Japanese PM dealt more criticism – from his wife

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The Independent Online

Japan's embattled leader Naoto Kan has again been mauled in public by his famously sharp-tongued wife. Nobuko Kan, 65, told reporters yesterday that she regularly berates her husband and would not marry him again if given a second chance. "I've already lived this life and it's not fun to repeat the same thing," she said. "I would want to have a totally different life."

Asked about the Prime Minister's bruising daily encounters in parliament as he battles to revive Japan's inert economy and reverse a growing social malaise, Mrs Kan, married for 40 years, offered less-than-enthusiastic support. "Considering that he has been a bully himself for years, it's only his due now that he's a member of the ruling party," she said. "I guess the challenge for him is how will he take it? We're both similar personalities: good at attacking people but not so good at taking it."

Mr Kan is struggling to revive public support, which has slipped below 30 per cent six months after he took office. His ruling Democratic Party has retreated on its key pledges and many analysts expect him to step down this year, making him the latest in a string of short-lived Japanese prime ministers. His wife, who has been called her husband's secret weapon, said she never foresaw his rise in politics. "He lost three elections but I supported him as a housewife. I always thought he would give up this kind of work."

She added that she was surprised there is so much interest in her. "I'm nothing special, I think of myself as just a housewife."

Mrs Kan last year revealed her thoughts about her husband in a book that shocked some with its bluntness. Japan's leader is a fashion disaster, a bad public speaker and a poor natural leader, she revealed in "What on Earth Will Change in Japan Now That You Are Prime Minister." Now she says that the book was "the first and last one I'll ever write". Mr Kan calls his wife his toughest critic.