Japan: PM Hatoyama Starts Using Twitter

Have something you want Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama to know? You could try tweeting about it to @hatoyamayukio!



All links in this post link to Japanese content unless otherwise noted.

The Prime Minister started using Twitter during the new year holidays as a means to “bring politics to the people”, in addition to the existing Kantei TV and a mailing list. He also has a new blog called Hato Cafe (鳩Cafe or “Pigeon Cafe”).

Following some confusion with a fake Twitter account [en], his first tweet was sent on Dec 31st, 2009 5:49 PM.

みなさん、あけましておめでとうございます。今年もよろしくお願いいたします。今日からツイッターとブログ「鳩cafe」を始めました。http://bit.ly/7OSH1o ご感想など@hatoyamayukioへお寄せください。馴れるまでは1日1ツイートが目標です。

Happy New Year, everyone! Best wishes to all in the coming year. Starting today, I have begun my Twitter and blog Hatocafe. Please send your thoughts and impressions to @hatoyamayukio. http://bit.ly/7OSH1o I am aiming to do one tweet a day until I get used to this.

(The translation above is quoted from @hatoyama_y_en, which is run by translation service MyGengo.)

The initiative is the brain child of the “Civilian Working Group to Shorten the Distance between Citizens and Politics” (国民と政治の距離を近づけるための民間ワーキンググループ). Members include playwright Oriza Hirata, blogger and art director Naoyuki Sato, CEO of eWoman, Inc. Kaori Sasaki, and art director Yuji Tokuda. Tokuda also designed the blog.

@hatoyamayukio's follower count is growing steadily, and is around 139,000 as of January 9th.

Is it really him?

This was the focus of discussion for the first few days and the very first issue that @hatoyamayukio addressed by clarifying that the PM sends a draft of his tweets by e-mail to his secretary, who posts it to Twitter.

This disappointed many people, as voiced by Makoto Chikazoe:


The Prime Minister says “Basically I write the tweets” but actually, it's his secretary that's posting the tweets after discussing the content with their staff. Many Twitter users were looking forward to hearing the “real voice of the PM”. What we're receiving is the voice of the PM filtered through many people, which makes using Twitter pointless since this is already available through traditional press conferences, television, and newspapers.

Akky from Ajiajin [en] has a different opinion:

Although many internet users expressed their disappointment to it, I personally don’t think that prime minister himself/herself should tweet on their mobile gears. It is reasonable as well as US president Obama never used Twitter.

Is he really reading our tweets?

Obviously, this was the next big question. The answer? Perhaps.


I've received comments about me following all of you, such as, “Are you really reading this?” and “Can you follow this many people?” I certainly cannot read everything, but the monitor in my office regularly displays your comments. And by reading them, I hope to hear as many of your voices as possible.

(Again, the translation is from @hatoyama_y_en.)

Hato Cafe

Hato Cafe

Follow back

@hatoyamayukio will follow everyone who follows him. This is called follow-gaeshi (フォロー返し, literally “follow back”), an action that is considered by many in the Japanese twittersphere to be good etiquette.

The Japanese official site guide twitnavi published a post titled “Please wait a while longer to be followed by Prime Minister Hatoyama” on January 2nd, explaining that there is a limit on the system's side.

Tweets for @hatoyamayukio

@hatoyamayukio hasn't replied to anyone (yet?) but the editorial desk at Mainichi Shimbun @mainichijpedit is hopeful:

@HatoyamaYukio 総理!「Twitterの女王」こと歌手の広瀬香美 @kohmi さんとの勉強会にご参加いただけないでしょうか?毎週水曜日に一緒に政治や経済の勉強をしています。ご検討ください! #kokkokokko

@hatoyamayukio Prime Minister! Will you participate in a study session with the singer Kohmi Hirose @kohmi aka “Queen of Twitter”? We get together every Wednesday to study politics and economics. Please give this a thought! #kokkokokko

@yamachan_run recently started Twitter:

@hatoyamayukio首相が始めたことがきっかけで、ツイッターに登録してみました。 首相がブログ・ツイッターをどのように使いこなして見せるのかすごく気になります。

@hatoyamayukio I registered with Twitter because you started tweeting. I'm really interested to see how you will leverage your blog and Twitter.

Comments from blogger Satonao

One of the signs that the Prime Minster was going to dip his toes into social media came when blogger Naoyuki Sato, better known as Satonao, was invited to have dinner with him. Curious, we posted [en] about the seemingly random event last October.

At that time, Satonao reported:

鳩山さんは Twitter 自体を知らなかったようだけど、とても素直に耳を傾けてくれた(どんな話題にも辛抱強く丁寧に相手の目を見て耳を傾ける人だった)。でもまぁなんというか、Twitter を理解してもらうことの難しさよ(笑)

It seemed like Hatoyama-san hadn't heard of Twitter but he listened to me speak very intently. (He was someone who listens politely and patiently, regardless of the subject, while looking straight at the speaker's eyes.) Oh but Twitter is so difficult to explain! (laugh)


The Prime Minister watched me tweet and read everyone's replies to them. I think he became really interested as I showed him different things. My killer line was “Obama uses it, too!” (laugh) It's impossible for a closed world to open up in an instant. Take one step at first. Slowly. Slowly.


  • Thanks for the mention! @hatoyama_y_en has over 300 followers now! We think it’s great that Prime Minister Hatoyama is reaching out to people via Twitter, and we want to provide non-Japanese speakers a chance to join in the conversation as well.


  • Kayla

    I think it’s great that ur really connecting with ur people. I came across this because i was looking for an article for social studies. Got any ideas?

  • […] year as well. Twitter was at the center of attention, as its 140 character-long-messages were used by important people like former prime minister and were considered an important tool to create a social network and possibly to help prevent […]

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