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Japan PM Picks Favorite Elvis Tunes

Elvis Presley fans in Japan will soon get to hear a collection of standards picked by the nation's wildly popular prime minister.

The disc, "Junichiro Koizumi Presents: My Favorite Elvis Songs," will hit Japanese record shops next Wednesday, Katsumi Miyata, a spokesman for BMG Funhouse, Inc., a subsidiary for international music company BMG, said Thursday.

"The CD wouldn't have been released if Mr. Koizumi wasn't the prime minister," Miyata said. "We are expecting that this Elvis CD would also attract fans of Mr. Koizumi."

Since taking office in late April, Koizumi has enjoyed record popularity, with approval ratings as high as 90 percent. That brought his ruling Liberal Democratic Party a sweeping victory in July parliamentary elections and increased sales at a tiny souvenir shop at party headquarters.

The shop is usually packed with people buying Koizumi T-shirts, mugs, hand towels and posters. The record label hopes the Koizumi boom will lead to strong sales. Proceeds of the 2,427-yen ($20.40) CD will go to charity, Miyata said.

The 25-song CD, commemorating the 24th anniversary of Presley's death in August of 1977, will only be released in Japan and the record company plans an initial shipment of 50,000 discs.

It contains such Presley hits as "I want You, I need You, I Love You," "Are you Lonesome Tonight?" and "It's Now or Never."

The CD's front cover shows a photo of a smiling Koizumi - with his trademark wavy, long hair - next to Elvis. In a statement sent to the Elvis fan club in May, Koizumi wrote: "My birthday is January 8, the same as Elvis. It's one of the things I'm so proud of."

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