Reform Japanese Style

-- Five years and seven governments after Japan first began grappling with political reform, the nation's Diet has adopted a sweeping plan aimed at cleaning up politics. The first major redistricting since 1925 replaces multiseat constituencies in the Diet's powerful Lower House with single-seat ones.

Under the old system, candidates from the same party often ran against each other, competing less on issues than on how much money they could spend. This led to corruption scandals that brought down several governments. The theory is that in the new system, money will be less of a factor because each party will field only one candidate per district. The new plan goes into effect on Dec. 25, but it may not be used until 1997 when elections must be held.

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