Tokyo, April 24: "I want to be a bridge between Japanese and foreigners”, said Yogendra Purani, a 41 year old Indian origin Japanese, after being elected to Tokyo's Edogawa Ward assembly, marking the first Indian to win an election in Japan.
Yogi, as he is fondly called, a naturalised Japanese, secured 6,477 votes, the fifth highest of the 2,26,561 valid ballots cast, in the April 21 poll. The said elections were a part of unified local elections held across Japan.
"I want to be an assemblyman who can connect everyone regardless of nationality, age, or even disabilities, through my 20 years of living in Japan”, he said backed by the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan.
“Edogawa Ward has the highest number of Indian residents among Tokyo's 23 wards with 4,300 or so Indian nationals registered, accounting for more than 10 per cent of Indians living in Japan. Over 34,000 Indians live in Japan. The Edogawa Ward also has a large number of Chinese and Koreans”, the statement informs.
Yogi first arrived in Japan in 1997 when he was a university student in India. He returned two years later to study, and in 2001 came back to work as an engineer. He later worked for a bank and other companies, and has resided in Edogawa Ward since 2005, it added further.
"Japan is neat and everyone was kind," Yogi said, recalling his early experiences.
Yogi felt his ties with Japan had strengthened after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster while visiting affected areas on weekends to cook curry with Indian friends from Edogawa Ward to share with victims.
It was during these trips and chatting with Japanese while preparing food dishes that Yogi felt a strong affinity with this country. "I felt the time had come for me to become Japanese”, Yogi recalled on his victory.