Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, basking in record approval ratings, hopes to score another hit with a weekly Cabinet e-mail magazine.
Koizumi, 58, announced in his first policy speech May 7 that he hopes the “Koizumi Cabinet Mail Magazine,” to be sent out every Thursday beginning in June, will bring him and politics closer to the public.
Japan Internet Com Corp., an Internet business news service, and Infoplant Co., a media research firm, said more than half of the 300 Net users they surveyed were interested in the forthcoming “Koizumi meru maga.”
Many said they valued the chance to get information directly from the e-mail magazine and that it would deepen their interest in domestic politics.
Many said they hoped the Cabinet would use the magazine to respond to the public’s views on the government, while others said they expect explanations of policies in plain language. Those who do not intend to read it said they expect it to run “lies” or be “difficult to understand.”
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda said the magazine will reflect Koizumi’s way of thinking and personality, and daily topics will be provided by his ministers.
It will be sent to readers who have registered their e-mail addresses.
When the plan was announced, Cabinet press officials were perplexed, with one complaining that no additional staff had been assigned to the project.
But Koizumi, whose Cabinet has been getting record approval ratings in the 80 percent range, is simply jumping on a bandwagon already well established in Japan.
Kyoto-based MagMag, Japan’s biggest Internet book-seller, said 12,000 people have said in response to an online questionnaire that they are interested in reading the Cabinet’s e-mail magazine.
MagMag asked respondents to its questionnaire which out of a list of six topics they would most like to see.
Respondents picked as their top choice what Koizumi viewed as the best examples of heckling. Second was “This week’s Makiko-san,” featuring an open give-and-take between Koizumi and outspoken Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka.
The Democratic Party of Japan created its own e-mail magazine on May 8 and had sent out three issues by May 16. Its main item is a column written by party leader Yukio Hatoyama. The party has so far received more than 200 e-mail responses, both positive and negative.
Party officials said the e-mail magazine not only is inexpensive to produce, it makes it possible for politicians to hold one-on-one dialogue with citizens.
A MagMag official echoed this sentiment but added the Cabinet’s version must have a human touch and include Koizumi’s “voice” in some way.
When Koizumi initially made public his idea of setting up the magazine, the Cabinet press office said it would be hard to distinguish it from the already existing Cabinet Web site created in August 1994 when Tomiichi Murayama was prime minister.
Government sources said when the draft of Koizumi’s policy speech was being written, it was proposed that he be described as the e-mail magazine’s managing editor. But the idea was shelved after Koizumi said he would “feel embarrassed” to hold such a post.
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