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The news this morning on NHK was about Emperor Akihito's impending heart bypass surgery in a few hours. Not surprisingly, it got full court press, including what the procedure will involve. It's just as if Queen Elizabeth or President Obama were going under the knife. The press was asking who's gonna be holding the reins of power in the interim. For about a couple of weeks, Crown Prince Naruhito will be taking care of his father's duties at the Imperial Palace and abroad.
But frankly speaking, probably most people under the age of 40 wouldn't care very much, although I did see a few teens appear at a special table set up for well-wishers to write their messages for the ailing sovereign. While the British Royal Family have stayed in the news due to the various travails and glamour amongst the members, the Imperial Family have pretty much kept to themselves, except when visiting the odd museum or reassuring the affected people in Fukushima and Miyagi Prefectures, amongst other places. But I think that's how they would like things to be.
The other big news is in the halls of Nagatacho, and this item will capture everyone's attention. PM Noda's Cabinet has come to some sort of agreement on how the consumption tax (Japan's version of the 13% here in Ontario) will be raised. It looks like the current 5% will be upped to 8% in April 2014 before it gets bumped up even further to 10% in the following year. But it's one thing to get Cabinet approval; now Noda has to fight it out with the rest of Parliament. And just like in the States, it's pretty polarized.