Rebecca MacKinnon is moderating a Japan panel this year.
Last year, when I was on a Japan panel and MC'ing the Japan dinner, Japan was still looking dismal and my role as risk taking agitator was a good card for the Japanese to play to try to show that they were trying to change.
This year, the economy is "recovering" and the panel is populated by more of the old-school participants who are cautiously trying to explain the "turn-around" and how the "recovery" will continue.
I think the consensus is that the engine of the recovery is the restructuring of private companies and that the government policy and reforms are the oil.
I personally think that we need more fundamental changes in Japan, but I think that the incentive to make big changes will decrease as long as this fragile recovery continues. I think it's probably more constructive for me to spend my efforts on global issues and blogging until Japan needs my subversive energy again. ;-)
Comment from the audience: It's not the number of women in the women in the Japanese workforce, but rather their role in the workforce.
UPDATE: Ack! Rebecca glared at me, I shook my head, but she called on me for a comment anyway. I asked whether the more painful reforms are going to get less attention now that people are focused on the recover and making people feel comfortable.
One of the panel members disagreed with me and asserted that with political will, many of the fundamental changes will continue to happen and might even be easier.
Hmm... maybe in some areas, but I doubt it. Maybe I should have defined "fundamental changes."