That's it? It's over?

"Scattered like leaves in the autumn wind," sighs Shukan Shincho magazine, speaking of the massive nationwide demonstrations that, through the summer, heralded (to some) a new political awakening of the Japanese masses (or something). The protesters' immediate target was new security legislation that robs Japan of its constitutional pacifism — but big as that issue was and is, a bigger one looms in the background: the evolution (revolution?) from passive democracy to active democracy.

"Down with war!" "Don't destroy Article 9!" — so the sea of placards exclaimed, Article 9 being the Constitution's ban on war as a means of settling international conflicts. That so much excitement could fizzle so soon testifies, perhaps (or perhaps not, as we shall see), to the shortness of memory in a world of ceaseless news, endless newness, the infinite capacity of the new to swamp the old — "old" meaning yesterday, if not this morning seen in the light of noon.