Today's Asahi Shimbun shasetsu on the Koizumi Phenomenon is so succint, clear-eyed and fair the editorial page editor must have been dosed with hallucinogens.
I recommend that everyone click through to read it:
Koizumi's unique style日本語版はここ。
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi must be in high spirits, filled with the pride of achievement. After more than five years in office, he ranks as the third longest-serving prime minister in postwar Japan. His high approval rating in opinion polls is likely to continue until he steps down as president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in September.
Five years ago, the nation appeared to be on the brink of bankruptcy, bogged down in a morass of mounting bad loans. Now the economy has regained sufficient strength to allow the Bank of Japan to end its longstanding zero-interest-rate policy, introduced to stem the nation's deflationary downturn. We are not surprised that Koizumi's high spirits led him to croon Elvis Presley songs during his recent swing through the United States...
Aha! Now I know why the article is complimentary. Parts II and III, on his structural reforms and his foreign policies, are forthcoming.
[For those too young to recognize the title reference, or who were living on a planet other than on Earth in 1979, here is a You Tube tutorial from 1994]