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RocketNews24’s Mr. Sato went out for coffee, and somehow came back at the center of a political debate.

As some of you may have noticed, RocketNews24 is not a hard-hitting political information outlet. Not that government isn’t an important matter, but our focus tends to be more on burger elections than parliamentary or presidential ones.

And yet, all of a sudden one of our Japanese-language reporters, Mr. Sato, has become a banner held up by one side of an American political debate. If you’ve been on Twitter over the past few days, you’ve probably heard some heated discussion about U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent restrictions on refugee acceptance and immigration, and also Starbucks’ announcement that the company plans to employ some 10,000 refugees in its facilities worldwide over the next five years.

The magnanimous move by Starbucks was loudly applauded by its supporters, but given the divisive nature of the topic, others quickly responded by calling for a boycott of the chain. This in turn prompted those who agree with Starbucks’ stance to reiterate that they’re happier than ever to drink their coffee there, and some expressed their feelings with tweets like these.

Yep, that’s Mr. Sato, carrying his 20-pound (nine-kilogram) Starbucks coffee cup, which he actually drank from when he stopped into the branch in Tokyo’s Shibuya neighborhood last December.

With one of his zany adventures making waves around the world in an entirely unexpected way, we asked Mr. Sato for his take on becoming a political icon, and his response follows.

Sometimes, unbelievable things can happen in life. I never imagined that I’d somehow become part of a political debate. I’m just some middle-aged Japanese dude, so how did this happen?

Starbucks announced it would hire refugees, and some Trump supporters expressed outrage over it. They started tweeting #BoycottStarbucks, and apparently it was the #1 trending hashtag.

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I just knew about this from watching the news, and my reaction was basically “Wow, this is a really big deal in America.” But then one of my overseas friends told me “Your picture is all over Twitter.” I was just an unconnected third party watching the debate from the sidelines, so how did I become part of the discussion? I couldn’t understand it at all.

So I looked at the tweet he’d sent me a link to…

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…and no doubt about it, those are photos of me. But…why? I realize there are many aspects to the issue being debated, but do I really have anything to do with all that?

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Some people in America may not be aware of this, but I’ve even gotten a Trump makeover in the past.

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I think I actually ended up looking a lot like him, but I wonder what American people think.

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The whole Twitter thing has actually been kind of a shock, but if it’s come to this, hopefully some people will tell me “You don’t look like Trump.”

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As Mr. Sato’s day out with his giant Starbucks mug precedes the chain’s hiring pledge by more than a year, and his Trump makeover came some 10 months before the current president’s controversial executive orders, neither was a politically motivated endeavor (honestly, Mr. Sato just like attention). Still, he does enjoy a cup of Starbucks coffee, and we have to admit, some of those tweets are pretty clever. But should your online acquaintances be buzzing about “Japanese Starbucks Mug Man,” Mr. Sato would really appreciate it if you could steer them to his origin story.

Featured image: Twitter/@ottabek
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