As Yukio Hatoyama prepares to become Japan’s new leader on September 16, his wife, Mi-yuki, is already emerging as a gloriously eccentric foil to her hum-drum hubby.
While Yukio reassures the United States that his country is committed to the bilateral alliance, she regales the media with tales of interplanetary travel and, er, solar breakfasts.
“I eat the sun,” Miyuki says, raising her arms as if to tear pieces off an imaginary solar disc. “Like this: yum, yum, yum. It gives me enormous energy. My husband has recently started doing that too.” Clearly, this is where Gordon Brown has been going wrong.
When she isn’t tucking into the centrepiece of our solar system, the 66-year-old former dancer pens cookbooks with humble titles such as Hatoyama Miyuki’s Hawaiian Spiritual Food. She makes her own clothes (including a skirt made from hemp coffee bags) and, as she demonstrated during the election campaign, can also do a very passable moon-walk.
But it is her extraterrestrial experiences that have triggered an avalanche of media coverage her husband could never hope to match. In a book entitled Very Strange Things I’ve Encountered, his wife claims she was abducted by aliens as she slept one night 20 years ago, then whisked off to the final frontier.
“While my body was asleep, I think my soul rode on a triangular-shaped UFO and went to Venus,” she wrote. “It was a very beautiful place and it was very green.”
By coincidence, Miyuki is married to a man whom his parliamentary colleagues once nicknamed “the alien”, a comment on his sometimes otherworldly manner and an unkind reference to his prominent eyes.
His wife’s revelatory book was published last year, but only now have her foibles become staples of daytime television. Perhaps revealingly, she says that when she recounted her Venusian encounter to her first husband, he suggested it had probably been a dream.
But her second, the 62-year-old Yukio, is more accommodating: “He has a different way of thinking and would surely say, ‘Oh, that’s great.'”
Michelle Obama, too, will surely be delighted to learn that Miyuki sees in her a kindred spirit. “I think she is so natural and has a kind of sensibility similar to mine. If I get the chance to meet her, I’d look forward to it.”
Hatoyama appears admirably unruffled by his wife’s idiosyncrasies, saying: “I feel relieved when I get home. She is like an energy-refuelling base.” Miyuki, too, paints an idyllic picture of life chez Hatoyama, where her husband indulges his love of animal movies and feeds his addiction to prawn crackers.
She honed her theatrical delivery back in the 1960s when performing for the Takarazuka Revue, an all-female theatrical troupe that specialises in kitsch adaptations of classics such as Guys and Dolls and The Sound of Music.
Moving to the US with her Japanese restaurateur husband, she met Yukio, then a postgraduate engineer at Stanford University. They married in 1975.
The popular notion that Japanese women are demure and subservient is a lazy stereotype, but judged by the standards set by previous Japanese first ladies, Miyuki’s behaviour borders on the impertinent. In a TV interview earlier this year, she claimed she had met Tom Cruise in a previous life, in what must have been an unnerving meeting of Scientology and New Age spiritualism.
“I have a dream that I still believe will come true, which is to make a film in Hollywood,” she said. “The lead actor is Tom Cruise, of course. Why? Because he was Japanese in a previous life.”
Cruise, whose closest professional brush with Japanese culture was a leading role in the ludicrous 2003 film The Last Samurai, “would recognise me when I see him and say: ‘Long time, no see!'” —