Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Miyuki Hatoyama, Japan's Next First Lady, Has Her Own Progressive Food Agenda...and She's Looking Forward to Meeting Michelle Obama

First Lady-to-be Miyuki Hatoyama is a cookbook author, pickling hobbyist, sunshine eater...is there a Tokyo version of the White House Kitchen Garden in the future?
President Obama spoke by telephone today with Japan's next Prime Minister, Yukio Hatoyama, whose Democratic Party of Japan scored a landslide victory in Sunday's general election, ending a half-century of domination by the opposing party. Mr. Hatoyama is not expected to be sworn in until Sept. 16, but the President is already doing outreach, because Mr. Hatoyama recently published an essay in which he attacked the "unrestrained market fundamentalism" of U.S.-led globalization. (At top of post: The Hatoyamas, following the election on Sunday. We're assuming you know who the guy on the phone is...)

But now Mr. Hatoyama is crediting his election victory to American citizens, and to President Obama. Following the phone call today with President Obama, Mr. Hatoyama advised reporters:

"I told him that the Democratic Party's victory is thanks to President Obama, and that Japan has seen its first change in the government through the democratic process. That change required courage, and U.S. citizens and President Obama across the ocean gave the Japanese people that courage."

Mr. Hatoyama's agressive grassroots campaign was very similar to President Obama's, and the similarities don't end there. Like the President, Mr. Hatoyama has already been the subject of dozens of books, and his wife, Miyuki Hatoyama, is a celeb in her own right, and the object of near obsession by many Japanese, just like First Lady Michelle Obama. The Hatoyamas met in the US when Mr. Hatoyama was a PhD student at Stanford University, and they've been involved ever since (he's 62; she's 66). The PM-to-be refers to his wife as "the bedrock" of his life, just like the President refers to Mrs. Obama. And the Hatoyama family is often likened to the Kennedy family, because of their long involvement in Japanese politics; Mr. Hatoyama's grandfather was also Prime Minister. (Photo is the Hatoyamas, as young lovebirds)

Like Mrs. Obama, Mrs. Hatoyama has a well-developed nutrition and health agenda.
She's the author of Miyuki Hatoyama's Spiritual Food, a cookbook of Hawaiian macrobiotic recipes (in photo), she speaks frequently in public about food policy, and she pickles vegetables as a hobby. Mrs. Obama's forthcoming cookbook will be co-authored with White House Food Initiative Coordinator Sam Kass, and she 'likes' to cook and discuss nutrition, too. Mrs. Hatoyama has already gone on the record about how much she has in common with Mrs. Obama, and how much she's looking forward to their first meeting:

"I think she [Mrs. Obama] is so natural and has a kind of sensibility similar to mine," Mrs. Miyuki said in a recent interview with Kyodo News Agency.

Both the First Ladies make regular appearances on TV shows, discussing everything from cooking to fashion to politics (although Mrs. Hatoyama doesn't have her own Youtube videos yet...). During a recent TV appearance, Mrs. Hatoyama was dressed in a skirt made of hemp coffee sacks, which got as much attention as Mrs. Obama's Lanvin sneakers; she has an avid following in the Eastern fashion world that's equivalent to Mrs. Obama's in the West. And also like Mrs. Obama, who's gone on the record about President Obama's attire, Mrs. Hatoyama is credited with cleaning up her husband's act for their campaign season, in a move she calls "life composing."

Mrs. Hatoyama also frequently mentions that she eats the sun...for energy, so she's kind of fab as a pal for President Obama, too, with his big interest in alternative energy resources. Both have a big interest in outer space, too. Mrs. Hatoyama recently described riding a triangular spacecraft to the "green" planet of Venus...which is somewhat akin to the President's desire for a Mars landing. No doubt when the two First Couples meet later this year, much fun will ensue. After all, Mr. Hatoyama's nickname is "The Alien," which is just alarmingly close to some of President Obama's nicknames in America....