Gunning for Reform

Everyone says Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is a "reformer." The press has variously labeled him a "maverick," a "lone wolf," "unusual" and "colorful." Certainly, Koizumi talks the talk of reform. Running for the premiership in 2001, he promised to pull up, root and branch, the causes of Japan's economic malaise. He would force commercial banks to write off bad debts, privatize Japan's postal savings system and eliminate factional politics within his deeply faction-ridden Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). He insisted that he would not tolerate bureaucratic misconduct. He would reduce waste, clean up the environment and improve education.

The...

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