The run-up to the US presidential election has entered a critical stage. In the Democratic Party's primaries to select a candidate, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are running neck and neck. It is even more enthralling than fiction.

Initially Clinton was the favorite, but these days Obama seems to be gathering more and more steam. Attention now is focused on whether Clinton can mount a last-minute comeback. It's a riveting race.

Watching the campaigns, I have come to realize once again that the United States is a multiethnic country. In particular, I have been astonished by the importance of blacks. Obama, who is black himself, naturally has received support from many blacks. At the same time, though, he seems to have gained overwhelming support from young people as well, regardless of race. It is a kind of reaction against the Republican Party, which is involved in a war, and against the older generation. They seem to want change from an America that is hated by the world to an America that is loved by the world.

Recently Obama scored an overwhelming victory over Clinton in Washington DC, the US capital. I was surprised to read that blacks account for more than 60% of the population in that city. I thought that the more urban an area, the more support there would be for Clinton, but the complete reverse has happened. Obama, who is continuing his run of victories, has become something of a hero among blacks and young people.

Obama is beginning to take a big lead over Clinton in terms of political funding, too. Donations to the Obama campaign, which he collects from individuals via the Internet, have easily surpassed \100 billion, and these funds have been dropped like bombs as advertising expenses. These funds have value precisely because they have been donated by individual supporters, and it is no exaggeration to say that this large gap in funding is going to decide the race.

I am certainly not a proponent of racial discrimination. However, in view of the long and painful history of blacks, I find myself thinking that black people must be quite mindful of the meaning of the fact that they are now turning their exercise of the civil rights, and in particular voting rights, which they gained through the sacrifices of Martin Luther King and other great figures, toward their superstar, Obama.

Moreover, the huge number of black people throughout the whole of America seems to be giving birth to a quiet solidarity. I wonder if I am the only person who senses this fact in the slogan of "Change."

How are the many ethnic groups going to act in the second half of the campaign? Of course, since matters like race and so on probably do not matter when it comes to the president, maybe nothing will happen at all. But psychologically, the many ethnic groups, and especially the whites, are not on this wavelength.

In the 1950s then US Secretary of State John Foster Dulles spoke about the "domino theory" in Indochina. America continued to wage anticommunist wars there and eventually suffered defeat in the Vietnam War. I imagine that deep inside them, whites are concerned that if Obama becomes president, America will topple like dominos from a white-dominated society to a society dominated by blacks and other ethnic groups. Blacks, Hispanics, and other ethnic groups, meanwhile, will probably begin to demand affluence through the improvement of their status, promotion of employment, and so on.

Maybe these are just my own personal views, but all the same, it is definitely going to be a presidential election that leads to various changes. And as a result, inevitably changes are going to occur not only in the United States but throughout the world.