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#TBT: When the Japanese Prime Minister Sang Elvis and Wore A Cowboy Hat


Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi dons a cowboy hat gifted to him by Asia Society. (Asia Society)

In May 2002, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi attended a dinner hosted by Asia Society in Sydney, Australia, that featured a Japanese bamboo clarinet and harpsichord performance by Australian musicians. At one point, the performers began playing Elvis Presley’s “I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You,” to which Koizumi reportedly began singing along with the Australian foreign minister.

After the performance concluded, Koizumi, a devout Elvis fan who shares a birthday with "the king of rock and roll," took stage, thanked the group for playing his “favorite song,” and said, “Since I became prime minister, I gave up falling in love.” In the above photo, Koizumi dons a rabbit skin cowboy hat given to him by Asia Society.

Each week for "Throwback Thursday" (#TBT), we'll reach into our archives to find a photo from the organization's nearly 60-year history. Some photos will feature important moments, some will feature important people, and others still will just be photos we love. Do you have an Asia Society photo you'd like us to consider including in this series? Please email the photo and any related details to [email protected] (we regret that we won't be able to respond directly to each inquiry).


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