Can we follow the Japanese model?
Behind every successful man, there is a woman, usually his wife, goes the saying. The problem arises when before every successful man, there is a woman! No man is a hero to his valet, Carlyle once wrote.
In today’s democratic world where valets are regarded as elitist, it is the wife whose opinion of her hubby is formed over a lifetime of seeing him put on his trousers, one leg at a time, day in and year out! Which could explain why Nobuko Kan’s book about her husband, released recently, is titled
What on earth will change in Japan now that you are prime minister? Naoto Kan took over as Japan’s prime minister in June after Yukio Hatoyama abruptly resigned in the wake of a party-funding scandal and the prolonged controversy over the US military base in Okinawa.
In her book, Nobuko asks, “I wonder is it okay that this man is prime minister because I know him well?” She describes him as a good off-the-cuff speaker but someone more suited to working in a supporting political role.
She criticises his failure to help with the housework, takes note of his bad temper and adds that he just cannot read from a prepared script and that she would not give him a passing-grade for the delivery of his first policy speech in parliament.
She states that Naoto became prime minister by ‘chance’, that his present job could be ‘shortlived’ and that she has, therefore, only brought her summer clothes with her to the PM’s official residence. Nobuko’s book is in tune with the Japanese culture of gently deprecating family members while praising the neighbours.
The book is a bestseller, with a first edition of 15,000 being followed by a second edition of 60,000. The one person who does not intend to peruse the book is Kan who has admitted that “I am scared to read it!” But, then, the book is not exactly an unqualified hagiographic endorsement of the kind leaders’ spouses spin out in India!
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Professor IIM, Bangalore