The JPO issued “Handbook for Trial and Appeal System in Japan” which introduces a trial and appeal system in Japan.

Source JPO

Following the enactment of the Act on Partial Amendments to the Unfair Competition Prevention Act, etc., grace periods for inventions, utility models and designs will be extended from six months to one year.
The new grace periods will apply to applications filed after June 9, 2018.
Please note that the new grace periods will not apply to inventions, utility models and designs that were disclosed to the public before December 9, 2017.

Source JPO (Japanese)

JPO announced that Examination Guideline for Design was partilly revised and JPO will examine the application according to the revised Guideline from May 1, 2018.

This revision seems minor change such that a few examples are added to clarify the criteria (KSI).

Source JPO (Japanese)

Applications that have been filed with both the JPO and at least one of foreign IP Offices or that have been filed under the PCT are eligible for accelerated examination.

Source JPO