Japan's new first lady

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KATY CLARK: I'm Katy Clark. This is The World. Japan has a new Primer Minister; Yukio Hatoyama was sworn in today. His Democratic Party won last month's parliamentary elections. It now replaces Japan's ruling party. The Liberal Democrats, who held control for nearly 50 years. The new Prime Minister promised change. And it's fair to say that his wife, Miyuki Hatoyama, provides some of that. As Akiko Fujita reports, it's not just because of some of the unusual comments she's made.

MIYUKI HATOYAMA: [TV interview on YouTube]

AKIKO FUJITA: First there was this interview that's making the rounds on YouTube. Miyuki Hatoyama claims Tom Cruise was Japanese in a past life. She says she feels a direct connection to him because of that. Then there's the book she put out last year. It's called, The Most Bizarre Things I've Encountered. In it, Mrs. Hatoyama claims that aliens took her soul to Venus while she was sleeping. Not surprisingly, these statements have gotten some attention abroad since her husband's election last month, and they've made her a joke on late night T.V. in the U.S.

CRAIG FERGUSON: She says she's been abducted by aliens.

FUJITA: Japanese political analyst Minoru Morita admits the comments are a little odd. But he says Mrs. Hatoyama is anything but strange. In fact, he says, she represents a bold break from past Japanese first ladies.

MINORU MORITA: [Speaking Japanese]

FUJITA: Morita says Miyuki Hatoyama says what she's thinking whether it's revealing her dreams or her opinions. In a political society where wives are expected to shy away from the public, she is not afraid to come forward. That approach may reflect Mrs. Hatoyama's background. She was born in Shanghai during World War II. She grew up in Japan and became an actress. She moved to the U.S. with her first husband, and was working at a restaurant in San Francisco when she met Yukio Hatoyama. The future Prime Minister was a student at Stanford University. The two began living together and eventually married in 1975. The incoming First Lady hasn't been shy about letting the public in on the couple's personal life. She's talked about everything from her husband's dishwashing skills to the foot massages she gives him at home.

MINORU MOIRTA: [Speaking Japanese]

FUJITA: Analyst Minoru Morita says the Hatoyamas are very close. In fact, Mrs. Hatoyama is her husband's closest advisor. Morita says she brings flare to an otherwise dull politician. He adds, she's a cross between Michelle Obama and Nancy Regan. Mrs. Regan raised some eyebrows herself when it was revealed that she consulted an astrologer about her husband's presidential schedule. The new First Lady's quirks don't seem to bother many in Japan. Her fan base among women here is already growing.

YUKI OBAYASHI: [Speaking Japanese]

FUJITA: In Ginza Tokyo's shopping district, Yuki Obayashi says Mrs. Hatoyama was made to be a first lady. I like that she doesn't fit into a mold. Her friend says that women have been pushed to the back for too long. I want Mrs. Hatoyama to be as aggressive as she can be in public. Morita expects Hatoyama to be the most visible first lady in the country's history. She is already a frequent guest on TV talk shows as a self-described life composer, and made frequent stops on her husband's campaign trail. With a public skeptical about Mr. Hatoyama's ability to deliver on campaign promises, Mrs. Hatoyama may be the person he needs to win them over. For The World, I'm Akiko Fujita in Tokyo.