Hatoyama Yukio to Hatoyama-ke Yondai, [鳩山由紀夫と鳩山家四代] (Yukio Hatoyama and the Four Generation Hatoyama Family)

By Seiho Mori

JBR Hatoyama Yukio to Hatoyama-ke Yondai

Chuko Shinsho La Clef, September, 2009, 186 pages, 720 yen

Review by Fumiko Halloran

Yukio Hatoyama is under intense scrutiny as Japan’s new Prime Minister and the leader of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) which finally wrestled power from the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) after its monopoly in governing for over half a century. A flurry of new books have come out on Hatoyama as a person and what his party might do to solve Japan’s domestic and diplomatic problems. Nicknamed the “Alien” because of his enigmatic personality and his wife Miyuki’s even more eccentric behaviour – she claimed that she once flew to Mars and eats the sun every morning – the Japanese public is eager to understand who he is as a person and political leader.

Seiho Mori’s concise book is useful in explaining the prime minister’s extraordinary family history. It goes back four generations to Kazuo Hatoyama, the prime minister’s great grandfather. He was born in 1856 into a samurai family in Okayama Prefecture, three years after Commodore Perry’s black ships appeared in the Uraga Bay and graduated from a school that was later to become the Faculty of Law at Tokyo Imperial University. He studied at Columbia College in New York, then moved to Yale University to receive a masters and doctorate in jurisprudence, and returned to Japan in 1880. He was briefly a lecturer at the Tokyo Imperial University but was soon elected to the Tokyo Metropolitan Legislature. In 1892, he was elected to the House of Representatives and was later appointed as Speaker of the House.

Kazuo’s eldest son, Ichiro, graduated from the Faculty of Law at the Tokyo Imperial University and, after his father’s death, was elected to the Tokyo Metropolitan Legislature. That was followed by winning a seat in the House of Representatives in 1915. Ichiro served as the Chief Cabinet Secretary for Prime Minister Giichi Tanaka and later as the Minister of Education in the Tsuyoshi Inukai’s Cabinet in 1931. In 1943, Ichiro criticized General Hideki Tojo which resulted in his exile to Karuizawa. After the war, Ichiro returned to Tokyo as the president of Nippon Jiyu-to (Japan Liberal Party, later shortened to Jiyu-to) and won a majority in the 1946 House of Representatives election. But GHQ ordered Hatoyama to be purged from public life, which drove him back to Karuizawa. In 1951, he suffered a stroke that paralyzed him. After a partial recover from his illness, Ichiro struggled with Shigeru Yoshida, president of Nippon Jiyu-to, and eventually won the premiership as the president of Nippon Minshu-to (Japan Democratic Party) in 1954. He was instrumental in merging the Jiyu-to (Liberal Party) and Minshu-to (Democratic Party) to form the long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party, which his grandson, Yukio, finally succeeded in unseating. Ichiro’s legacy includes restoring diplomatic relations with the then Soviet Union. He retired from politics in 1956 and died three years later.

Iichiro Hatoyama, Ichiro’s eldest son, was born in 1918. He, too, graduated from the Faculty of Law at the Tokyo Imperial University but chose a bureaucratic career by joining the Ministry of Finance (MOF). Returning from the Imperial Navy duties during the war, he immediately rejoined the MOF and rose to become its vice-minister in 1971. After retirement from MOF, Iichiro was elected to the House of Councilors and was the foreign minister in the Takeo Fukuda Cabinet of 1976. Although his political career was long, he remained in the shadow of his father’s legacy.

Iichiro and his wife Yasuko had two sons, Yukio and Kunio, and a daughter, Kazuko. Following family tradition, both brothers graduated from the University of Tokyo, but Yukio from the Engineering Department with a major in applied physics, and Kunio from the Faculty of Law. Kunio showed an interest in politics even in his childhood and became an assistant to Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka. After Tanaka resigned due to a scandal, Kunio experienced a series of ups and downs, sometimes winning, sometimes losing, in various elections. He is today in the House of Representatives as a member of the LDP and has served as minister of justice and minister of general management in recent cabinets.

Yukio, on the other hand, seemed to be content with an academic career. He studied at Stanford University to earn a doctorate, then returned to Japan and landed on a teaching job at Senshu University in Tokyo. While at Stanford, according to Yukio himself in an interview in “Hatoyama Yukio No Leader-gaku” (鳩山由紀夫のリーダー学 – Study on Leadership of Yukio Hatoyama) published by PHP, he was impressed with Americans who were individualistic, yet would unite as Americans when it came to patriotism. He claims to have chosen the political life and had his own patriotism awakened by his American experience.

In 1986, Yukio was elected to the House of Representatives as a Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) member from a Hokkaido district where the Hatoyama family had long ties with the local community through its working farm. He remained in the LDP until 1993 when he joined a series of minority parties. In 1996, he teamed up with Naoto Kan to form the Democratic Party of Japan, which absorbed other minor parties and eventually merged with the Liberal Party headed by Ichiro Ozawa in 2003. Several publications claim that when Yukio formed the DPJ, his widowed mother Yasuko provided 2.1 billion, repeat billion, yen in campaign expenses. The real power in the Hatoyama family seems to be Yasuko, a frail, soft-spoken, elegant woman whose political insight is respected. Her wealth comes from her parents, the Ishibashi family founders of the Bridgestone Tire industrial empire.

The wives and mothers in the Hatoyama family have been extraordinary as the clan expanded its power through marriages among elite families in political, academic, and business fields. Kazuo Hatoyama’s wife, Haruko, was a pioneer in the higher education of women in early Meiji period. She founded Kyoritsu Joshi Shokugyo Gakko (Kyoritsu Women’s Vocational School, later to be Kyoritsu Women’s School System). Ichiro’s wife, Kaoru, was also an educator, helping Haruko in running the school system and affiliated educational institutions. She was a confidant of her husband Ichiro throughout his career. Iichiro’s wife Yasuko, through her family’s wealth and connections with other prominent families, brought the Hatoyama family a special status on the political power map. Yukio married Miyuki, a former member of the Takarazuka theatre troop. She is a lifestyle consultant and has published several cook books. Kunio’s wife, Emily, is a former model and actress. She was born to an Australian father and a Japanese mother. Both wives have campaigned for their husbands but have not been active in public life like their great grandmother-in-law or grandmother-in-law. Yasuko, their mother-in-law, rarely appears in public.

A different version of this review first appeared on the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR) Japan-US Discussion Forum and is reproduced with permission.

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