Japan: When Mori May Be Less

Japan has a new Prime Minister. But will he be anything other than a successful political infighter?

With his bull neck and broad shoulders, Yoshiro Mori looks more like a rugby player than a politician. He is perceived as an overcautious, scandal-tainted back-room dealer with no discernible ideology, little international experience and zero tact. In recent months, he has managed to insult Americans, Okinawans, Osakans, AIDS sufferers and teachers. As for political courage, even friends say he has the heart of a flea. All of which makes Mori, 62, an ideal Prime Minister--at least in the eyes of the long-dominant Liberal Democratic Party, which last week chose him to replace the incapacitated Keizo Obuchi at the helm of...

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