Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto is many things to many people, but nobody doubts his skill in the art of provocation.

“There are 100 million voters in Japan,” he said recently. “What percent of them are protesting in front of the Diet? The number is insignificant. I’m not denying their right to protest. But it’s wrong for the national will to be decided by such a small number of demonstrators. If they don’t agree with the government, they should exercise their right to vote in the next Lower House election.”

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