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In an editorial deploring Japan’s disgraceful world ranking with respect to gender equality — 120th among 156 countries, according to the Swiss-based think tank World Economic Forum — the Asahi Shimbun on April 1 wondered why Japan is unable to change. Could it be, it speculated, that voters are indifferent, resigned?

If that is the explanation, it in turn demands one. Present circumstances, domestic and global, concerning this particular issue and many others besides, press so urgently on every side, clamor so insistently for attention and commitment, that indifference or resignation seems hardly compatible with living and breathing. The world is in ferment. Japan alone, it sometimes seems, is inert.

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