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How will he play his cards? (photo: Obama 2012)

The hoariest cliché in Japan is that, “in politics, an inch ahead is darkness.” It is not quite that bleak for Barack Obama, having won election to a second term by a pretty comfortable margin, but it is still at best murky. That is less because of the proximate issues on his plate—the “fiscal cliff,” a still sluggish economy, the Middle East in turmoil, generals caught with pants down—and more a reflection of the political and cultural climate in which he…

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