Born-Again Pols

Can the breakaway team from the country's ruling party deliver on a promise of true reform?

Beneath the heat of TV klieg lights and the crush of security guards at a Tokyo hotel, the structure of Japanese politics began to crumble last week. Tsutomu Hata, three times a Cabinet minister for the Liberal Democratic Party that had ruled the country for 37 uninterrupted years, announced that he and 43 Diet colleagues had quit the L.D.P., forming a new party that would contest parliamentary elections to be held later this month. "Our party has been born to expedite a new wind, a new voice, a new system," said the smooth-talking Hata. "We pledge we will use all our...

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