Japan Sand in a Well-Oiled Machine

As kinken-seiji -- money politics -- claims Takeshita and his aide, the Japanese anxiously wonder, What next?

Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita persevered for months, but last week his determination to weather the burgeoning Recruit scandal gave out. The meticulous planner and quintessential clubman of Japanese politics surprised his country by abruptly announcing that he would quit his post "to regain the trust of the people." Yet his departure had been a long time coming, as pressure built for months over what the Japanese call kinken-seiji, or money politics, the well-oiled system by which the nation's leaders attain power.

The Prime Minister clung to his job until a weekend news story reported that Ihei Aoki, his right-hand man, had...

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