Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reviews members of the Self-Defense Force, July 2017.
Toru Hanai / Reuters

On a narrow street in Ogikubo, a western suburb of Tokyo, the shouts and laughter of passing schoolchildren in matching uniforms and yellow caps interrupted conversation inside the ground-floor office of Kenji Isezaki, a professor at the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. Although not far from the bright lights and crushing crowds of the megacity’s commercial center, Ogikubo is a rather subdued neighborhood. When I visited in May, its calm and relaxed residential atmosphere was a sharp contrast to the political rancor that was building in the capital’s government quarter, Nagatacho.

At the start of this year, Japanese

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