Will he or won't he? It's about the time of year when the Japanese media descends into a frenzy of speculation about whether Haruki Murakami will land the Nobel Prize in literature, becoming the first Japanese literary laureate since Kenzaburo Oe in 1994.

There is certainly nothing new about intense media interest in the prospect of one of Japan's literati winning the Nobel Prize, the winners of which are announced typically in October each year. In Japan, the battle to win the ultimate literary prize has been an epic struggle involving many of the nation's leading literary figures.

The Nobel Prize had a special meaning to Japan: it was seen as a symbol of rehabilitation in the aftermath of the nation's defeat in World War II.