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Tweet Tweet; Hatoyama Gone Digital

In a bid to capture the attention of a cell phone obsessed nation and in order to appeal to younger voters, Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has stolen from the political play book of successful American politicians including Barak Obama. Hatoyama's office recently launched his blog and a Twitter account to connect the Prime Minister with the public.

Hato Cafe, the blog started by the Hatoyama team features a small bird character, above duel speech bubbles and a green backdrop. The blog has been up and running for a little over two months and debuted during the lead-up to New Years. According to an article in January on Japan Trends the blog was designed by Yuji Tokuda and the Hatoyama team really thought out the layout and visual presentation of the blog before launching the project.(1)

Hatoyama has also been collecting followers on Twitter. As of writing Hatoyama has 307,813 followers and has posted 59 Tweets. He is apparently following nearly 37,000 Tweeters. His Twitter page can be accessed at http://twitter.com/hatoyamayukio. As a comparison Barak Obama has over 3 million followers.

The “Twitterscape” and the “blogsphere” are apparently the newest equivalent of Roosevelt's Fireside Chats. To think that only a few years ago the political communication buzzword was “town-hall meeting.” These staged overtly friendly political love sessions were most recently mastered by Bush Jr. The move to a more open line of communication coming out of the offices of world leaders has increased the profile of those politicians successfully harnessing the digital revolution.

Hatoyama has broken out into the digital realm with power and with panache, well sort of. His start into Twitter and blogs and generally increasing his on line persona has come later than it should have, but none-the-less, he is the first Japanese politician to embrace the new tools at his disposal in any notable manner. In the lead up to the last election many young voters and political commentators were wondering why Taro Aso, Hatoyama and the other candidates were not capitalizing on the success of the Obama electronic election model.

“US President Barack Obama's use of the Web helped catapult him into the White House but lawmakers in Japan have been slower to embrace the Internet, leaving many young voters feeling disconnected with the political process.” (2)

The Prime Minister's move to electronic communication tools is a positive step forward for the political process in Japan and as the Democratic Party of Japan finds their footing and begins ruling with new policies and new ideas, they are going to grow more effective over time. Hatoyama has followed up the release of his on line “Hato Cafe” with real interactive sessions at the official residence to discuss issues with a cross-section of people. His first session of “Real Hato Cafe” was held this past weekend and the focus of the discussions was child care and parental issues. In the promotional photos of the meeting the “Hato Cafe” duel speech bubble and bird logo is clearly visible at the head of the table. According to the Cabinet Public Relations Office web-site, “A total of ten people who are raising children were invited to the first Real Hato Cafe meeting to exchange views on child raising, among other matters. Real Hato Cafe meetings will continue to be held under various themes.” (3)

One thing remains certain, Hatoyama continues to find his own way to govern and his march towards new methods of communication have certainly been a step in the right direction.

(1) http://www.japantrends.com/yukio-hatoyamas-blog-and-twitter-japanese-pol...
(2) http://english.sina.com/technology/2009/0803/260457.html
(3) http://www.kantei.go.jp/foreign/hatoyama/actions/201002/14hatocafe_e.html

Comments

That's interesting

If only matters were as simple and civil as portrayed in the photo on the Kantei page. Maybe Hatoyama could invite the US Marines over for some coffee and talk about Futenma? ;-)

Shawn
Let's Japan.org::Blog

That's shockingly progressive.

Thumbs up.

I wouldn't describe Obama as successful now.

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