Advantage, Hashimoto

He'll likely call elections soon

Ryutaro Hashimoto has certainly had a good run since assuming the Premiership last January. His coalition government, led by his Liberal Democratic Party, has deflected public outrage over a $6 billion bailout of corrupt housing-loan thrifts. It has soothed U.S. trade relations without big concessions. Japan's $5 trillion economy has snapped out of a four-year funk. And the opposition New Frontier Party has so far proved about as alluring as day-old sashimi.

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