Friday, 4 June 2010

What A Contrast...One Outrightly Rejects The Tag And The Other...

This was in the Malaysian Mirror:

Straight-talking PM's wife rejects First Lady tag
Friday, 04 June 2010 17:32

TOKYO - Japan's new Prime Minister Naoto Kan has called his wife Nobuko (right) his political "opposition in the home", and when he took office Friday she immediately rejected the title of first lady.

"I always thought the term 'first lady' isn't suitable in Japan," the well-known straight talker said in a phone interview with TV Asahi after Kan became the new leader of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan.

"It refers to the wife of a US president," she said. "I will do what I can as his wife, but I'd also like to keep my own freedom."

Despite her rare public appearances compared to her outgoing predecessor Miyuki Hatoyama, the 64-year-old housewife, a skilled speaker on the campaign trail, was once likened to Hillary Clinton, now the US secretary of state.

Nobuko has been with Kan since he was a leftist civic activist in the 1970s and gained his first parliamentary seat in 1980 after three failed attempts. Over the years she is known to have pulled strings in his political career.

In a well-known anecdote, she convinced him to reveal government culpability in a scandal over HIV-tainted blood products when he was health minister in the mid-1990s, a public revelation which earned him much kudos with voters.

"If you cannot do anything about this... you'd better quit as a parliamentarian," she had told Kan as she later recalled in a dialogue published on the website of fellow DPJ member Kazunori Yamanoi.

Occasional domestic tirades
She has also admitted that her own occasional domestic tirades may have inspired some of the parliamentary outbursts of her husband, who has been nicknamed "Ira-Kan" or "Irritable Kan" for his quick temper.

"When Kan was still opposition, he would often blast away at ruling party politicians during parliament sessions," she said. "Watching those scenes on television, I'd think to myself: 'that's what I do to him at home'."

Their marriage went through a rough patch when a gossip magazine revealed he had spent a night in a hotel room with a television presenter.

She harshly criticised her husband, mostly for dropping his guard and imperilling his political career, but eventually let the matter go.

Kan later told the media: "My wife scolded me: 'You idiot!'"

The couple have two adult sons and live with their cats in western Tokyo.

"My only condition for marrying him was to let me have the cats," she said. "Kan, who was born in the Chinese Year of the Dog, likes dogs more than cats. And the cats aren't very attached to Kan either."— AFP

...and this was in the New York Times:

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