TOKYO: Japan and Britain have much in common - superficially at least. Although 5,937 miles distant in opposite hemispheres, both are a group of small islands with a constitutional monarch and a global influence disproportionate to their geographic size.

Unsurprisingly, there is a marked (if usually friendly) rivalry between the nations, that this week developed into a seeming battle of their figureheads.

Last month, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II ventured into the 21st century with her very own YouTube website. Promptly followed this month by Japanese prime minister Yasuo Fukuda.

His already somber image underscored by a black suit, gray tie and immobile expression, Fukuda speaks in English about the challenges facing the world in the coming year and promises to play a leading role in finding solutions.

In the five-minute video, set against a backdrop of leather-bound books at his official residence, Fukuda speaks of the many global problems.

"Of these challenges, those that concern the environment seriously affect all who live on this earth." Promises the premier: "We will contribute to creating a world where people can live peacefully."

The webcast appeared on the YouTube LDP Channel, launched last month by Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff