Prime Minister set for a double act on visit to Japan

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The Independent Online
Tony Blair arrives in Tokyo today for a five-day trip during which he will play a dual role, as salesman for Britain, and (through Britain's presidency of the EU) as the high representative of Europe.

On one hand he will need to blow Britain's trumpet at the expense of its European partners, emphasising, for example, Britain's low labour costs and attractiveness as a site for inward investment. On the other hand, he will also be advertising the EU as a crucial partner, not least in the run-up to monetary union. Mr Blair will be in the paradoxical position of selling the joys of EMU on behalf of the European Union, while Britain continues to hesitate about signing on the dotted line.

Mr Blair will also address the problems of former wartime prisoners of Japan, who are demanding compensation. But Britain has made it clear it will not put Japan under pressure on the issue.