, TOKYO, Jan 2 – Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has launched a blog and started using Twitter in a New Year bid to reach out to the public at a time when his ratings have tumbled.
Hatoyama began using the microblogging service Twitter and launched a fully fledged blog, both in Japanese, starting Friday.
"Happy New Year everyone," he said in his first tweet, stressing that he had written it himself. "My target is to send one tweet a day for now until I get used to it."
San Francisco-based Twitter, which has won tens of millions of users with the service that allows people to pepper one another with 140-character or less messages, launched its Japanese service in April 2008.
In his blog, titled Hato cafe, Hatoyama said: "I started this blog as a first step to burying the gap between people and politics as well as changing this country together."
He also uploaded to the blog a picture of his office roof against a backdrop of blue winter sky, explaining that he took the picture with the camera on his mobile phone.
The Twitter account is http://twitter.com/hatoyamayukio, while his official blog is at http://hatocafe.kantei.go.jp/
Support for Hatoyama\’s cabinet has dipped below 50 percent for the first time according to major opinion polls released last month. Voters criticised his lack of leadership and a funding scandal.
In his blog, Hatoyama apologised for a political funding scandal that has embroiled a former aide, saying: "I gave a lot of trouble to many people last year. Listening to the people\’s voice, I want to do my best to fulfil my duty."
Prosecutors indicted Hatoyama\’s former aide, Keiji Katsuba, in late December for allegedly misreporting millions of dollars of donations, but did not indict the prime minister due to a lack of evidence.
The indictments came after a difficult first 100 days in office for the political blue-blood, whose August election victory ended more than half a century of almost unbroken conservative rule in the world\’s number two economy.
Online political activity remains rare in Japan as the law prohibits campaigning on the Internet ahead of national elections.
But young politicians have recently started launching blogs and using Twitter and communications minister Kazuhiro Haraguchi has said the government may consider lifting the ban.