The Real Scandal Is What's Legal

Just six months ago, it looked as if Japan's calcified political system had entered a new and enlightened age. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi was slowly dragging the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) into the future by racking up incremental but substantial reforms. Meanwhile, a merger between the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) and the Liberal Party last fall had created the nation's first credible opposition party of the postwar era. Led by veteran crusading outsider Naoto Kan, the new DPJ promised to enliven Japan's political stage. Vibrant and serious public debates about the nation's most pressing issues were suddenly common, and...

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