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Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Thursday launched the inaugural edition of his e-mail magazine, which, with more than 870,000 subscribers, perhaps makes it one of the largest e-mail magazines in the world. The number of subscribers is ballooning by the minute, the government’s public relations division said, noting it increased from 831,000 to 870,000 within two hours Thursday morning.

“My first impression (as prime minister) is that I no longer have freedom of my own,” Koizumi said in the first edition of the magazine. “It is like a bird trapped in a cage 24 hours a day.”

Since he assumed the nation’s top post, his activities have been restricted because bodyguards are always with him wherever he goes, Koizumi lamented.

The magazine, dubbed Lion Heart after a song by the pop music group SMAP, also carries messages from Finance Minister Masajuro Shiokawa. ; Land, Infrastructure and Transport Minister Chikage Ogi; and Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Minister Atsuko Toyama. Shiokawa, who has known Koizumi for 30 years, recalls how Koizumi had no intention of becoming a politician after his father, Junya, suddenly passed away.

“He was studying economics at a university in the U.K., and I think he wanted to be a scholar,” Shiokawa said. “I never dreamed he would become a prime minister then.”

Although Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda said the huge number of subscribers was “unexpected,” he said he hoped more people will come to be interested in politics.

The magazine is published every Thursday. For registration, visit www.kantei.go.jp/jp/m-magazine/

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