards in dress uniforms.


It pulled up at the welcoming ceremony.


Inside the palace, which was quiet and calm, are long corridors with a thick taupe carpet, with Japanese style shades on the windows. Climbing towards the meeting room where Potus met the Emperor, we passed a vast sea mural with waves breaking across dark rocks.


The meeting was held in an elegant room which was empty but for a few ornate chairs along the side and three chairs set up for the Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko and Emperor and the president and two for translators set slightly behind.


One knock on the door heralded the arrival of the Emperor and Empress and the President, who walked slowly into the room behind a courtier.


They sat down together and the president, leaning forward in his chair, began the conversation.


“I hope you and your family are well,” he said, before pausing for translation.


“I have very fond memories of our last meeting four years ago.


“We are pleased to welcome you,” the Emperor said as his wife looked on, smiling.


The president told the Emperor that the last time they met, he did not have any gray hairs.


“You have a very hard job,” the Emperor replied.


As the pool moved out, the president was talking about the work early in his presidency to stabilize the world financial system.


In the corner of the room was a table with what appeared to be visitor’s books and something that looked like a picture covered by piece of felt that could have been a gift. There was also an elegant gray vase on the table as well as a picture of the Emperor and Empress.






Stephen Collinson

AFP White House Correspondent