2010 JLPT Changes
In 2010, a fifth grade was added to the JLPT in order to ease the transition from 3kyuu to 2kyuu, which was said to be fairly steep. In my opinion, this is just a move to collect more test fees; if you want to work in Japan, the minimum proficiency required for most jobs is the 2kyuu level, and that is unlikely to change. Jobs requiring less than 2kyuu proficiency are unlikely to require any certification at all.
As a result, the tests changed format slightly and the 1kyuu became slightly more difficult.
The good news is that the 2kyuu and 1kyuu are now offered twice (rather than once) per year in Japan, in December and in July.