Japan's economy, after a brief spate of growth, seems to have faltered again. The investment and journalistic communities, as well as official Japan, have tried to uncover proximate causes for this latest loss of momentum. But after more than 20 years of such disappointments, it should be clear to all now, as it has been to many for some time, that there are more fundamental issues at work here.

Primary among these are the country's aging demographics and Japan's failure to take reasonable counter measures to offset its negative economic effects. If it were to take such measures now, even after all this time, the economy could pick up and its markets surely would fly from their present depressed valuations. But since Tokyo shows few signs of taking the necessary steps, the primary opportunities currently lie in stock picking.

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