Global News Journal
Beyond the World news headlines
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.
Five years ago, Japanese voters seeking change from stale politics and a stagnant economy backed maverick leader Junichiro Koizumi’s calls for reform, handing his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) a huge win in an election for parliament’s powerful lower house.
Two years, several scandals and one incompetent prime minister later, they dealt the same LDP a stinging setback in a 2007 upper house election, creating a “Twisted Parliament” where the upper chamber could stall bills and delay policies.
Candidates on the campaign trail in Japan are sweating through the summer heat but voters have been cool towards this Sunday’s upper house election.
Sure, the government won’t change because the ruling Democratic Party will still control the more powerful lower house.
Japan’s Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama at a news conference on April 28, 2010. (REUTERS/Toru Hanai)
It’s not unusual for a politician whose popularity has slumped to want to avoid the media. But for Japan’s premiers it’s not just a question of keeping critical newspaper editorials out of sight.
If ever proof were needed that personal ties can trump policy in Japanese political alliances , a new party being set up by a band of ageing opposition MPs should do the trick.
Former Finance Minister Kaoru Yosano, 71, favours raising taxes to pay for burgeoning social welfare costs in Japan’s greying society and helped push to privatise Japan’s huge postal system back in 2005.