As Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Cabinet rush to diminish the Bank of Japan's bothersome independence, join the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations (sort of . . .), start pouring lovely, popular concrete before the summer House of Councilors elections and (sotto voce) maybe even amend the Constitution, something amazing is happening in courts around the country: They are making decisions with astonishing speed and potentially profound implications. The two things may not be unrelated.

After the December House of Representatives elections, which swept Abe into power with a massive majority, teams of lawyers filed suit in high courts around the country challenging their validity. By February, newspapers were able to report that every single one of these courts was planning to issue its decision in March — lightning speed for a judiciary anywhere, let alone Japan.

This litigation is not due to anything personal against Abe; teams of lawyers have been filing such suits after every recent election as part of an orchestrated campaign to challenge the malapportionment of Diet seats, a decades-old constitutional and political problem. Malapportionment is what happens when, due to population movements or other reasons, seats from some (usually rural) districts represent far fewer people than those in other (usually urban) ones. This imbalance results in some voters having far more influence in the Diet, skewing political priorities. Japan's famously protective agricultural policies, for example, are attributed in part to the disproportionate weight of rural farming votes.