Timeline for January 2014Politics Economy Science Technology Society
The ninetieth Hakone Ekiden relay, a 10-stage, 217.9 kilometer race from central Tokyo to Hakone in Kanagawa Prefecture, takes place. Tōyō University wins this year’s race with a round-trip time of 10 hours, 52 minutes, 51 seconds.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visits Japan, meeting with Prime Minister Abe Shinzō on January 7. In their third summit in less than a year, the leaders agree to start negotiations on a bilateral economic partnership agreement and to work to gain approval from their respective legislative bodies for a nuclear accord that will allow Japan to export nuclear power infrastructure to Turkey.
The French and Japanese foreign and defense ministers meet in Paris for the first “two-plus-two” security talks between the countries. They agree to set up a bilateral panel targeting joint development of military equipment.
Prime Minister Abe visits Oman, Côte d'Ivoire, Mozambique, and Ethiopia, accompanied by business leaders, aiming to secure natural resources and open new markets for Japanese companies.
Former Prime Minister Hosokawa Morihiro announces he will run in the Tokyo gubernatorial election, slated for February 9. The main plank of his campaign is a pledge to abandon nuclear power; he is backed by Koizumi Jun'ichirō, another former prime minister pressing for a nuclear-free energy future for Japan.
The government approves Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s new business restructuring plan. TEPCO’s proposal includes the restarting of reactors at its largest nuclear plant, Kashiwazaki Kariwa in Niigata Prefecture.
Japanese national team regular Honda Keisuke scores in his first home match for AC Milan in Italian soccer’s Serie A.
The trial of former Aum Shinrikyō cult member Hirata Makoto—charged with the 1995 kidnapping and confinement of Kariya Kiyoshi, who died after being abducted to prevent him from helping his sister to escape the cult—begins at Tokyo District Court. It is the first Aum-related case tried under the “lay judge” jury trial system implemented in 2009.
Oyamada Hiroko wins the 150th Akutagawa Prize for her novella Ana (Hole), while the 150th Naoki Prize is shared by Asai Makate for her Renka (Love Poem) and Himeno Kaoruko for her story “Shōwa no inu” (Showa Era Dogs).
Inamine Susumu is reelected as mayor of Nago, Okinawa Prefecture, running on a platform of opposition to the relocation of the US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to the Henoko area within Nago city limits. The result is a blow to the Abe government, which had gained the support in December 2013 of Okinawa Governor Nakaima Hirokazu for a landfill project in Henoko as a preliminary stage to moving the base, and a sign that the Okinawa “base problem” will remain unresolved.
Sakurai Katsunobu is reelected as mayor of Minamisōma, Fukushima Prefecture, based on an antinuclear campaign. Following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, Sakurai’s YouTube plea for help for his city brought him worldwide fame and Time magazine included him in its list of the world’s 100 most influential people in 2011.
Prime Minister Abe attends the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, becoming the first Japanese prime minister to make the keynote speech during the opening session. Answering questions from international journalists, he causes a stir by comparing Japan-China tensions to the animosity between the United Kingdom and Germany before World War I.
Prime Minister Abe stresses achieving economic recovery in his policy speech at the beginning of the 186th ordinary Diet session. He states that government, business, and labor will work together to raise wages and announces policies to prevent April’s consumption tax increase from slowing the economy. The speech also hints at a change in the government’s constitutional interpretation to allow Japan to exercise collective self-defense.
Toyota Motor Corp. announces that its 150 millionth domestically manufactured vehicle came off production lines in December 2013. The company’s history as an automaker goes back to 1933, when Toyoda Automatic Loom Works established its Automobile Department and began working on engines.
Prime Minister Abe visits India to take part in his fourth summit meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Abe announces a loan of ¥200 billion, largely to finance expansion of the Delhi Metro, and the two leaders agree to hold regular consultations between the countries’ national security councils.
Obokata Haruko of the Riken Center for Developmental Biology and her team publish papers in Nature on their discovery of a new method for easily creating stem cells by stressing blood cells in an acidic solution. Unlike induced pluripotent stem cells, which can only form embryonic tissue, the new STAP (stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency) cells can also form placental tissue.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications announces employment data for December 2013. Total unemployment fell 0.3 points from the previous month to 3.7%, the lowest level in six years.
The Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare announces that the ratio of active job openings to applicants for December 2013 increased 0.03 points from the previous month to 1.03, rising for the third consecutive month.