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.
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who took office earlier this month, hoped to impress voters as he made his debut at a meeting of G8 and G20 leaders in Canada last weekend, but saw media play at home overshadowed by the World Cup and a scandal roiling Japan’s traditional sport of sumo.
Still, Kan did manage to claim one prize from his summit debut – lots of face-time with U.S. President Barack Obama. Kan’s predecessor Yukio Hatoyama quit after just eight months in office in part because he botched up relations with Japan’s biggest ally over the relocation of a U.S. military base on Okinawa. So brief chats with Obama in between sessions, including one on Obama’s love for green tea ice cream, and a full, 30-minute meeting with the U.S. President at the end of his trip should comfort voters. An improvement from a mere 10 minutes Hatoyama was allotted when he met Obama at a nuclear safety summit in April.
When Japan’s top government spokesman, Yoshito Sengoku, was asked — as new Japanese leaders often are — to characterise the government’s new cabinet line-up, he fumbled a bit and then awkwardly said something about it being “fresh and hardworking.”