Few Japanese people may have noticed, but their country has just been relegated from the "Premier League" of democratic nations. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit's recently published annual Democracy Index, Japan no longer belongs among the "full democracies." Its score has fallen from 8.08 in 2014 to 7.96 in 2015, which reduces its ranking from 20th place in 2014 to 23rd and pushes it into the inglorious category of "flawed democracies."
Still, there is some consolation for Japan. It ranks narrowly ahead of Belgium and France, which are also apparently "flawed democracies." All three, however, can look down smugly on Singapore, which languishes in 74th position, barely above Albania. Not a single Asian country is a member of the "full democracy" club and both the U.S. and U.K. are close to demotion. Instead, the top 10 are dominated by northern European social democracies.