Standing Tall

Japanese political life is usually as exciting as a Noh play. But the events leading up to September's Diet election had all the thrills of a sumo smackdown. In August, the Diet had voted down one of the most cherished reform projects of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi—a plan to privatize the government postal system, which, among other things, is the world's largest savings bank. Koizumi then made good on a threat many had considered a bluff. He dissolved the Diet's lower house and called a snap election, positioning the vote as a referendum on whether the people wished to cling to...

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