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TOKYO -- The weather is getting warmer, a host of Tokyo's technology shares are starting to rebound, and new mutual funds are popping up like mushrooms.

With things looking up again, it's a fine time to kick back and relax. And that's exactly what Tokyo traders will be doing in the coming week, when a string of national holidays turns into Golden Week here. Although markets are open on Monday and Tuesday, the entire nation virtually shuts down for the week. The rush is already on as people head for the rails and highways, anxious to get

someplace else

. According to the

Japan Travel Bureau

, Japan's largest travel agency, most travelers, about 21 million of them, will be staying within Japan.

Yet not everybody will remain within the national borders. Prime Minister

Yoshiro Mori

is off touring the world, meeting his

Group of Eight

counterparts in a whirlwind nine-day tour that will conclude with a meeting with President

Bill Clinton

on Friday. It's the first trip for Mori, who took over Japan's top spot after former Prime Minister

Keizo Obuchi

was stricken early in April.

The new premier, who has little experience in diplomacy, may have a tough time with Clinton. The nagging issue about the high interconnection charges of

Nippon Telegraph & Telephone


likely will be atop the agenda. At issue: The former monopoly still dominates the phone market here, where other domestic and foreign carriers have to pay NTT for the usage of their phone lines. High-level talks scheduled for Monday and Tuesday were abruptly canceled before Mori left, when officials decided Japan didn't have much to offer the U.S.

The U.S. insists NTT cut its fees -- which are estimated to be 4.5 times higher than what U.S. local carriers charge -- by about 40% over the next four years. NTT, which is 53%-owned by the Japanese government, is refusing, suggesting it could cut charges by 22.5% over the same period. All this wrangling has put pressure on NTT shares, which are down about 19% over the past six months.

This, despite its 67.1% ownership of Japan's top mobile phone carrier



. The number of mobile phone users topped those of land phone users for the first time last month, and NTT DoCoMo's I-mode Net service is the most popular in Japan, where children shoot messages (called short mail) over the phone. And the 20% jump in the firm's share price over six months proves how important it is for NTT to own DoCoMo.

Both the U.S. and Japan want some kind of agreement on NTT's fees before the July


summit in Okinawa. For Japan, officials are eager to tell the world that despite a surprise change in leadership, business can run as usual. They'll also want to reassure their G8 counterparts that their economy is finally back on track, despite some troubling data such as retail sales, which fell 3.5% from a year earlier in March, down for 36 consecutive months.

And because Mori wants to stay on as premier after the summer elections, there's already talk of another economic stimulus package brewing in the markets.

"Besides discussing NTT, Mori could jump the gun and talk about macroeconomic issues with Clinton. There already are reports that the next supplementary budget could be as much as 1 trillion yen ($9.4 billion), with about half of that going towards public works projects," says Yasunari Ueno, chief market economist at

Fuji Securities


With political instability at home (some of LDP's coalition partners are already asking Mori to step down on the basis that the party covered up Obuchi's medical condition) and the fight over NTT, it doesn't look as if Mori will have a golden week after all.