Shinzo Abe, the new prime minister, is one of the country’s most popular politicians. His problem is that the one before him, Junichiro Koizumi, is even more popular.

With vague policy goals and a sober demeanor, Abe heralds a dramatic break from the flamboyant Koizumi, a leader renowned as much for his silver mop top and Elvis-worship as for the reforms that signaled the arrival of a new generation in power.

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