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Record by Japan's next leader hot on net auction

JAPAN'S next leader, Yukio Hatoyama, probably never thought a song he recorded 20 years ago would one day fetch a pretty penny on online auction sites.

The vinyl single, "Take Heart - Fly, Dove of Peace", recorded in 1988 when Hatoyama was first elected to parliament, recently sold for 35,000 yen (US$375) in an online auction, a Japanese tabloid reported.

The title is a pun on Hatoyama's name, the first half of which is written with an ideograph meaning "dove" and which sounds like the Japanese pronunciation of "heart".

Hatoyama, 62, who is the wealthy grandson of a former premier, will formally take office on Sept. 16 following his Democratic Party's stunning victory in an election last week where it trounced the long-ruling Liberal Democrats.

Another copy of the yellow-jacketed record, showing a much younger, grinning Hatoyama, has appeared on a Yahoo! Japan auction with a starting price of 50,000 yen. The auction closes later this week, but so far has no bids.

Teruaki Asanuma, the 65-year-old dentist who wrote the song, used his own funds to make 100 copies of the album and gave them to Hatoyama supporters, according to an Internet news site based in Hatoyama's home district of Hokkaido in northern Japan.

"I never imagined that there would be a day when this tune would come into the spotlight," Kyodo news agency quoted Asanuma as saying. "Now I hope he will help to guide everyone to happiness as suggested in the lyrics of the song."

Japanese media have been digging up video of Hatoyama's formerly less-known artsy side.

TV shows today showed him singing in a musical with his wife Miyuki, a one-time performer in an all-female musical theatre troupe who has also been grabbing headlines for once writing that she travelled to Venus in a space ship.

Hatoyama will make his international political debut as Japan's prime minister at the United Nations later this month, although it is unclear if any musical performances are planned.


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