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The moment Prime Minister Shinzo Abe resigned, pundits were out offering explanations. Weak diplomacy, scandals, verbal gaffes by Cabinet members, you name it. Yet Abe’s undoing was the economy, period.

Abe’s predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi, set the stage for important changes to what arguably had become the most complacent of the world’s major economies. Fancying himself as Japan’s answer to Margaret Thatcher, Koizumi sought to sell key government holdings such as Japan Post, to reduce wasteful spending and to get politicians’ hands off the economy.

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