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In robot summit, Obama bows to and plays soccer with ASIMO


TOKYO (AP) -- The voice was slightly halting, childlike. "Welcome to Miraikan, Mr. President, it is a pleasure to meet you."

President Barack Obama bowed, looking delighted.

His greeter, after all, was a 55-inch-tall, give or take, humanoid robot with the look of a diminutive Star Wars storm trooper.

"It's nice to meet you, too," Obama said, pausing to watch the robot, named ASIMO, perform during a tour of the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation.

Despite Obama's background in constitutional law, there's a presidential geek side that always seems charmed, if not bemused, by technological advances.

Asimo, made by Honda, announced "I can really run fast" before loping toward a soccer ball and informing Obama, "I can kick a soccer ball, too."

The robot delivered a well-aimed ball at Obama who trapped it neatly with his foot. For its final demonstration, the robot declared, "Recently I have learned how to jump." It then proceeded to hop, first on one foot, then on two.

Curious, Obama asked Mamoru Mohri, chief executive director of Miraikan, whether the robot was remote controlled. Yes, Mohri replied, but the robot can act autonomously, too.

Obama also witnessed demonstrations by other robots, including one designed by Japanese technicians and partially financed by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency that was developed to help with disaster response.

"I have to say the robots were a little scary," he said afterward. "They were too life-like."


After holding a news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Obama met with the three relatives of two Japanese citizens who were abducted by North Korea.

At the news conference, Obama said the United States stood with Japan in seeking to resolve such North Korean kidnappings and in a statement issued after the session with relatives, the White House said Obama was "moved by their tragic experiences."

Later, the relatives said Obama, as father of two daughters, showed empathy over the kidnapping of their loved ones. He said he would do his utmost to resolve the problem, possibly by adopting a U.N. Security Council resolution to pressure the North.

As father of two teenage daughters, Obama seemed particularly empathetic to Sakie Yokota, 78, whose daughter Megumi was kidnapped by North Korean agents 37 years ago when she was only 13. Yokota said Obama carefully looked at the pictures she brought and seemed to understand the pain of waiting such a long time.

"President Obama said it's not just another political or human rights issue. He said he cannot tolerate this problem as a human being and a father," Yokota told reporters after the meeting. "He reassured us that he would give us a firm support to resolve the problem."


Of prayer cards and archers.

Obama visited the Meiji Shrine that commemorates Emperor Meiji, who died in 1912, and his wife Empress Shoken. The shrine has been something of a regular stop for visiting U.S. dignitaries.

Then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went to the shrine in 2009 and Vice President Joe Biden stopped there in 2011. President George W. Bush visited in 2002.

Like Bush, Obama was treated to a demonstration of yabusame, or horseback archery, where archers in traditional dress ride past a reviewing stand at a gallop while shooting arrows at a target. Obama watched

Moments earlier, Obama had toured the shrine with priests and then written on a prayer card. After hanging it with numerous other cards, a priest removed it, apparently out of fear that someone would take it.

"My only question is," Obama said to the priest, "will my wish still work if you take it?"

President Obama Plays Soccer With Robot

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1000|Char. 1000  Char.
Pllc15 April 25 2014 at 9:34 AM

"Robomania" caught on in Japan during the turn of the 1980's when quality control and circles took hold of the industry. While Ford popularized the "assembly line" model of production, Toyoto popularized robotic production methods to the industry. At last count, Japan is ranked no. 1 in terms of the numbers of robots in operation. What's scary about ASIMO is that it now functions without "puppet strings" giving it an eerie humanoid characteristic. Robots were popular in Japan before they even existed in the country. The movies based on "Transformers" were first conceived in Japanese comic books and cartoons in the 1950's.

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susjenki April 25 2014 at 2:34 AM

It a great sam that US President enjoy Bowa to any one .

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oldspy4 April 24 2014 at 8:11 PM

All these comments and not ONE about the robot bending over and 'cutting ' one. Oboma did likewise but they blipped it out. It changed the weather in Japan.

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3 replies
Gregory April 25 2014 at 2:14 AM

Do you know that for the past four or five Presidents, no matter what side of the isle they were on,
our people thought they did not need to respect the office of the President. The grid lock in Washington has kept them all from getting the people's business done. Everyone complains but do they do anything about it? This is a great country but not for too much longer because more and more our government is bought and paid for by all those companies and blocks of power that help politicians get reelected and then do what they are told. With more and more of this happening, it will not matter what you believe politically, it will not matter, The major corporations of our country are running it almost completely by now........ we have the vote to counter but so few of us even vote these days

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Kate April 24 2014 at 8:34 PM

The robot was really fun, and made me laugh too. That wasn't at all bad fielding by Obama, either. Just an FYI, the robot voice didn't sound all that halting to me; I've been in Japan and many children with good English sound just like that. They enunciate very clearly.

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Finchie April 25 2014 at 2:27 AM

Obama would bow to a toilet.

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1 reply
usrt66 Finchie April 25 2014 at 2:41 AM

He probably bowed so low he took a sip.

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eaglephoenix2 April 25 2014 at 7:21 AM

His talent is now solidified. He has made this an art form. As carly simon says "Nobody Does it Better.....Baby, you're the Best".......

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1 reply
obama.worst.president.ever eaglephoenix2 April 25 2014 at 7:48 AM

I agree, I have never seen a man who could bow better than Obama.
This man also excels at drawing red lines..!
And talk --- No man can talk B.S. better than this BS-er...!

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rlwdsi April 25 2014 at 8:06 AM

Stu 0605. You really need to employ a spell check service. You're about as literate on your own as your hero, BHO is less a teleprompter. You're obviously still ******* up that swine swill that you think is Kool Aid and I'll lay odds that you're one of those folks whose hands are in the pockets of others, all given by a Socialist Government to keep the votes coming. Since education is "free" you should really consider some for yourself beginning with readin' - writin' and rithmetic.' Obviously, anyone who doesn't agree with the New World Order agenda of Obama, the putrid poster boy of the same is instantly branded RACIST. And it's folks like you who are the real hypocrites; by the way, this is the correct spelling. Go slurp up some more of that swill, Stu.

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1 reply
Nancy rlwdsi April 25 2014 at 8:37 AM

Keep ranting and losing elections. And you still wonder why.............

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duey35 April 25 2014 at 8:58 AM

Hey look on the brigh side he finaly found someone thats his equal....cold and calculating.

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1 reply
Kellen duey35 April 25 2014 at 9:39 AM

Cold? You mean like invading other people's countries and killing off their inoccent men, women, and CHILDREN? Like what the Teabag Party likes, right?

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atx888 April 24 2014 at 8:28 PM

Is this a "real" robot like the two that are on Pharrel William's band?

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1 reply
mebeozz atx888 April 24 2014 at 8:59 PM

It's a real robot like those that bow to Obama in government and the people with their hands out bowing and saying may I have some more please my gracious and generous King Obama the anti-American!

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2 replies
belldon10 mebeozz April 24 2014 at 9:15 PM

Sure we could have voted for one of the clown car republican/teapoty candidate. What a joke they were -- Remember Perry, his was against 3 departments, could only remember 2 '......

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bushbinlion mebeozz April 24 2014 at 10:01 PM

Someone on the public dole like Cliven Bundy?

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