OSAKA — With its constant factional infighting and Cabinet shuffles, Japanese national politics is a disheartening affair for the concerned voter. Last year’s historic elections, however, demonstrated that voters can oust unpopular governments, and that party competition and accountability is emerging at last.

Unfortunately, it is hard to say the same for politics beyond Tokyo. In Japan’s prefectures and municipalities, the worst aspects of old-style politics seem set to continue.

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