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Two months before retiring at the peak of his popularity, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who arrives in Israel this evening on an official visit, wishes to increase his country's involvement in the Middle East. As the biggest donor to the Palestinian Authority after the European Union, Japan feels it is time to cash in on its investment by becoming a mediator between the two sides.

Koizumi's charm and good looks have endeared him to the Japanese, who had become accustomed to staid politicians. They admire his integrity and hawkish foreign policy; but his claim to fame is attributed to his colorful personality. He is a fan of new technologies and arrived to work a few months ago on a Segway.

Before retiring, Koizumi wants to take advantage of the international recognition he has won to raise Japan's international profile. He is expected to declare Japan's wish to mediate in the Middle East conflict in addition to contributing funds to rehabilitate the PA. Those contending for his job may be less charismatic, but are expected to implement a similar foreign policy.