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For a brief moment in autumn 2017 — before some ill-considered Machiavellian comments scuppered her chances — it seemed as though the conservative governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike, might sweep to power as Japan’s first female prime minister.

There seemed nothing particularly momentous — especially when compared to Hillary Clinton’s run for the U.S. presidency — about a Japanese woman rising to ultimate executive power, yet it would have been symbolic of enormous social change.

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