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In the coming weeks, Japanese politics will progress from its current obsession with personalities toward a renewed focus on policies. Sure, it was fun to watch the post-Abe succession race with all its speculation about possible character traits and leadership styles of the different candidates, but, as soon as the new prime minister is confirmed and presents his Cabinet, the national debate will shift from the “who” to the “what.”

Personally, I expect a strong thrust of new, innovative and even radical policy initiatives designed to create a stronger basis for future prosperity for Japan. Why? The good news is that the pressure for immediate, tangible and impactful policy action is tremendous. The new prime minister will have to call a general election by mid-October next year — that is, he’s got barely one year to prove his worth. Given that the post-Abe leadership race was only an internal affair among party insiders, there are poised to be more skeptics than fans among the general public. The people will not only ask, “What have you done for me lately?”, but, more importantly, they’ll ask, “What have you done to deserve being the prime minister of my country, Japan?”

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