Junichiro cuts a rug with his Hollywood friend. The actor was in Tokyo to promote his latest film Shall We Dance?
Photo: AFP
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Richard is more accustomed to dancing with experts like Jennifer Lopez, but the Japanese PM seemed to be doing just fine
Photo: AFP

29 MARCH 2005

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Japan's prime minister Junichiro Koizumi wasn't expecting anything more than a photo opportunity when he met up with Richard Gere in Tokyo, so he got something of a surprise when he turned to his guest and, in a jokey reference to the actor's latest film, asked; "Shall we dance?"

Richard promptly embraced the 63-year-old and took him for a twirl in front of the cameras. Not the kind of response the Japanese leader is used to, but he seemed to enjoy it nonetheless.

It isn't the first time Junichiro has cast aside the formalities of political protocol to accommodate a visiting star. Two years ago he delighted his nation's movie fans by joining Tom Cruise for a rendition of the Elvis Presley hit I Want You, I Need You, I Love You.

The prime minister had extra reason to smile this time around, after his VIP guest publicly praised him for opposing the European Union's plans to lift an arms embargo against China. Richard is an outspoken supporter of the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who has been living in exile since 1959.

richard gere, junichiro koizumi