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Thursday, 16 August, 2001, 13:42 GMT 14:42 UK
Koizumi and the King
Japanese Elvis impersonator
Japanese fans are marking the day Elvis died
Many people make compilations of favourite songs but it takes a prime minister to get a nationwide audience for them - which is exactly what is about to happen in Japan.

Junichiro Koizumi's personal selection of favourite Elvis Presley songs is to be launched by a record company on Wednesday as a CD.

The BMG Funhouse, Inc record label makes no secret of wanting to cash in on the PM's popularity with "Junichiro Koizumi Presents: My Favourite Elvis Songs".

And if the CD does not add to the King of Rock and Roll's already huge popularity in Japan, it may do wonders for his number one fan after a tricky week in politics.

Anniversary tribute

"The CD wouldn't have been released if Mr Koizumi wasn't the prime minister," BMG Funhouse spokesman Katsumi Miyata admitted.

BMG seems to hope that having the prime minister's blessing - the front cover shows a photo of his smiling face - will do wonders for sales.

Tracks included in the Koizumi compilation
Are you Lonesome Tonight?
It's Now or Never
I want You, I need You, I Love You
"We are expecting that this Elvis CD would also attract fans of Mr Koizumi," Mr Miyata said.

According to one report, Mr Koizumi even found time to write the sleeve-notes for the album, which, the record company said, commemorates the 24th anniversary of Presley's death.

The initial run for the 25-track CD, which is to be released only in Japan and will sell for just over $20, is 50,000 units.

Bad month for Elvis fans

Mr Koizumi has some claim to a special kinship with Elvis - they share the same birthday, 8 January.

His love of the King is shared by millions of Japanese, some of whom have been out marking the anniversary of his death on 16 August with renditions of his songs.

But the prime minister may have other reasons to be blue this August.

Junichiro Koizumi
Japan's prime minister is no stranger to stardom himself
A nationwide opinion poll taken as he was preparing to visit the controversial Yasukuni war shrine showed a fall in his government's popularity of 5.1 points.

It is a worrying sign for the man who swept to power this year on a tide of public adulation of Presley proportions and who will soon be needing all the support he can get for his reform programme.

Kaori Shoji, Tokyo based journalist
"We have come to expect this from him"
See also:

14 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
Protests mount over Koizumi's shrine visit
01 Aug 01 | Showbiz
Japanese PM's son seeks limelight
26 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Koizumi winning popularity stakes
16 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Elvis: The way he was
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