Japan's new first lady a devoted wife who shuns spotlight

Kyodo News

Posted at Sep 16 2020 05:27 PM

TOKYO - Mariko Suga, the woman who became Japan's new first lady on Wednesday, has been a devoted supporter of her husband Yoshihide's political endeavors from behind the scenes.

The 67-year-old's quiet demeanor is a stark contrast to that of Shinzo Abe's wife and former first lady Akie, a socialite who has often posted on social media about meeting with celebrities and other public figures.

Some speculate that Mariko, a native of Shizuoka Prefecture, central Japan, will likely shrink back from diplomatic engagements as the first lady.

She has tirelessly assisted Suga throughout his career, even though he has rarely, if ever, slept at their home in Yokohama in recent years, instead staying in lawmaker's accommodation near the premier's office to be able to swiftly respond to any emergencies.

Suga, who is also known for his aversion to the limelight, has said he had a hard time convincing his wife to let him run for leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. But in the end, she chose the tie he wore on Sept. 2 when he announced his candidacy.

The couple met while Suga was working as a secretary for the late Hikosaburo Okonogi, a former House of Representatives lawmaker, and have 3 sons.