JAPAN: LET THE GAMES BEGIN

JAPAN'S NEW LEADER, RYUTARO HASHIMOTO, FACES BRASH ICHIRO OZAWA IN A CONTEST UNLIKE ANY BEFORE

RYUTARO HASHIMOTO, WHO BECAME Japan's Prime Minister last Thursday, is not the typical Japanese politician. With his good looks, sideburns and slicked-back hair, he is a sex symbol. He once greeted U.S. trade negotiators wearing a green leather suit. And in a culture in which the supreme recreational passion is golf, Hashimoto likes scaling mountains (he was part of two Everest expeditions) and has practiced kendo, a Japanese style of fencing, on the roof of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry headquarters in downtown Tokyo.

As a vibrant, telegenic figure, a man with a temper and a flair for the...

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