Japans New Prime Minister Lacks New Policies

TOKYO: Unless something unforeseen happens, Japans legislature will elect Keizo Obuchi prime minister July 30, replacing Ryutaro Hashimoto, who resigned July 12. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), a conservative group despite its name, selected Obuchi as its leader Friday. And since the LDP holds a majority in the parliaments lower house, his election is considered a foregone conclusion.

In contrast, substantial recovery anytime soon from Japans worst post-World War II recession is not nearly as certain. And Obuchi is a major reason. A die-hard political traditionalist and economic novice, Obuchi is seen in Japan as having little idea of how to attack the systemic problems plaguing Japan's economy or likely to appoint advisers or cabinet ministers whose strengths would help offset his weaknesses. In a possible sign of coming disappointments, immediately after Obuchis selection as LDP head, Japans currency, the yen, weakened against the U.S. dollar, and Tokyos stock market fell.

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