Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern visits a Jaspri promotional event in Tokyo. Video / Derek Cheng
At one point in her visit, Jacinda Ardern puts her mask in her pocket and jokes that her dignity is already stored there. Derek Cheng Reveals All the Colorful and Indecent Moments — Mainly
From the press pack that followed – Prime Minister’s first foreign visit in two years
The PCR swabbing technique in Singapore appears to be quite different, where they try to swab the back of your scalp through your nostrils.
It’s been a long time since any of us set foot on foreign soil, and doing so now comes with certain obligations.
About 50 people are on the trip, including Jacinda Ardern’s team, 12 business leaders, a group of media and a Defense Forces flight crew. It seems a safe bet that someone will test positive at some stage. who would that be?
Three out of 50 people positive results, but Ardern, his team and the media pack are all COVID-free.
In a joint press conference for Ardern and Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong, the definition of a professional camera almost leads to a diplomatic incident.
A Singapore official contacts New Zealand media and demands that the iPhone installed on the tripod be removed in order to livestream the presser.
The iPhone belongs to a NZ Herald journalist who says it is already livestreaming as the start of the presser is imminent. Officials repeatedly insist that only professional cameras are allowed to be used in camera zones.
The iPhone is not in anyone’s bus. The rule is one of those rules that doesn’t make sense, but is probably a long-standing standard.
Journalist is about to fail in his professional duties because what he thinks is a stupid rule. He’s about to make a scathing attack about how absurd it is, but instead buries himself into his laptop while foreign ministry staffers do what he’s currently unable to do: being a diplomat.
“This is a professional camera in New Zealand,” the staff attempts to argue. The officer’s resolve sounds unmistakable, and I’m not sure how, but somehow the iPhone is let go and Herald viewers get their livestream.
These tours typically include everything from event to event and writing, photographing and livestreaming as we go. Usually there is no time to eat, let alone breathing.
Some media parties arrive early to the evening flash gala dinner and are so hungry that they stop the waiters coming and going from the kitchen and asking for bread.
It is regretted later when the actual dinner consists of the most delicious kiwi culinary masterpieces, more of which could have been consumed if less bread had been eaten earlier.
When the PM comes, she comes straight to our table to give a pair of cuff links to someone in the media team whose cuffs have been held together by paper clips so far.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Trade and Export Development Minister Damien O’Connor with the Kiwi Brothers at a Zespri promotional event. photo / supply
Pictures of lemons, cucumbers and apple cider vinegar adorn the sides of booths where we are delivering saliva for PCR tests upon our arrival. These are clearly meant to help us salivate more easily.
Welcome to Japan. Studies show that Japan considers the kiwi to be open, relaxed and trusting – but a bit prehistoric when it comes to technology.
Maybe it’s just that the technology in Japan is far more sophisticated. For example, for protection against COVID, thermal sensors show you your temperature at the entrance of many buildings.
The iron in my hotel room, described by a colleague as a “weird Panasonic bulb thing,” baffles me. I’ve been messing with it all night but to no avail. I have to break my shirt for tomorrow’s main event – Ardern’s bilateral talks with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
There are too many buttons in the toilet. “Pulsette”, “Oscillate” and “Rear Soft”, after much experimentation, have become my favourites.
I also can’t figure out how to reduce the window shades, and sleep with them out in the open. I later learned that another colleague, who failed to see the “black out” button from the bed, set up a pillow fort as close as possible to block the light.
Thermal sensors in Japan allow you to check your temperature. Photo / Derek Cheng
The Jespree promotional event in the morning feels like a funeral—lots of men in black suits while a three-piece band plays mournful music—until the Kiwi Brothers arrive.
The giant, fluffy kiwifruit mascot doesn’t seem to be Ardern’s favorite. The last time they were at the same event, she says: “I especially remember that, while he thankfully didn’t make me dance, he held my hand.”
The band’s violinist sets up his phone on a tripod to record the band’s performance, but his footage is video-bombed by the New Zealand media pack, who, unaware of his phone, enters the room and Stands directly between the band and the band. phone.
When we finally realize it, apologies are about to come. The violinist insists she doesn’t mind, and even tracks down a reporter on Twitter for telling her so.
Finding the journalist was not difficult. He tweeted a 28-second clip featuring the band and the Kiwi Brothers, which went viral – with nearly 4 million views and 38,000 shares within two days.
Breaking the sake barrel, which Jacinda Ardern had to do repeatedly, so all the camera crew was sure to get the shot. Photo / Derek Cheng
When Ardern later does a media stand-up, she is filmed and photographed several times breaking wooden planks on a barrel with just a wooden mallet – the Japanese equivalent of cutting a ribbon.
He had to repeat it several times, so every camera out there – and there were dozens of them – nailed the shot.
After spending the morning dancing to a human-sized kiwifruit, she takes off her mask first on stand-up, puts it in her pocket and jokes that her dignity is already stored there.
By evening, back at the hotel, non-use of iron has become a widespread problem. A journalist desperate to avoid being seen in wrinkled clothes called room service.
Fifteen minutes before the Ardern-Kishida bilateral meeting, another journalist called and asked if I knew how to operate an iron. After hours of complicated problem-solving, I do, and share the valuable knowledge I’ve gained (plug it in and press the only button on it).
Singapore isn’t the only country that casts doubts about an iPhone as a journalist’s camera. With Ardern and Kishida covering the joint press conference the instructions are pretty clear: No photos can be taken with the iPhone.
Not only that, but the role of “multimedia journalist” does not exist in Japan due to powerful unions leading to a clear division of labor. A photographer “pen” cannot be a journalist, who cannot be a videographer.
We’re told that if we take pictures at a press conference (with a real camera, not an iPhone) and then open a laptop to type a quote, it’ll stink so badly that we can pass out.
There’s also a nasty phrase for any journalist trying to play more than one role – “Penkisha toka suchiru, dochika?!” – which, I think, roughly translates to “What are you doing and how dare you discredit the profession like this?”
Another diplomatic incident is avoided just before the start of the press conference.
There are about a dozen chairs on either side of the podium, and a New Zealand journalist sits on it as close to the podium as possible. Other Kiwi journalists see this as a green light, and soon most of the front line is occupied by the Kiwi media pack.
However, all the Japanese media is standing against the wall behind. Of course, the seats are not for us but for the diplomatic teams of each country, and become vacant after realizing it.
One of the officers then goes seat-to-seat, clearing the translation equipment on each seat.
Filing from the floor. Journalists take their positions for a joint press conference with Jacinda Ardern and Fumio Kishida. photo / supply
A journalist is losing sleep. When an officer leads us into a room and points to the “press” sign on the door, he stifles it. It’s not a button. It simply means that this is the media room.
Everyone’s final PCR test results come back negative, which means we are all on our way home.
Jacinda Ardern (left) with her Japanese host sister Madoka Watanabe more than 30 years ago. photo / supply
The finish line is in sight, and a special moment is when Ardern is reunited with her Japanese host sister, Madoka Watanabe, for the first time in more than 30 years.
Ardern, in his wrap-of-the-trip stand-up, is asked to summarize the mission in two words. We’ve all guessed cliches like “strengthening ties” or “growing partnerships.”
Possibly reflecting her and our fatigue from the “Bang for Your Buck” schedule, she says: “Too busy”.