Japan Same Old Story

In the back room, party elders pick a fresh but docile leader

Following its humiliating defeat in last month's upper-house elections, Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party groped for ways to restore its scandal-ridden reputation. Last week the majority of the party threw its support behind a single candidate for Prime Minister, Toshiki Kaifu, 58, but it is doubtful whether his selection has done much to restore the party's honor.

Right after the elections, the L.D.P. announced that it would select a new leader by ballot rather than through the kind of back-room parleying that brought Noboru Takeshita and Sousuke Uno to power. While party members nominated three candidates, senior power brokers reverted to...

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