Japan: Hashimoto's Party Is Riding Reform To Triumph

Financial scandals, yawning budget deficits, a fits-and-starts economy. Such things usually spell death to political careers. Not so with Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto. After 19 months in office, Hashimoto is shaping up to be the most effective Japanese leader at home and abroad since Yasuhiro Nakasone in the mid-1980s. One big reason is that his Liberal Democratic Party, once viewed as beholden to vested interests, has outmaneuvered rivals by crusading for economic reform. Concedes a senior member of the opposition New Frontier Party: "They have played their cards very deftly."

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