Foreign Policy Blogs

Hatoyama Hits the Web

Yukio Hatoyama, the Japanese Prime Minister, is all over the internet. Indeed, the Democratic Party of Japan has done a good job keeping the Cabinet apace with social media technology. As a result, we now have a portal into the mind of the Japanese PM like never before.

Hato Cafe, the PM’s blog (available only in Japanese), is still in an embryonic stage, having just three posts to date. But it promises to be an interesting space for the PM to consolidate media and reach out to his fellow netizens.

Mr. Hatoyama’s twitter account (available in both English and Japanese) is lively and, although likely edited heavily by his staff, evinces some of his character. It has, however, already caused some consternation for his office: his recent tweet that “I’m going now to attend the ceremony at the Imperial Palace to celebrate the New Year” has raised concerns that the prime minister should not reveal his schedule online for security reasons.

The most substantive of his online materials is the Cabinet newsletter (available for english readers here), a weekly email that spells out the PM’s priorities. These Cabinet newsletters have been around for decades, but they continue to clearly spell out the PM’s agenda.

While it remains to be seen if the DPJ can successfully leverage alternative media into political capital, these sites will prove indispensable for an unfamiliar ruling party that is captive to the twisted, highly biased coverage of Japan’s mainstream print and broadcast media. Michael Cucek at Shisaku puts this all into perspective:

“Rather than giving a clearer view of what is going on in Japan, this direct transmission [of biased news] has instead reflected the prejudices and weaknesses of the original outlets, resulting in the broad dissemination of reporting which is potentially more harsh and negative than the on-the-ground reality would require.”



David Fedman

David Fedman is a PhD student in the History Department of Stanford University where he focuses on modern Japanese and Korean history. He lives in San Francisco, California.