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The apparently successful testing of a nuclear weapon by North Korea has raised the issue of proliferation in the region and, in particular, the question of Japanese rearmament. In this context it is worth considering the recent election of Shinzo Abe to leader of Japan’s Liberal Democratic party (LDP), and therefore prime minister. Abe’s predecessor Junichiro Koizumi was a bold leader, who brought the Japanese economy out of the doldrums and smashed the LDP’s faction system. But he also legitimised a new Japanese nationalism. Abe is, if anything, even more committed to building an assertive and unapologetic Japan than Koizumi,…

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