In a country which had become utterly disillusioned by its politicians’ failure to revive the economy, Japan’s new prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, has quickly won huge popularity with calls for radical reform. Japan certainly needs this. And Koizumi intends to start at the key point, with the country’s ailing banks. But the consequences of reform will certainly be painful. If slowing growth and rising unemployment erode his popularity, the old political inertia may stifle Koizumi’s efforts yet.