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Japan's First Lady-to-Be an Avid Korean Wave Fan

2006/09/05 | 181 views | Permalink | Source

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As Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe looks ever more likely to replace Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi later this month, the spotlight is moving toward his wife Akie Abe (44).

Akie Abe is known to be an avid Korean Wave fan, and in keeping with her stature is a heroine with a big heart. But unlike her husband, who never lets alcohol cross his lips, Akie Abe is fond of a drop and is known for throwing parties and attending gatherings, building the human network for her husband.

Akie Abe is the oldest daughter of Akio Matsuzaki, the former president of Japan's leading confectioner Morinaga & Co, and a graduate of the University of the Sacred Heart, Tokyo. She worked for a time at the country's no. 1 advertising firm Dentsu and in 1987 married Shinzo Abe. Around the same time, Abe's elder brother Hironobu Abe married a daughter of the president of Ushio Denki, a major Japanese firm, giving rise to talk that the marriage was politically motivated. In the 1990s, Akie Abe worked as a FM Radio DJ in her husband's hometown of Shimonoseki.

With this background, her reach extends into the cultural world. For her husband's birthday, she threw a feast and invited figures from the art world and celebrities and introduced them to her husband. She has taken an interest in Shimonoseki local government and attended gatherings for families of people kidnapped by North Korea.

She reportedly enjoyed the drama "Winter Sonata" that kicked off the Korean Wave, and her husband has said many times in public and private that his wife is a big fan of its stars Bae Yong-joon and Park Yong-ha. When Bae was in Tokyo, she reportedly asked her husband to book into the same hotel where the winsome Korean actor was staying so that she might be able to see Bae in person. In September 2004, when the couple visited Korea, they met Park Yong-ha and received a signed album as a gift. Japan's future first lady is taking Korean classes once a week and reportedly make simple conversation.

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