On October 1, the Japan Patent Office instituted its "Super Accelerated Examination System" -- sort of a bullet train for patent prosecution. (Note that I have used italics to lend a sense of speed to the term "bullet train." They don't teach you that in law school.) Seventeen days later, the JPO granted its first patent under the program (for an application originally filed in 2007). The program is scheduled to operate on a test basis for six months.
Applicants must have filed both in Japan and abroad, and must be able to demonstrate concrete plans to use the invention commercially. There are several other requirements and exclusions. The goal of the process is to further reduce (from the existing Accelerated Examination System) the time that it takes an applicant to receive a first and (if necessary) second examination result. More here.
The USPTO has an Accelerated Examination system; about 40% of the petitions requesting accelerated treatment are granted, but at least early on there were reports that few of the granted petitions resulted in issued patents. There are a number of strings attached to taking advantage of this process. I wrote about this back in 2006. The procedure has not really taken off in the US, so it will be interesting to see how the enhanced Japanese version plays out.