Japanese Prime Minister starts blogging and Tweeting

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Image by Marcus Vegas via Flickr

We’ve written before about the ways in which politicians are using social media, from US President Barack Obama, to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. These politicians, like many others, are using social media as a way of engaging directly with the public. They often use they use these tools as a way of focusing on specific topics or issues that are of interest to them. And social media can be a great way to open up and bring people inside the organisation and see what is going on and feel like they have a direct connection with those people making decisions. Just as this is beneficial for brands, so it is also beneficial for organisations and governments

The latest world leader to start using social media is Japan’s Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama (鳩山由紀夫). On the 1st January 2010, he started Tweeting (@hatoyamayukio) and blogging (Hato Cafe).

He currently has almost 150,000 followers on Twitter, not bad for his 12 updates. He says in his bio that this account is not just to talk about politics and the updates so far range from politics to insights into Hatoyama’s life and routine. On cold mornings he likes a warming cup of tea and a walk, apparently. Even sharing a video of the pigeons in the garden of the residence from one such walk. On the blog - Hato Cafe (or Dove Cafe) he has reported on his trip to India and his discussions with Japanese astronaut, Soichi Noguchi, from the International Space Station.

On the blog, Hatoyama explains what he is using social media for:

I started this blog as a first step to burying the gap between people and politics as well as changing this country together.

It will be interesting to watch how this use of social media develops and changes. The update so far have been a mix of personal reflections, insights into the Japanese Prime Minister’s life and reflections on official trips and events. He talks about engaging the public in public policy debates via both the blog and Twitter and this would be a fascinating development in the Japanese political landscape where traditionally engaging people online has not been part of policy during elections or governments.

But there is a lot to be said for just using social media to engage people and let them see behind the scenes and into the live and perspective of the Hatoyama himself. Social media tools can be a great way to let people understand more about the individuals - what they do, think and experience. This is, on its own, very important - breaking down barriers between the public and politicians in a way that has previously not been possible to do on such a large scale. Whilst a small number of people might once have heard a Japanese Prime Minister’s story of the birds in his garden as he takes his morning walk, we can now all know about this and even experience it with him through his video. Do not underestimate the importance of this. The more we understand about people the more we engage with them.

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