Firestorm Around The Fortress

Visit Japan's Ministry of Finance on a typical day, and you would be hard-pressed to see it as the nation's single most powerful institution. Behind its hulking brick facade, bureaucrats scurry along creaking parquet floors, darting through poorly lit corridors to doors marked by hand-painted signs. MOF officials take a perverse pride in their shabby quarters, regarding them as proof that the most important ministry in Japan is preserving itself as a bastion of fiscal discipline.

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