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Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s ambitious target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions has been welcomed with great fanfare overseas, prompting domestic environmentalists to feel proud of their nation’s leader for probably the first time.

With less than three months to go until a U.N. conference kicks off in Copenhagen to design a new global framework for easing climate change, expectations are growing that Hatoyama’s target will act as a catalyst for progress in negotiations.

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