Stop That Man!

They fumed quietly as Junichiro Koizumi railed against them, and an adoring public feverishly supported him. They held their tongues after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, as Koizumi used the global crisis to fend off critics. But now, with an economy in free fall, the ranks of the jobless swelling and consumer demand shrinking, the bureaucrats so maligned by the populist Prime Minister with the shiny mane are striking back. "It's time for revenge," says a Ministry of Finance careerist.

Civil servants in Japan have always been more than clock-punching paper pushers. Before the Meiji restoration, the...

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