One issue that is getting attention here in Japan but is, I suspect, pretty much off the international radar, is the LDP’s push to amend Article 96 of the Constitution. Unable to get a broad consensus on changing anything else, they have focused on Article 96 (which lays out the procedures for amending the Constitution) and have argued that the requirements are unreasonably demanding. Yet many other countries have just-as-demanding requirements and have amended their Constitutions.
If there is no reason to amend the Constitution except to make it easier to amend the Constitution, why bother? Change for the sake of change is no more responsible than opposition for the sake of opposition. But of course, for the LDP, it is not just for the sake of change. It is to open the gateways to a retrogressive rewriting. Article 96 is just the crack-laced candy. “Go ahead and try it. Won’t hurt you.” Their gateway drug.
The BOJ recently released its biannual inflation outlook (経済・物価情勢の展望: ２０１３年４月). The graph at right shows inflation (dark) and hourly wages; while the latter are up slightly, such metrics are volatile and affect inflation with a lag. But wages are central: they are the largest cost for most businesses, and until they rise, well, there won’t (can’t!) be inflation.