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South Korea elects a new president next week. Mr. Lee Myung Bak, the conservative former mayor of Seoul, is the front-runner and barring a twist, will prevail in the ballot. His victory will move South Korean politics back to the center, but radical shifts in policy are not likely. It could open the door to a more productive relationship with Japan, however. We must be ready to seize that opportunity.

South Korea has been ruled by a left-leaning president for a decade. Mr. Kim Dae Jung, a human rights champion, was the first progressive to occupy the Blue House and in keeping with his bold and distinctive personality, embarked on several decisive shifts in policy. First, he adopted the “sunshine policy” — a form of engagement with North Korea. Second, he offered Japan genuine reconciliation and a forward-looking partnership.

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