Japan A Back-Room Man Steps Forward

Nakasone taps Takeshita as his successor

In the harsh glare of television lights and strobe flashes, the 63-year-old man seemed tired. His fatigue was understandable. For months, Noboru Takeshita had been the front runner among three candidates to succeed Yasuhiro Nakasone, Japan's popular Prime Minister. But though he controlled the largest bloc of votes in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (L.D.P.), Takeshita did not have enough to take the office outright. Negotiations to persuade his rivals to withdraw were deadlocked. By 10 p.m. on the eve of a party vote, Takeshita, the consummate dealmaker, had realized there were no more deals to make. He reluctantly left the...

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