Japan Timeline

Timeline for February 2014

Politics Economy Science Technology Society

Japanese athletes experience success and disappointment in Sochi; a new governor defeats antinuclear candidates to win election in Tokyo; and record snowfall brings chaos to parts of Japan. Look back on the top Japanese news stories of February 2014.


Seventeen-year-old Niyama Haruo wins the top prize at the international Prix de Lausanne ballet competition, famous as the gateway to a professional career for young dancers. Maeda Sae is second and Katō Mikio sixth as Japanese entrants take half of the six prizes.


Osaka Mayor Hashimoto Tōru announces his resignation to seek a fresh mandate from voters for his plan to merge and reform the Osaka prefectural and municipal governments.


The twenty-second Winter Olympics are held in Sochi, Russia. A total of 2,900 athletes from a record 88 countries compete in 98 events across 7 sports. Japan sends a 248-member delegation, its largest ever to an overseas Winter Olympics, including 113 athletes. Prime Minister Abe Shinzō attends the opening ceremony.


Prime Minister Abe and President Vladimir Putin of Russia hold their fifth summit meeting in Sochi. They confirm further negotiations aimed at resolving a dispute over islands north of Hokkaidō and concluding a Japan-Russia peace treaty to formally end World War II hostilities. President Putin agrees to visit Japan this autumn.


Masuzoe Yōichi, former minister of health, labor, and welfare, is elected governor of Tokyo in the vote following the resignation of Inose Naoki. He defeats former head of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations Utsunomiya Kenji, former Prime Minister Hosokawa Morihiro, and former chief of staff of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force Tamogami Toshio. Masuzoe’s 2.1 million votes put him well ahead of antinuclear candidates Utsunomiya and Hosokawa, who both fall just short of a million votes. Turnout is just 46.14%, the third lowest ever for a Tokyo gubernatorial election, due in part to heavy snow that fell the day before.


US Ambassador Caroline Kennedy makes her first visit to Okinawa Prefecture. She meets with Governor Nakaima Hirokazu and Nago Mayor Inamine Susumu, who opposes the relocation of the US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to his city. She also visits the Peace Memorial Park in Itoman and Camp Schwab in Nago, the proposed site for relocation of the air base.


Record snowfall hits greater Tokyo and neighboring prefectures, causing major disruption to rail and other transport services. Kōfu in Yamanashi Prefecture is smothered under 114 centimeters of snow, the deepest measured since records began in 1894, while 27 centimeters of snow lands on central Tokyo in the city’s heaviest snowfall in 45 years. The severe weather causes 24 deaths, more than 900 injuries, and around ¥65 billion of damage to crops and agricultural infrastructure.

In Sochi, Hanyū Yuzuru wins Japan’s first ever Olympic gold medal in the men’s figure skating event. Takahashi Daisuke, who won a bronze medal in 2010 in Vancouver, finishes in sixth place.


Kuroki Haru wins the Silver Bear for best actress at the sixty-fourth Berlin International Film Festival for her performance in wartime drama Chiisai ouchi (The Little House), directed by veteran Yamada Yōji. Kuroki is the fourth Japanese actress to receive the award, following most recently Terajima Shinobu’s 2010 win.


The United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in North Korea releases its final report detailing human rights abuses in the country, including executions, starvation, and abduction of Japanese citizens. In the report the UN experts conclude for the first time that the North Korean state has committed systematic human rights violations that amount to “crimes against humanity.” The report will be officially presented to the UN Human Rights Council in March.


Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz makes an official visit to Japan. He meets Prime Minister Abe and they pledge a stronger partnership, targeting completion of a civil nuclear cooperation accord that would enable the export of reactors from Japan to Saudi Arabia. On February 19, Crown Prince Salman meets with Emperor Akihito.


The G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting is held in Sydney, Australia. Participants agree to target an increase of at least two percentage points in global economic growth rate over the next five years. This is the first time the G20 has set a specific goal.


The Trans-Pacific Partnership Ministerial Meeting takes place in Singapore. Japan and the United States fail to reach agreement on tariffs and other issues, delaying a conclusion to negotiations.


The Winter Olympics come to an end in Sochi. Japan wins one gold, four silver, and three bronze medals for a total of eight, its second highest ever tally in the winter games after the 10 medals it won in Nagano in 1998. Hirano Ayumu (15) and Kasai Noriaki (41) break records as the youngest and oldest Japanese Winter Olympics medalists. Snowboarder Hirano takes silver in the men’s halfpipe, while ski jumper Kasai wins silver in the men’s large hill individual event. Figure skater Asada Mao and ski jumper Takanashi Sara are medal hopes, but finish sixth and fourth, respectively.

election TPP Hashimoto Toru Masuzoe Yōichi Olympics Caroline Kennedy Sochi Asada Mao Lausanne Hanyū Yuzuru