Meeting Prime Minister Abe

This has felt like a very uneven month to me. I was in the U.S. from July 2-29, so a bit less than a clean month. I was over jet lag for two of those weeks, and now I’m right back in the thick of it. As I was in the midst of it—my body biking through the lush, crisp Chicago summers while my brain was still oppressed by the heat and humidity of Tokyo—former Prime Minister Abe was assassinated.

I’ve written previously about suffering duel disasters while separated from Japan and New Orleans, and this felt similar in some way. I have my fingers crossed that there’s not a parallel event now that I’m back in Japan. We’ve had enough black swan events in the past three years for a decade; settle down, now, universe.

I wrote about my run-in with PM Abe for the newsletter this month, and I’ll share the photo here.

I swear that I also have a photo with former PM Junichiro Koizumi. He visited Harvard my Junior fall, and they invited several of us who had just come back from a summer internship in Okayama to the welcome event. It was in the Faculty Club, and we were supposed to stand in a certain corner, where he’d come to greet us after his speech. The room was packed, like standing room only, with probably every Japanese enrolled in any program at Harvard, so after Koizumi said a few words (I remember he mentioned how excited he was to see the Patriots play that night, so it must’ve been a Monday afternoon), he was steered over to us. I remember kind of having to shout a few words or something, and once he’d shaken our hands, he audibled and veered out into the crowd of the room to do some gladhanding. Everyone was so excited he was there, except for the Secret Police—lots of talking into mics and adjusting to the quickly changing situation.

I basically went through all of my worldly possessions before this move, including the two files where I keep important photographs, and nothing with Koizumi came up, so I might just be imagining it. My stuff is now mostly with me here in Japan, other than a few boxes in St. Louis and New Orleans.

It still hasn’t sunk in that I’m back in Japan for the duration. Once I manage to get over this jet lag and rejoin my brain and body (a metaphor I’m totally cribbing from a William Gibson novel), I’ll be curious to see how things feel. Just a few months of summer left to endure.

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