The Japanese have a unique relationship with the United States, and many are fascinated with our culture, from Hollywood to classic cars to cool "American" bands like Pink Floyd and the Rolling Stones. (Just as it can be hard to differentiate Japanese, Chinese and Korean culture from the West, Britan and the U.S. tend to run together in the minds of Japanese people.) The father of one of my son's friends is a connoisseur of American World War II films, and I had a group of students who regularly toured the U.S. on Harley Davidsons, which is a pretty cool thing to do. Sadly, some Japanese who go to the U.S. don't come back, which happened with the sister of a former homestay student, who went to Nebraska to study English only to die in an unfortunate car accident. This week marks the 20th anniversary of the death of Yoshihiro Hattori, the Japanese high school student who was shot and killed when he mistakenly approached the wrong home while on his way to a Halloween party, certainly something that should not happen to anyone in any country. The event shocked and saddened Japan and burned the word "freeze" onto its collective psyche for all time, and I still remember the emergency "survival English conversation lessons" my school had me teach in the weeks after the shooting.
The Japanese love the USA, but sometimes there is sadness.