"Historic," that much-overused word, seems almost acceptable as a description of the Upper House elections earlier this month that gave Japan — for the first time in its postwar history — a government strong enough to get serious about rewriting the Constitution.

Arguably other factors make it historic too. One is the participation of the youngest people ever to vote in a Japanese election: 18- and 19-year-olds. Another was discerned by American political scientist Gerald Curtis, who, writing mid-campaign for the Wall Street Journal, remarked, "Never in Japan's postwar history has the political opposition been as enfeebled as it is now."

In the same article, Curtis identified another sense in which the election was looking historic: "The campaign ... is shaping up to be one of the dullest in recent memory."