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Four years ago this month, demonstrations in Tunisia, following the death of a 26-year-old street vendor who set himself on fire, toppled an authoritarian government in the country, inspiring an “Arab Spring” of people’s protest movements and heightening hopes for democratization in various Arab countries. A political backlash has since dampened these hopes, however, and today much of the Arab world is beset by oppression and conflict.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is touring Egypt, Jordan, Israel and Palestine at this time, should seriously consider how Japan can help stabilize this part of the world. The government should make efforts to support the revival of the original ideal of the Arab Spring — leadership by moderate secular parties instead of military or religious forces.

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