January 2nd, 2010


To ring in the new year, Japan’s Prime Minister, Yukio Hatoyama has launched a very social looking portal site called Hatocafe as a special part of his official cabinet website, Kantei (kind of like the Japanese Whitehouse).

The first thing that is striking about this is the visual style. Its a particularly Web 2.0 style website with a friendly feel, a lot of space and nice sized fonts. Those lovely big speech bubbles and the pigeon complete a distinctly Web 2.0 looking logo to go with it.

NOTE: The kanji used for “Hato” in Hatoyama’s name is the symbol for pigeon or dove, thus the strategic placement of the bird.

The site is still light on content, one rather plain post and a few links, but I still remain interested in where this is going. This is a very fresh move for Japanese politics and is probably keeping an open mind to trying new things to stay ahead is one of the reasons Hatoyama got into power in the first place.

He does include a brief introduction on the left of what this site is which basically translates as “This is a place where you can have a direct communication with him and so he can listen to what people think and respond  … blah blah blah”, you get the picture. Nice sentiment, nicer when they follow through.

So, that bit about communication … unfortunately no comments section on his posts. The way he wants people to communicate is via Twitter, which has no direct display on this website.

To enable that, he has created a Twitter account, @hatoyamayukio, to which you should direct comments.

At the time of writing he already had almost 40,000 followers and my guess is that this number will be growing quickly. So far he is pulling an Oprah and only has one post, but at least he follows almost a thousand people.

So far this is pretty much an Obama copycat move… it worked for Obama, so I can’t fault that.

What would be very interesting to me is to see if any real listening and response goes on. We all know this isn’t actually Hatoyama that will monitor these posts, but what will happen when the multitudes start talking? Maybe they need Press Army? 😉

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