Japan Timeline

Timeline for March 2014

Politics Economy Science Technology Society

Japan’s Paralympic athletes bring home six medals from Sochi; Osaka takes the country’s highest skyscraper crown from Tokyo; Japan makes moves on the diplomatic front; and an ICJ ruling halts the country’s whaling program. Here’s an overview of what happened in March 2014.


After Mt. Gox, the world’s largest exchange for the virtual currency Bitcoin, files for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo District Court on February 28, Finance Minister Asō Tarō states: “We don’t know if it was a crime or just a bankruptcy and it’s not clear which government office should have jurisdiction.”


Japan’s tallest skyscraper, Abeno Harukas, opens in Abeno Ward, Osaka. The 300-meter structure includes 16 department store floors and an art museum as well as observation decks on the top three floors.


The eleventh Winter Paralympics are held in Sochi, Russia. Japan is represented by 20 athletes who win a total of six medals (three gold, one silver, and two bronze), including two gold medals for Kanō Akira in the men’s sitting alpine skiing.


Wakata Kōichi becomes the first Japanese commander of the International Space Station. He will lead a crew of five astronauts from the United States and Russia until mid-May.


Professor Wakayama Teruhiko of the University of Yamanashi, the coauthor of STAP cell papers published in Nature in January, calls for their withdrawal. Images used in the papers, for which Obokata Haruko of the Riken Center for Developmental Biology was the lead author, are similar to those used in her doctoral thesis. The results have not yet been successfully replicated, further calling into question their validity.


The parents of Yokota Megumi, who was abducted by North Korea in 1977 at the age of 13, spend time with her daughter, Kim Eun-gyeong, in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. They also meet Kim’s husband and her 10-month-old child, their great-grandchild.


The third anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake. As of March 10, 15,884 people have been confirmed killed and 2,633 people reported missing according to the National Police Agency. This does not include 2,973 deaths indirectly related to the disaster in Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima Prefectures as a result of the physical and psychological stress of evacuee life.


National Security Advisor Yachi Shōtarō meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and urges all parties involved in the Crimea dispute to act responsibly and with restraint. He conveys the Japanese government’s call for respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.


The Akebono sleeper train leaves JR Ueno Station on its final run from Tokyo to Aomori in the north of Japan after having been in operation for over 40 years.


Prime Minister Abe Shinzō meets Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang in Tokyo. The two leaders announce an extensive strategic partnership, including yen loans to finance Vietnamese infrastructure and possible future supply of patrol ships by Japan.


The 17-year-old Takanashi Sara wins the final round of the 2013–14 Ski Jumping World Cup in Planica, Slovenia, to take the overall women’s title for the season.


Anime Japan 2014 is held at Tokyo Big Sight, attracting a total of 111,252 visitors over two days.


Kakuryū is promoted from ōzeki to yokozuna, the highest rank in sumō wrestling. This follows his 14-1 record in the spring tournament, in which he defeated yokozuna Hakuhō and ōzeki Kotoshōgiku. The three current yokozuna, Kakuryū, Hakuhō, and Harumafuji, are all from Mongolia as foreign wrestlers continue to find success.

Prime Minister Abe, US President Barack Obama, and South Korean President Park Geun-hye hold a three-way meeting after the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague, the Netherlands. It is the first Japan–South Korea summit meeting for both Abe and Park since coming to office. The 45-minute talks largely focus on the North Korean nuclear issue; there is no mention of historical issues.

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko visit the Ise Shrine for the first time since its rebuilding was completed in October 2013.


Former professional boxer Hakamada Iwao is released after 48 years on death row. He was sentenced to death for the murder of a family of four in Shizuoka Prefecture in 1966. The presiding judge, Murayama Hiroaki of the Shizuoka District Court, states it would be unjust to detain Hakamada any further as he grants a retrial. According to the Ministry of Justice, this is the first time a prisoner on death row has been released before being found innocent.


Asada Mao wins gold in the women’s competition at the World Figure Skating Championships in Saitama, Japan. In the men’s competition, Hanyū Yuzuru also takes gold, narrowly ahead of Machida Tatsuki in second.


The TV series Waratte Iitomo! (It’s OK to Laugh!), presented by comedian Tamori, comes to an end after 32 years. The show holds the Guinness World Record for the most episodes of a live variety TV show hosted by the same presenter. Prime Minister Abe appeared on the show on March 21.

In The Hague, the International Court of Justice rules that Japan’s whaling program is not in accordance with the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling. Casting doubt on the scientific value of Japan’s program, the court orders an immediate halt to Japanese whaling in the Antarctic.

In Yokohama, an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change working group issues a 32-volume report as part of the panel’s first Assessment Report in seven years, providing extensive evidence of the impact of climate change to date and warning of serious future risks.

Abe Shinzō Hanyu whaling Ise Shrine STAP Mt. Gox Abeno Harukas three-way meeting Asada ICJ