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Thursday, Sept. 17, 2009
Hatoyama embraces 'alien' label
Engineering academic winning points for odd word use, ice cream character
By MASAMI ITO
Meet new Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, also known as "the alien."
It could be his unique use of words, his unreadable character, his physical features or all of the above, but the nickname has stuck and the new leader seems happy with it.
In his book "Seicho no Genkai ni Manabu" ("Learning from the Limits of Growth") published by Shogakukan Inc. in 2000, Hatoyama said he was happy to be called an alien.
"All humans are aliens. We are earthlings, and at the same time, we are aliens, one existing part in the universe," Hatoyama wrote. "As a human being, I think it is very important to go beyond the bounds of global awareness into universal consciousness."
Hatoyama was born into a family of politicians and business tycoons on Feb. 11, 1947. His grandfather Ichiro Hatoyama was prime minister in the 1950s, his father Iichiro was foreign minister in the 1970s and younger brother Kunio was internal affairs minister in the Cabinet of Prime Minister Taro Aso.
His mother, Yasuko, hails from the Ishibashi family — the founding family of tire manufacturing giant Bridgestone Corp. The company's name was derived by directly translating the family name: "ishi" meaning "stone" and "hashi" meaning "bridge" and reversing the order.
Yukio Hatoyama is a rare breed of politician because he has a "science mind."
A graduate of the University of Tokyo in 1969, Hatoyama went on to obtain a Ph.D. in engineering from Stanford University in the U.S. He then built a solid career in academia, rising to the rank of assistant professor at Senshu University.
Perhaps it was his scientific way of thinking, merged with politics, but one of his famous pet sayings since jumping into politics in 1986 has been "sciencing politics" — a perfect example of his unique way with words.
Hatoyama's personable and friendly character has won him steady support both from his party and the public. But former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone once criticized him as being too kind, describing his character as sweet like soft ice cream that melts fast in the summer heat.
While Hatoyama admitted he may have been indecisive in the past, he pointed out that even Nakasone admitted he has grown some backbone.
"Nakasone once said to me that I have turned from soft ice cream to ice candy, that I started to have a hard core," Hatoyama said proudly.
In his personal life, he is married to former Takarazuka actress Miyuki, who has recently caused a stir in the international media for saying she met U.S. actor Tom Cruise in a previous life, has flown to Venus and eats the sun.
Maybe their nickname should be "the alien couple."