Wife questions Japan PM Naoto Kan's ability to govern

By Roland Buerk
BBC News, Tokyo

Image caption,
Naoto and Nobuko Kan have been married for 40 years

The wife of Japan's prime minister has written a book publicly questioning her husband's ability to lead the country.

Called "What on earth will change in Japan now you are prime minister?", it was published this week.

Naoto Kan became leader of the world's second biggest economy last month, following the resignation of Yukio Hatoyama.

He has been married to his wife, Nobuko, for 40 years.

Poll drubbing

Many wives of successful men may privately wonder how their husbands made it to the top, but few are as public about it as Japan's first lady.

In a book about her husband, Noboko Kan writes: "I wonder: 'Is it okay that this man is prime minister?' - because I know him well."

In a long list of his failings she criticises his delivery of his first policy speech in parliament, as well as his fashion sense and inability to cook.

It was written before upper house elections earlier this month at which the voters appeared to agree with Mrs Kan's assessment, handing her husband's party a drubbing.

The decision to publish the book is eccentric even by the standards of the wives of Japanese prime ministers.

The last one, Miyuki Hatoyama, said she had been to the planet Venus, and had met Tom Cruise in a previous life when he was Japanese.

But the Kans are as famous for her willingness to spar with him in public as for their enduring marriage.

The prime minister has called his wife his "opposition in the home". Asked by reporters about her book, Mr Kan said he was too scared to read it.

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