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Diplomacy Koizumi-Style

Economic troubles are likely to shadow Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi as he travels abroad this month. On Sept. 11, he will attend one-year memorial services in New York for the victims of last year's terrorist attack, and he will meet with President Bush a day later. Then, on Sept. 17, the Premier will travel to Pyongyang for an important, but largely symbolic, summit with North Korean Leader Kim Jong Il in a bid to reestablish diplomatic ties severed since the end of World War II.

That will make for nice photo-ops but won't deflect criticism that Koizumi has done little to revive the economy or Japanese stock prices, which fell to a 19-year low on Sept. 4. Polls show Koizumi's approval rating at anywhere between 45% to 50%, a far cry from the 70% levels he enjoyed when he took office 16 months ago. EDITED BY Edited by Rose Brady

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