Sunday, January 10, 2010

Hatoyama Family Matters

I have a suggestion for every journalist who still writes about Japan or every analyst who is trying to get a grip what the heck is going on inside the Prime Minister's mind:

Find the answer to this riddle.
The firstborn grandson of a former prime minister on one side and the founder of Bridgestone Tires on the other is not groomed to take over the family business on either side. Instead he is released from familial obligations to seek a doctorate at Stanford University.

A few years later he comes back to the family home with not a degree (he was to finish his Ph.D. in 1976) but a vivacious, delicious batty, divorced, Shanghai-born former showgirl whom he had met when she was still married to a California-based Japanese restaurateur.

He tells his parents his plan to wed his divorcée girlfriend and his parents respond, "O.K. That sounds fine."
Take a moment to let the tendrils of that story curl about the folds of your cerebral cortex.

Do you see? The tale is inexplicable. No, it is beyond inexplicable: it is impossible.

One of the wealthiest and illustrious families of Japan permits the eldest of its male heirs to wed a previously married Takarazuka starlet. Anyone familiar with parents-in-law in this blessed land, especially wealthy or high-status ones, and the way they can twist themselves into knots over the implications a marriage might have on the family's image and the inheritance of assets, should have sat bolt upright and said, "Hey, wait a minute. Run that story by me one more time. Slowly."

The newspapers obsess about what they have come to call the O-Hato (小鳩) dual premiership, where Democratic Party of Japan Secretary-General Ozawa Ichiro is either sharing power with Prime Minister Hatoyama Yukio or dictating to him. All media everywhere unleashed a storm of derision upon Hatoyama Miyuki for her vision of flying in a spaceship to Venus, consigning her to the outer fringes of the Gamma Quadrant of Political Relevance.

However, I am becoming convinced that the really important pairing in the Hatoyama administration, the one that gives a clue about the hows and whys of Prime Minister Hatoyama's so far unnerving style of governance, is not Yukio & Ichiro, it's Yukio & Miyuki ...and that if the country or the wider world wants to be at peace with him, they might need a read on why his family his family came to be at peace with her.

Photo courtesy: Sankei Shimbun


Anonymous said...

You just noticed?

Yes, his marriage says a lot about him. It is not just the courage to go against all convention that stands out. But it is that he felt he had the character to woo and tame such a wild creature.

More important, he knew what his weaknesses were and how his wife would fill in those gaps. He was not afraid or too arrogant to not be open to what she could offer.

He knew he would flourish with her by his side. And all he had to do in return is to protect her.

He has definitely some uncommon qualities and strengths that few give him credit for.

MTC said...

Anonymous -

Thank you for your comment.

However, I believe you are missing my point. What Yukio Hatoyama sees in Miyuki-san is not the mystery or possibly even of interest. It is what prompted his parents into accepting the marriage.

Now, as for your use of the word "tame" ...

Chris ( said...

MTC, you have me utterly intrigued. On the surface it makes absolutely no sense. But surely you aren't going to leave us hanging without (at least a hint of) your take on the situation?

Shunsui said...

Indeed. With all the stories about how unconventional Hatoyama's life has been, I'm intrigued as to why Hatoyama's policy choices haven't been more unusual? The markets might actually respond better to some unusual prescriptions than its so-called "New Growth Strategy".

Sam said...
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