June 2nd, 2010
04:38 AM GMT
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WANTED: CEO to lead a blue-chip country slightly past its prime.

Must be experienced consensus builder who can appeal to the nation’s urban elite while appeasing its politically powerful rural communities. Ability to harness nation’s spirit of innovation amid its revolving-door politics preferred.

Must be a self-starter who can get things done in one of the most politically conservative nations in Asia - in one year or less.

After eight months in office, Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama is out. No amount of multicolored fashion statements could save his approval rating.

It is an ignoble end for Hatoyama. His Democratic Party of Japan defeated the Liberal Democratic Party, which had a virtual stranglehold on Japanese politics since World War II.  But any hopes that the party’s victory would bring significant change to Japanese politics are dimming.

If there is any consolation for Hatoyama, he is in good company – Japan has had four new prime ministers in four years. Indeed, looking over the history of Japanese prime ministers in the past 50 years, few survive longer than a year or two.

However, it’s interesting to note that Japan's golden age of durable prime ministers seems to have been from 1957 to 1972 – where in a 15-year period of time the nation had three prime ministers. It also marks a time when the nation had its greatest era of economic expansion, with annual growth rates that rival that of China today and propelled the nation to the second largest economy in the world.

It makes one wonder: Is Japan’s political instability the result, or the cause, of Japan’s economic doldrums?

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