New prime minister is hot property on Japan's Internet

Koizumi, who entered office in April, surprised his opponents two weeks ago when he said he planned to start a regular e-mail newsletter. The "Koizumi Cabinet e-mail magazine" distributed its first edition on Thursday and delivered another surprise: between the opening of the subscription list on 9 June and Friday afternoon, 1.35 million Internet users had signed up to receive the newsletter, the Cabinet Office said.

NetRatings Japan estimates there are 28.3 million Internet users in the country. On this basis, the current subscription total -- which has jumped by half a million after media coverage of the first edition -- represents around one in 20 of Japan's Internet users.

"We should consider applying to the Guinness Book of Records," said Shinzo Abe, deputy chief cabinet secretary and editor-in-chief of the newsletter, who was excited by the large public demand.

"Since this is a government's magazine, it might be difficult to apply," said a Cabinet Office spokesman regarding Abe's comment.

The purpose of the magazine is to encourage more people to participate in politics, Koizumi said in a speech announcing the newsletter. The first edition includes an introductory article by Koizumi and essays from three ministers.

The magazine is delivered every Thursday to anybody who registers for a free subscription at the prime minister's web site. Koizumi holds the position of executive editor. The web site, in Japanese, is http://www.kantei.go.jp/jp/m-magazine/.

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