The massive shock that Japan received from the earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, was not enough to shake the country's politicians out of their comatose state. This was already evident before the recent national elections.

The shifting of responsibility, the confused policies, the lack of leadership, the bureaucratic wrangling and the misuse of government funds — all of these tawdry practices continued after the "triple disasters" without too much disruption.

There were some grounds for optimism that political change might be possible, given the considerable growth in civil society activism in response to the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. Anti-nuclear protests surged in the summer of 2012 following the restart of two reactors at the Oi nuclear power plant.