Mariko Suga gives a speech in Yokohama on Wednesday. Photo: KYODO
politics

Japan's new first lady thanks supporters as husband rises to top post

27 Comments

Mariko Suga, the woman who became Japan's new first lady on Wednesday, gave a rare public speech before supporters of her husband in his constituency in Yokohama, where the native of a rural town in the country's northeast started a political career more than 30 years ago.

"Thanks to you, people of Yokohama, who supported Suga despite his lack of local acquaintances or relatives, he was elected to the (Yokohama) city assembly 33 years ago," said the wife of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who has earned a reputation as a devoted supporter of her husband's political endeavors from behind the scenes.

"He then became a member of parliament, and chief Cabinet secretary, and today, he was elected prime minister. I am immensely indebted to you for your support," the 67-year-old said in a speech that lasted roughly 60 seconds, bowing deeply to supporters who responded with a storm of applause.

Her quiet demeanor is a stark contrast to that of Suga's predecessor Shinzo Abe's wife and former first lady Akie, a socialite who has often posted on social media about meeting with celebrities and other public figures.

Some speculate that Mariko, a native of Shizuoka Prefecture, will likely shrink back from diplomatic engagements as the first lady.

She has tirelessly assisted Suga throughout his career, even though he has rarely, if ever, slept at their home in Yokohama in recent years, instead staying in lawmakers' accommodation near the premier's office to be able to swiftly respond to any emergencies.

Suga, who is also known for his aversion to the limelight, has said he had a hard time convincing his wife to let him run for leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. But in the end, she chose the tie he wore on Sept 2 when he announced his candidacy.

The couple met while Suga was working as a secretary for the late Hikosaburo Okonogi, a former House of Representatives lawmaker, and have three sons.

© KYODO

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

27 Comments
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So far sounds like an improvement over Akie.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

Im not sure "First Lady" is a good translation. Japan is not the US and does not have a Presidential system.

7 ( +13 / -6 )

OssanAmericaToday 07:02 am JST

So far sounds like an improvement over Akie.

At least Mrs. Suga will be sober most of the time.

Fighto!Today 07:45 am JST

Im not sure "First Lady" is a good translation. Japan is not the US and does not have a Presidential system.

Japan's a constitutional monarchy. There is no first lady.

16 ( +17 / -1 )

Im not sure "First Lady" is a good translation. Japan is not the US and does not have a Presidential system.

"First Lady" is just easier for the intellectually challenged to write, because they just want a simple "tag" to identify the "Wife or Spouse" of the Prime Minister.

The media is going to be screwed up pretty bad when a female eventually gets to be PM here, and if she is married, they are going to have to call him or refer to him as "First Gentleman" , but I bet they wont, I bet they will use "Husband of the PM"

6 ( +8 / -2 )

I think Bill Burr put it best.

https://youtu.be/eHLUA9DxcqQ

0 ( +2 / -2 )

"rarely, if even, slept at their home" Too much detail!!!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Totally gay gokai liked Abe's wife Akie because she road a float in the gay pride parade several years ago, along with a group of drag queens. She is a progressive. What does Mariko think?

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

Clutching at straws to humanises the inhuman.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

As Alfie Noakes said, Japan is a monarchy. The wife of the PM is not the first lady. If we must call someone the first lady of Japan, it would be the Empress of Japan. The wife of a prime minister is not called the first lady in any constitutional monarchy.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Actually, she looks more prime ministerial then her husband.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

even though he has rarely, if ever, slept at their home in Yokohama in recent years, instead staying in lawmakers' accommodation near the premier's office to be able to swiftly respond to any emergencies.

So a typical Japanese marriage. Any kids? I wonder if such workaholics can understand the life of average citizens.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

So a typical Japanese marriage. Any kids? I wonder if such workaholics can understand the life of average citizens.

They have three sons, as mentioned in the article... The "rarely, if ever, slept at their home" happened only in recent years due to his status in the political echelon of Japan. That does not speak of a "typical" marriage here because I know far more Japanese old couples who still live together and are of the same age as Mr. Suga and his wife.

Yes, like you, I do worry if workaholic political figures can understand the life of average citizens.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Japan's first lady is the Empress, not the spouse of the Prime Minister.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

"Actually, she looks more prime ministerial then [sic] her husband."

'Than', not 'then'; the sentence is comparative.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Yeah it's just PM's wife. That's it. Pick a constitutional monarchy, which is in at least 25 countries or more and not the dumpster fire of the USA

2 ( +3 / -1 )

She actually looks quite reassuring.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

First lady is an American term. What is wrong with the PM's wife?

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Hopefully Mariko won’t be as arrogant as Akie (or be seen to be)

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Has PM Suga started a political dynasty? Will one of his sons take over his Yokohama seat, become a Diet member, and eventually a cabinet minister? Maybe even prime minister‽

Will the Suga family eventually push out the Abe-Kishida-Abe-Koizumi families? Exciting times here in Ole Japan, ne?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Akie wore the pants before. Wonder which one wears the pants now?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Will one of his sons take over his Yokohama seat, become a Diet member, and eventually a cabinet minister?

Well, nepotism has to start somewhere.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Mariko Suga, has charisma, is humble and naturally smart and bright.

Tirelessly assisted Suga throughout his career.....

Can you even imagine the role reversed?

That is a fair comment.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Totally gay gokai liked Abe's wife Akie because she road a float in the gay pride parade several years ago, along with a group of drag queens. She is a progressive. What does Mariko think?

If this is the only thing that matters in giving her your vote of confidence, then to me at least, it's pretty damn superficial and not based on anything of substance!

Do a little more research on Akie, and then come back and talk about how you support her because she "road a float in a gay parade!"

Hell Shinzo would do the same thing if it meant getting more support!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The only thanks, that should be given regarding Suga, is when he finally departs government service and the damage done begins to subside.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

As Alfie Noakes said, Japan is a monarchy. The wife of the PM is not the first lady. If we must call someone the first lady of Japan, it would be the Empress of Japan. The wife of a prime minister is not called the first lady in any constitutional monarchy.

Show me a Japanese Empress with any power and I'll agree with you.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Never compare human beings.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Akie rode a float at a gay pride parade, posed for photos with anti-Abe protestors, and advocated the legalization of marijuana.

I wonder what this “first lady” will bring?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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