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On the Trail: FOREIGN MEDIA

World comes to watch

August 29, 2008|Kate Kraft

The nomination of Barack Obama isn't just America's story. More than 2,000 foreign journalists flocked to Denver to cover the Democratic National Convention.

The reason for the foreign fascination? In part, it's the drama of American democracy.

"Japanese people are more interested in this election than in domestic elections," said Fumitaka Susami, a political correspondent with Japanese news agency Kyodo News, which sent 23 staffers to Denver.

"The ruling party in Japan [has been] in power 50 years, so no power-changing in Japan," he said in halting English, referring to the Liberal Democratic Party.

Susami said the Japanese public was more enchanted with Hillary Rodham Clinton, defeated by Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination, than with the Illinois senator.

The "race factor is not familiar with Japanese people," he said, but the primary-season enthusiasm over the possibility of the first woman president was "more understandable."

In Brazil, said reporter Jose Meirelles Passos of the newspaper O Globo, there is great interest in Obama. "Brazil has a large black population, creating empathy," said Passos, who has covered American politics for 21 years.

In addition, the election matters to Brazilian readers, he said, because "everything that happens here affects our country. . . . It's a globalized world."

-- Kate Kraft

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