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Japan’s new prime minister, Shinzo Abe, is trying to revive the country’s flagging economy, and we could all learn from the exercise. You may recall that, in the 1980s, Japan was widely anointed as the next economic superpower, displacing the United States. It’s been a long slide since.

In the 1990s, the “bubble economy” of high stock and real estate prices burst. The stock market is roughly a quarter of its high. Land prices have tumbled to 1975 levels. Since 2000, economic growth has averaged less than 1 percent annually. Government debt has ballooned to 214 percent of the economy (gross national product), about double the level of most advanced countries. Some superpower.

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