February 07, 2007

Famous foreign face

What foreign face shows up the most on the news in Japan these days? I usually have NHK on the TV all afternoon, or at least for Good Morning Japan. It's one of the better morning news show (imagine if Good Morning America were produced by the PBS NewHours guys), though it comes on at 3:00 pm MST.

At least judging by the coverage on Good Morning Japan, the answer is (by a landslide) . . . Christopher Hill. He's Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, repping the U.S. at the "Six Party Talks" with North Korea. Seriously, if Christopher Hill stops to tie his shoelaces, it makes the news.

And you think we're concerned about North Korea. As Tip O'Neill famously said, "All politics is local." Same for news coverage. Especially when Pyongyang is only about as far from Tokyo as Washington, D.C. is from Chicago.

Of course, since these types of international negotiations typically move at the speed of a lethargic turtle, the requisite "Christopher Hill" sound bite has turned into "meaninglessly reassuring diplomatic answer to meaninglessly redundant foreign correspondent question of the day."

But he's always very pleasant about it. Calm, well-spoken, to the point (when there is one), and, well, diplomatic. As far as public faces go, the U.S. government couldn't ask for a better one.

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