Japan’s Fredo Corleone moment is not very cinematic

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William Pesek is an award-winning Tokyo-based journalist and author of “Japanization: What the World Can Learn from Japan’s Lost Decades.”

Here is the real question to ask about a scandal involving Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s son lavishing $700 per-head dinners on Tokyo bureaucrats: where, oh where, did the last 23 years go?

The last time, arguably, such an amateurish influence campaign made these kinds of headlines was in 1998. That was back when Japan Inc’s bad-loan crisis and deflation were really getting going. The bribery controversy saw Ministry of Finance staffers in handcuffs. And it came right in the middle of two events with which Tokyo is still grappling.

The first is the 1997 collapse of 100-year-old Yamaichi Securities, one of Japan’s fabled big-four brokerages. The second: the Bank of Japan’s fateful 1999 decision to cut interest rates to zero, setting the stage for…

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