Flat Earth: Route to success

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The Independent Online
WHEN John Major meets Tsutomu Hata, the down-to-earth man who is expected to become Japan's prime minister tomorrow, they should have much to talk about. Mr Hata might even tell Mr Major how he managed to snag a job as a bus conductor.

Mr Major, who left school at 16, famously failed in his attempt to become a London Transport conductor operating from the Camberwell garage, either because he was too tall or too slow with the ticket machine. Mr Hata, a university graduate in economics, went to work for the Odakyu Bus Company because his father, an MP, opposed the tradition of dads handing down safe seats to sons. He eventually did take over his father's consituency.