April 23 - President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dine at Tokyo's 10-seat Sukiyabashi Jiro restaurant where the chef famously discourages chatting during the meal. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) U.S. President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dined together in Tokyo on Wednesday (April 23), bumping elbows at the counter of a tiny basement sushi restaurant run by an octogenarian chef. Sources close to Abe told Japanese media the prime minister thought a meal at "Sukiyabashi Jiro," a venerable establishment in Tokyo's bustling Ginza shopping district, would be a good way to build trust. The venue, with just 10 seats but three Michelin stars, is considered one of the world's best sushi restaurants. Obama took a stool at the narrow wooden counter with Abe shortly after arriving in Japan on a state visit. The restaurant had its name burnished in a 2011 documentary, "Jiro Dreams of Sushi", which featured owner Jiro Ono, who still presses the sushi despite turning 86 on his last birthday. The restaurant is usually booked up months in advance. It features a set menu of 20 pieces of gem-like sushi for 30,000 yen $290 (172.57 pounds), beer and sake not included. One Japanese television station said the choice was Obama's. Telephone calls to the restaurant went unanswered. Leaders of Japan, where proper etiquette is held in high regard, rarely sit down to such informal dinners with visiting leaders. Obama will see a more formal side of Japan on Thursday (April 24) when he attends a state banquet hosted by Emperor Akihito. If Abe and Obama chit-chat too much over their sushi they might upset their host. The bald, bespectacled Jiro is known to discourage conversation among his guests, hoping instead that they pay full attention to the flavors of his food.