Rahm Emanuel is turning heads for how he sometimes travels in Japan. The former Chicago mayor is now the U.S. Ambassador to Japan and his official embassy twitter account frequently includes pictures of him travelling by train across the country.
“Love the really plush seats!” Ambassador Emanuel’s account tweeted on May 11 racking-up 63,000 likes and more than 14,000 retweets.
“Japan’s world-class rail system is worthy of a world-class country. It did not disappoint,” Emanuel tweeted in February.
Bloomberg first reported on Emanuel’s tenderness for train travel in Japan.
“In the US, he is seen as a tough guy but in Japan he is seen as folksy and compassionate,” Kazuhiro Maeshima, a professor in American politics at Sophia University in Tokyo told Bloomberg. “When you type ‘Rahm Emanuel’ in Japanese on Google, you can see ‘Emanuel tetsuota’ in the results. That is a success,” he added, referring to the Japanese word for “rail fan” or “train geek,” Bloomberg reported.
The article cited a U.S. Embassy official as noting previous ambassadors almost always travelled in an armored vehicle for official business.
As mayor of Chicago, Emanuel entered into an agreement with Elon Musk to dig a tunnel connecting O’Hare Airport and downtown Chicago for what was predicted to be a futuristic, 100 mile per hour transit trip that would connect the two locations in record time. The project never got off the ground – or in the ground. Emanuel’s successor, Lori Lightfoot, pulled the plug on the project shortly after taking office.
During his two terms at Chicago City Hall, Emanuel’s press team was fond of publishing photos of the mayor attempting to look like a “man of the people” by taking public transit. Most of the time, the mayor was chauffeured in a two car caravan.