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BERKELEY, California — For the people of Miyagi Prefecture’s 4th district, the generational shift in Japanese politics has just arrived. On Oct. 28, Shintaro Ito was elected to represent Miyagi’s 4th district in a special by-election to replace his father, Soichiro, who passed away on Sept. 4.

We all know there is much to lament about old-style Japanese politics: backroom bargains, cozy relationships, wasteful spending, and systemic corruption. But there is a more honorable side to the older generation’s brand of politics, embodied in the senior Ito’s four decades of service in the Diet.

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