Wasabi Stories vol.97: “Sense of Humor”


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“Sense of Humor”

Today’s story teller is a professor of political science at Tokyo University, [W:Shinichi Kitaoka].

He was the former Japanese ambassador to the United Nations.

In the article, he talked about diplomacy and humor by giving some of his experiences.


[Episode 1] The United Nation

When the former Secretary-General, [W:Kofi Annan] was asked who should be chosen for the next Secretary-General, he said the person who has an “iron face” and a “great sense of humor”.

At that time, his son’s bribery scandal was brought up, and Annan himself was looked suspiciously.

Kitamura thought that Annan’s answer was a good one because it was like he saw through the situation.


[Episode 2] In Sudan

When he went to Sudan as a member of the inspection team of United Nations Security Council, he received a local folk-craft as a souvenir, where the British Ambassador said the Chinese Ambassador,


“May I ask an impolite question? Is this made in China?”


The Chinese Ambassador replied “No, it must be local craft” with an expressionless face while the others busted into laughter.


At that time Sudan government was accused by the world for some problem, and China advanced into Sudan for oil and always stood up for Sudan; therefore, China’s such action was also criticized.

Kitaoka thought that it was a great joke by seeing through the situation.


[Episode 3] At an assembling

When ambassadors of leading countries and their families assembled, an ambassador brought his wife and a teenage daughter.

While he introduced them to people “my wife and daughter”, another ambassador asked a question with a serious face.


“Pardon me for asking this but could you tell me which is your wife and which is your daughter?”


Kitaoka’s word

“I was impressed by the humor. Because the Japanese are too serious, there are only few of us who can say that much with humour.”


The NIKKEI Sept/10/2009  by Shinichi Kitaoka (a professor of political science at Tokyo University)



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