Commentary: Japan: Obuchi Just May Surprise Everyone

Keizo Obuchi, the newly elected Liberal Democratic Party chief and incoming Japanese Prime Minister, is best known for a self-effacing personality and mediocre record. But former Prime Minister and LDP elder statesman Yasuhiro Nakasone, a onetime rival and still hardly an admirer of Obuchi, thinks the new leader nonetheless has a chance of leading Japan out of its economic morass. Why? Nakasone sees Obuchi, 61, as a "harmonizer," a talented consensus-builder who can cut enough deals with party faction leaders to get critical policies through.

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