Jackson returns to U.S. after yearlong exile

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Michael Jackson is back in the U.S. after living in Bahrain, France and Ireland. He emerged with his spokeswoman Friday to confirm to the Associated Press that he is back after more than a year in self-imposed exile following his acquittal in a high-profile child molestation trial that ended in June 2005.

They also said he is on the comeback trail and planning a pair of "fan appreciation events" in Japan in March, one of which will charge $3,300 for the opportunity to meet the Gloved One.

"I can confirm that he is in the United States," spokeswoman Raymone K. Bain said. "We don't give out information regarding our client's whereabouts because of safety, and this is just an ongoing policy."

During the brief conference call, Jackson read a statement prepared for the Associated Press about his plans to visit Japan and allowed only one question: How are you? "I'm fine, thank you," was his reply.

Jackson said he has chosen to come back to Japan because of the strong support he enjoys there. "My friends and fans in Japan have been so supportive of me and my family for many, many years," he said. "My fans in Japan helped me achieve historic milestones in the music industry."

Broderick Morris, the promoter working the Japan side of Jackson's trip, said they have sold 220 of 300 tickets to a "platinum VIP party" on March 8. Guests will have dinner, get autographed photos and be able to "meet and greet" Jackson for 30 seconds to one minute, he said.

A less-exclusive party is scheduled for the following day. Jackson is not obligated to perform at either event, and promoters refused to comment on how much Jackson, 48, would be paid.

Jackson made his first official foray back into the spotlight after his acquittal with an appearance -- again, in Tokyo -- to accept MTV Japan's "Legend Award." He is also working on a new studio album, his first since 2001, with the Black Eyed Peas' will.i.am and Akon, among others.
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