Japan's Comic Relief

Japan's politics are pretty much a no-laugh zone, so you might excuse voters in the rural southwestern prefecture of Miyazaki for electing independent candidate Hideo Higashikokubaru—a political neophyte better known as former TV comedian Sonomanma Higashi—to be Governor in a landslide win on Jan. 21. But Higashikokubaru's win may have less to do with entertainment than with public dissatisfaction over Japanese politics, increasingly seen as corrupt and ineffective. His predecessor, also an independent, resigned amid corruption allegations, and scandals have forced two of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's top ministers to resign.

The loss is disquieting for the ruling...

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