When the new transport minister began talking about solutions to the long-running and lingering problem of debts left over by the former Japanese National Railways, one word kept coming up: “taxes.”

Takao Fujii’s first Cabinet post comes as 28.1 trillion yen in debt towers above most of the country’s urgent problems. “We are at a critical moment,” Fujii said. “We must come up with a fundamental solution to the problem. We must not end up with a superficial and partial remedy.”

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