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Getting Personal With the New Prime Minister

2 minute read

During his campaign to win over Liberal Democratic Party members before he succeeded in becoming Prime Minister last week, Junichiro Koizumi spoke with TIME Tokyo bureau chief Tim Larimer and reporter Sachiko Sakamaki. A fuller text can be found online at timeasia.com. Excerpts:

TIME: Some personal questions. What is the last book you’ve read?
Revenge, a historical novel about revenge killings (among samurai), by Akira Yoshimura.

TIME: What’s the best film you’ve seen in the last year?
The Hurricane. Denzel Washington. And The Legend of Bagger Vance. Matt Damon.

TIME: Those are both sports films. Are you a sports fan?
I used to play baseball. Now I only watch.

TIME: What position?
Third base.

TIME: Are you a Tokyo Giants fan?
No. Anti-Giants!

TIME: You’re a consistent maverick.
I like the Yokohama Bay Stars.

TIME: Why?
They’re my constituents!

TIME: What do you think about Japanese players like Ichiro Suzuki playing in the U.S. Major Leagues?
It’s the dream of Japanese players. I’m very happy they can play equally with American players. We used to think the Americans played at a much higher level. The national sport in Japan is sumo, but the Japanese love baseball even more. Baseball is America’s national sport, but it has become Japan’s national sport as well. Japanese fans watch the Japanese players in America with interest and joy. The American games on TV are more popular than the Japanese games.

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