TOKYO – When Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi tours Graceland later this month with President Bush, he will be representing a big constituency. Japan has droves of Elvis Presley fans, and the biggest Elvis fan club in all of East Asia.
Koizumi, of course, is the most famous fan.
Last year he serenaded Bush with “I Want You, I Need You, I Love You” at a birthday party for the president. Apparently it made quite an impression – Bush and his wife, Laura, will accompany Koizumi on his June 30 visit to Presley’s estate in Memphis, Tenn.
“It’s exciting,” Jack Soden, chief executive of Elvis Presley Enterprises, said Wednesday about the upcoming visit. “Two world leaders, plus Elvis, plus Graceland.”
The prime minister is just one of thousands of die-hard Japanese Elvis lovers.
The Elvis Presley Fan Club in Japan claims to be the largest in Asia with 5,000 members. Another 2,000 people or so belong to the recently formed Elvis Presley Society in Japan, said society president – and occasional Elvis impersonator – Tomikazu Taguchi.
Some Presleyites are concerned, though, that interest may be waning as Elvis’ fan base ages.
Koizumi has been helping to rekindle the flame.
Fans snapped up all 200,000 copies of a limited-edition charity CD released in 2002 that featured 25 Elvis songs personally selected by Koizumi as his favorites, said Takuya Matsuyama of BMG Japan, which released the album.
Koizumi, who notes with pride that he shares a Jan. 8 birthday with Elvis, will be in the United States from June 28 to 30. He is scheduled to visit the White House on June 29.
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