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That old saying about democracies being their own worst enemies is getting a good workout in Japan’s abductee dispute with North Korea. By any standards, North Korea’s willingness to release five Japanese abducted in the 1970s following Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s Sept. 17 breakthrough visit to Pyongyang was remarkable.

But the wave of emotional, anti-Pyongyang fever sweeping Japan’s media following the return of the abductees has pushed the relationship right back to where it started, or worse. The initial wave of enthusiasm for the prime minister’s initiative has quickly soured.

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