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Column: Reunion with a former student

  • April 15, 2018
  • , Tokyo Shimbun , p. 1
  • JMH Translation

Aaron Snipe, 46, who is in charge of national security policy at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, received a phone call two years ago. “I’m Oyama in Kagoshima. I saw your ‘Koi Dance’ video.”


The phone call (the voice on the line was tense) was from  Kentaro Oyama, a 35-year-old company employee who lives in Akune City, Kagoshima Prefecture. He was Snipe’s student 20 years ago. [When Snipe received the phone call], a video [created by the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo] featuring (then) U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy and embassy staff performing the “Koi Dance,” which was popular on TV, was the talk of the town. In the video Snipe was singing, doing an impersonation of singer Gen Hoshino.


Snipe was assigned to Kagoshima from 1997 to 1999 under the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program, in which local governments invite young people from overseas. After graduating from law school, Snipe chose not to become a lawyer and instead taught English in Japan, a country he had longed to visit, despite opposition from those around him.


Snipe later became a diplomat in the U.S. and from about four years ago has been living in Japan once again. He is busy dealing with the North Korea situation and building relations between U.S. Forces Japan and its Japanese hosts. “Even though I’ve been busy with tough jobs, I remember my life in Kagoshima and the beautiful landscape there,” Snipe says.


This summer Snipe will visit Kagoshima for the first time in 20 years to meet Oyama. Both Snipe and Oyama have become fathers. Snipe says, “Even though we’ve lived different lives, I’m very happy that we will be able to meet again.” Snipe is eagerly looking forward to viewing Mt. Sakurajima and drinking shochu with Oyama.


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