Japan shares hit 18-year low

JAPAN - Japan's shares have slumped to a new 18-year low.

The fall in recent days has been due to the declining popularity of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi following the controversial sacking of his foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka.

But stocks have been in a gloomy mood all year as promised economic reforms have failed to materialise.

The benchmark Nikkei index finished below a key post-bubble closing low, dropping 156 points to end at 9,475.6, its lowest level since 15 December 1983.

It also