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Thursday, Jan. 13, 2011

Kan not a quitter, wife assures


Staff writer

Prime Minister Naoto Kan will not step down despite his low public support rate, his wife and "adviser," Nobuko, said Wednesday.

News photo
Stands by her man: Nobuko Kan, whose husband, Naoto, is the prime minister, speaks at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo on Wednesday. YOSHIAKI MIURA PHOTO

"The public opinion poll is a kind of bullying. So quitting because he was criticized? I don't want that to happen," Nobuko Kan said at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo.

"The support rate won't go below zero anyway," said the 65-year-old, who is known for her witty, blunt way of speech.

But she added that if there is any specific policy goal the prime minister would risk his life for, it would be revitalizing the social welfare system.

"It's already broken. It cannot be maintained without debt," she said, adding her husband is very keen on making the system sustainable.

Raised by her politician mother, Nobuko Kan is known for being a harsh critic of the prime minister, who is also her cousin. She recently published the book "Anata ga Sori ni Natte nani ga Kawaru no?" ("What on Earth will Change in Japan now that you have become Prime Minister?"), which questioned his ability to lead the country.

Born in 1945 in Okayama Prefecture, she grew up in a small town and lived there until she turned 18. She then moved to Tokyo to attend university, and later moved into the home of her future spouse. The two married after graduation in 1970.

Since her husband decided to run for the Lower House in 1976, she has been supporting him by knocking on the doors of voters in his electoral district and directly listening to their concerns.

She said she has been unable to do so since she moved into the Prime Minister's Official Residence, but vowed to again do so starting in February for nationwide gubernatorial, mayoral and assembly elections scheduled for April.

A tough year awaits the prime minister, with a "twisted" Diet after the Democratic Party of Japan-led ruling bloc lost its Upper House majority in the July election.

In the previous extraordinary Diet session last year, the prime minister was bombarded with tough comments from opposition forces. His wife said he needs to learn how to take the harsh criticism.



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The Japan Times

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