Japan's Holy Wildcard

For decades Japan has effectively been a one-party state ruled by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). But last month's parliamentary elections changed the nation's political landscape—perhaps for good. Though the LDP kept control of the government, voters punished it for its failure to reform the economy by handing it a smaller mandate and by giving the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) large gains in the Diet. Suddenly, pundits were holding forth about two-party democracy breaking out in Japan. Actually, they should have been talking about a three-party system.

Little known outside Japan, the New Komeito is an...

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