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LONDON — On a recent visit to France, I was frequently asked about the results of the Japanese election. Did the results mean that Japan was really changing? Would the new Japanese government increase Japan’s influence in the world?

I had to hedge my replies with “ifs” and “buts.” The defeat of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) had been inevitable. It had been in power for too long and had lost touch with Japanese voters. The three Japanese prime ministers since Junichiro Koizumi exited the stage in 2006 had looked like party hacks lacking charisma and leadership qualities. Party factions seemed to have reasserted their influence, and interest groups to have regained their ability to lobby effectively. It was clearly time for a change.

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