Ervis The King

The president is clearly delighted by the splendid Japanese prime minister, who must be a refreshing change from the pompous blowhards he usually hosts. But he also looks a bit puzzled – here’s why.

AP June 30: Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, wearing sunglasses belonging to Elvis Presley, pretends to play a guitar.

President Bush’s going-away present to Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi was some kind of “Good Luck Charm.” Amid the ceramic monkeys, floor-and-ceiling green shag carpet and animal-head armrests of Graceland’s Jungle Room, the delighted prime minister just couldn’t hold back the Elvis lines.

“You’re a pretty good Elvis singer,” the president said, in an obvious prompt to his guest. Bush knew what was coming, having previously experienced Koizumi’s tendency to burst into song when it comes to the late rock ‘n’ roll legend who is the Japanese leader’s undisputed musical hero.

Koizumi quickly complied. “Love me tender,” he sang. “Wise men say, `Only fools rush in.’ “

No business visit to Japan is complete without an extended, somewhat drunken Karaoke session, and you’ll find your hosts know most Elvis & Beatles songs by heart.

The pleasure is amplified for all parties by the Japanese substitution of the letter “R” for the letter “L” – thus: “I am honored to meet your rubbery wife”.

So Mr. Koizumi will have sung “Rove Me Tender” and “Onry Foors Rush In” – hence the president’s expression.

I believe the L->R substitution to be a complicated Japanese joke. But when I confront my Japanese friends on this, they just raugh evirry.


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