Abe and Me

15/November/2022 in Tbilisi

More than 4 months passed since his death, but I still think about Abe

If I was always in Japan and never lived abroad, probably I wouldn't pay much attention to him and perhaps even to his death

For me, living abroad means a constant reminder of one simple fact: I'm Japanese

Whoever I meet, the first question is always the same

"Where are you from?"

My answer is always the same and I'm always treated as a Japanese

This sense feels much stronger in a country where Japanese/Asian is relatively rare, such as Balkans or Eastern/Central Europe

Before my individuality, that is, my unique existence as a person called Aki, always these concepts, "Japan" and/or "Japanese", come up between me and this non-Japanese person in front of me, just like a wall

A few years ago, when I didn't have enough experiences and realisations, this wall felt very bothering

Now I realised this is how it is in an inter-cultural communication and I'm not much bothered in most cases

But still one thing I'm often conscious of

which is, "As a Japanese, what kind of impression do I give?"

Very often I'm the first Japanese person for him/her and I feel some sort of "responsibility"

In a sense, this might be too much self-consciousness of mine

"This person must have some stereotypes about Japanese. I have to meet their expectations"

"My ancestor is a prideful Samurai, so I have to represent great courage and strength"

"I don't want my country/my people to be misunderstood by foreigners. I should pay a close attention to every words and moves of mine"

....blah blah blah

Obviously no need to have these overly exaggerating, almost silly, notions when interacting with a non-Japanese person

However, if each of us is a kind of a representative or "an ambassador" of one's own country in a foreign land, I'd like to give at least somewhat positive or nice first impressions about my country, especially if I'm the first Japanese person for him/her

This is undeniable, rather natural feeling for anyone who lives abroad, regardless of their country of origin

And this is when Abe comes across my mind

He was the prime minister and prime minister is an official representative of the country

During his prime minister period, I often saw him smiling before/while shaking hands with foreign representative

This friendly, amicable, likeable, rather soft attitude and face of Abe is what I still remember very often

A couple of days ago, I was walking with a Polish friend and out of blue he mentioned Abe

"What is the name of your prime minister...., why was he killed? He looked a very good person..., looked approachable"

I was a little surprised that even a person, who isn't Japanese and doesn't have an interest in political matters, still has such an impression of Abe

More than 4 months has passed since your death, but I still think about you

Probably I'll keep thinking about you as long as I'm abroad