Japan PM under fire — from his wife

July 30, 2010

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan faces plenty of grilling from the opposition camp but his toughest critic might be the one he calls “the opposition party within his own household” — his wife.


“Since I know him very well, I wonder — is it okay that this person is prime minister?” Nobuko Kan, Naoto’s wife of 40 years, writes in her new book titled “What on earth will change in Japan now you are prime minister?”

The 64-year-old Nobuko — who calls herself “Japan’s most nagging voter” — also reveals in the book that her husband is a terrible cook and has given up on studying English, and she pooh-poohs his fashion sense, describing how he once got caught walking around in public with a price tag sticking out of his sleeve.


“I am too scared to read it,” the prime minister, a 63-year-old former grassroots activist, admitted to reporters when asked about his wife’s book about their life together.

The book may not be the best way to cheer up her husband, whose support rate has been sliding since his ruling Democratic Party got clobbered in this month’s upper house election.  Kan faces a tough balancing act trying to rein in Japan’s huge debt while getting the wobbly economy back on track.

Despite her harsh tone, Nobuko, also a cousin of her husband, is probably just engaging in a traditional Japanese put-down of her nearest and dearest — at least that’s the impression I got when I heard her speak to voters this month at a political rally. Nobuko, energetic and plain-spoken, joked about Kan’s lack of expertise on macroeconomic policy at the time.

Due to the premier’s lack of know-how in the kitchen, Nobuko says her next challenge will be to get dinner delivered for her husband when she’s away — which would be an unprecedented move at the prime minister’s residence.

“Because neither his mother nor I educated him well, Kan cannot cook anything. All he can do is make instant noodles. So we need to get food delievered, ” Nobuko writes.

Photo credit: REUTERS/Jim Young

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