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Friday, Feb. 2, 2007

LDP launches lineup of Abe goods to boost sagging support

Staff writer

How about drinking coffee from a mug with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's face on it? Or making a cell phone call with Abe dangling from a chain? Or Abe-embossed clear folders, pens and memo pads?

Amid sagging popular support for the Abe Cabinet, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party announced a new line of "Abe goods" Thursday aimed at lifting the embattled leader's image.

Although most of the products do not bear Abe's campaign slogan, "Japan -- A Beautiful Country," LDP lawmakers Koji Futada and Satsuki Katayama, his acting PR representatives, stressed that each item is "made completely in Japan."

Katamaya said the products are based on the color blue, known to be favored by the prime minister, to express his relatively young age of 52.

Aside from the "keitai" straps, which will be available from Feb. 20, the products are ready for sale at a shop in LDP headquarters in Tokyo. Katayama said Abe's wife, Akie, has already ordered 100 mugs.

Compared with goods featuring his popular predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi, Abe's goods seem rather plain. When Koizumi was in power, the LDP went all out on the goods campaign, throwing in extra items like T-shirts, stickers and towels in bright colors.

But with two key members of the government resigning over scandals and a third under fire for labeling women "child-bearing machines," things are definitely looking "blue" for the LDP.

See related stories:
Yanagisawa ouster calls linger
DPJ, allies boycott over Yanagisawa
Opposition ranks want Yanagisawa axed before deliberating on budget
Yanagisawa sexist remark draws Abe ire

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The Japan Times

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