The Moment

Yoshikazu Tsuno / AFP / Getty Images

Yukio Hatoyama was no spark plug as Japan's Prime Minister. But when he spoke to TIME earlier this year, he seemed genuinely committed to pulling the nation out of its years-long stasis. Of his Ph.D. days at Stanford University, he said, "I learned from young [Americans] love for one's country." Buoyed at first by a big electoral mandate, Hatoyama converted his patriotism into a sweeping change agenda whose broad aim was to curb the power of the entrenched bureaucracy and of vested interests. In short, Hatoyama wanted nothing less than to transform the way Japan had been run for...

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