By Miwa Suzuki (AFP) – Sep 2, 2009
TOKYO — Japan's soon-to-be first lady, Miyuki Hatoyama, is an outgoing former actress with an interest in spirituality who says she shares a common "sensibility" with Michelle Obama.
Miyuki, sporting new red streaks in her trademark shoulder-length bob, looks set to liven up the traditionally staid role of a premier's wife with her extroverted and sometimes quirky personality.
After her husband's landmark election victory at the weekend, she told Japanese media she is looking forward to meeting the wife of US President Barack Obama, who is due to visit Tokyo later this year.
"I think she is so natural and has a kind of sensibility similar to mine. If I can have the chance to meet her, I would look forward to it," Miyuki said in a recent interview with Kyodo News agency.
Her husband -- whose Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) scored a historic win over conservative Prime Minister Taro Aso's party in general elections Sunday -- has called Miyuki his ever-shining "sun."
"There is no limit to her cheerfulness," the blue-blooded politician and former engineering scholar has said of his 66-year-old wife, whom he met while he was studying at California's prestigious Stanford University.
While many politicians' wives in Japan have played a traditionally meek and conservative role, Miyuki Hatoyama is a celebrity in her own right.
She gives inspirational talks and has appeared on TV variety shows to discuss topics ranging from spirituality to politics.
She became an important asset for Hatoyama's election campaign with her cheerful talk and friendly smiles.
She even performed a Michael Jackson-style "Moonwalk" for people recording her with their cellphone cameras while campaigning for a Democratic candidate in August, according to a weekly the Mainichi daily.
Miyuki describes herself as a "life composer" who arranges people's food, clothes and home decor and has authored cookbooks, including "Spiritual Food," on Hawaiian macrobiotic recipes.
She also serves as her husband's chief stylist, shaping his bushy quiff and coordinating what he wears.
The 62-year-old prime minister-in-waiting, who has appeared in a fashion show hand-in-hand with Miyuki, has spoken in glowing terms about his wife as the bedrock of his life.
"I feel relieved when I get home," he told an interviewer for a book published in 2002. "She is like an energy-refuelling base."
When she appeared recently on a television talk show wearing a skirt made from hemp coffee sacks she bought in Hawaii, Miyuki Hatoyama said she had always been "full of curiosity."
"I'm a person who wants to try everything," she said, listing hobbies such as pickling vegetables, making stained-glass art, pottery and sewing.
She said she was now "burning" with desire to make a film in Hollywood. She playfully went on to say that the lead actor would be Tom Cruise, "because I know he was a Japanese in a previous life."
Miyuki smiled and continued: "I remember that he and I were together (in a previous life). I believe he'd get it if I said to him 'long time no see' when I meet him."
Miyuki also explained how she gets energy from the sun.
"When the sun is up, I always eat it... I tear it off and eat it like this," she said, gesturing as if clawing at the life-giving celestial body, tearing off pieces and putting them in her mouth.
"That gives me great power," she said.
Miyuki was born in Shanghai in 1943 when the Chinese city was under Japanese occupation. She grew up in Kobe, in western Japan.
She was an actress with the all-female Takarazuka Revue in the 1960s and went to the United States in her mid-20s after quitting her stage career.
She began a relationship in San Francisco with Hatoyama, the scion of a political dynasty often dubbed Japan's Kennedy family. Miyuki and Yukio Hatoyama married in 1975 after she divorced her previous husband.
The couple have one son, an engineering scholar now living in Russia.
She said she learnt what to wear, how to greet supporters and other manners as a well-known politician's wife from her mother-in-law, Yasuko, a daughter of the founder of tyremaker Bridgestone.
"I managed to carry on in this world thanks to the detailed instructions of my mother (-in-law)," she told the Mainichi's weekly. "I used to be a jeans person."
Copyright © 2013 AFP. All rights reserved. More »