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Why Japan’s Economy May Surprise Us In 2022

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Fumio Kishida, Japan’s prime minister, speaks during a news conference at the prime minister’s … [+] official residence in Tokyo, Japan, on Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021.

Yoshikazu Tsuno/Gamma-Rapho/Bloomberg

Though off to a decent start, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida faces a 2022 of profound challenges.

Between Covid-19, sluggish economic growth, and geopolitical tensions with China, Kishida shouldn’t expect many calm moments in the year ahead. Oddly, though, Kishida’s biggest dilemma might be managing his relationship with Liberal Democratic Party kingpin Shinzo Abe.

Japan’s longest-serving leader stepped down in September 2020 amid scandals and outrage over a weak pandemic response. Even so, Abe remains the behind-the-scenes powerbroker calling many of the shots in Tokyo. Kishida owes his premiership to “Shadow Shogun” Abe, who favored him over more popular rivals.

Now, though,…

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