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Mother of Koji: Saudis turn to social media and anime memories to welcome Japanese ambassador’s wife to kingdom

A handout picture released by the official Facebook page of the Embassy of Japan in Iraq on March 21, 2018 shows Japanese Ambassador Fumio Iwai riding in a pick-up truck during a handover ceremony of vehicles provided by Japan to the Iraqi police at an unspecified location in Iraq.  (AFP)
A handout picture released by the official Facebook page of the Embassy of Japan in Iraq on March 21, 2018 shows Japanese Ambassador Fumio Iwai riding in a pick-up truck during a handover ceremony of vehicles provided by Japan to the Iraqi police at an unspecified location in Iraq. (AFP)
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09 Apr 2021 02:04:49 GMT9
09 Apr 2021 02:04:49 GMT9

Arab News Japan

The Japanese Ambassador to Saudi Arabia’s wife Mrs. Iwai, fondly nicknamed Um Koji, has been welcomed in Riyadh with humor and style.

After Ambassador Iwai Fumio posted a tweet welcoming his wife to the country, many Saudis responded with greetings and memes of anime character Grendizer, as her son’s name is similar to a famous character from the show.

The envoy’s tweet said: “My wife arrived in Riyadh safely last night. She and our daughter were staying with me in Saudi Arabia 10 years ago, and I am sure that she, like me, will admire the many remarkable changes that occurred in the Kingdom during her absence, and I wish for ‘Um Koji’ to enjoy her time in Saudi Arabia among kind people.”

In Arabic, “Um” means mother, and traditionally, mothers and fathers are called using the prefix “Um” or “Abu” and then the eldest son’s name, in this instance “Um Koji” or “mother of Koji.”

Koji is a popular anime character around the world, but especially in Saudi Arabia, where the animated series “Grendizer” was a staple cartoon in Arab households during the 1980s and 1990s.  

The Japanese animation was dubbed into Arabic and had a specially produced Arabic theme song.

Iwai, who gained more popularity thanks to his fluency in Arabic, received many messages dubbing him as “Abu Koji” or “Father of Koji.”

One Saudi Twitter user, Dr. Naif, responded to the ambassador’s post saying: “Greetings to Um Koji” along with a picture of the animated character.

Another Saudi social media user tweeted Iwai to inform him that most people in Saudi Arabia were first introduced to the name Koji through “Grendizer.”

The post said: “Praise be to God for the safety of Um Kuji, Mr. Ambassador, and I would like to inform you that the Saudis knew the name Koji for the first time from this character.”

Iwai replied to this tweet saying: “This person is more famous than my eldest son Koji.”

A third Twitter user, Mohammed Al-Fal, warmly welcomed Iwai’s wife: “Welcome to the Kingdom of humanity, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which has is linked excellent relations with Japan based on fruitful cooperation to enhance international peace and security, away from interference in the internal affairs of both countries. Japan is a miracle that all the people of the East are proud of, especially the Saudis.” 

Iwai responded with: “I thank you very much for your welcome and kind words about the distinguished relations between my country, Japan, and Saudi Arabia.”

Iwai was appointed as the new ambassador to Saudi Arabia at the beginning of the year. He previously worked in the Kingdom as the deputy ambassador in Riyadh 10 years ago.

Before moving to Saudi Arabia, he was Tokyo’s envoy to Iraq, and was known for his great Arabic communication skills in local dialects, making him a popular figure.

Read more: A Grendizer movie? It’s a ‘Go,’ says Nagai, creator of the famous Japanese anime

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