Timeline for June 2014
Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) begins work on an “ice wall” to keep groundwater from flowing under Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station and becoming contaminated. The “wall” will consist of 1,550 underground pipes, containing coolant chilled to minus 30 degrees, at one-meter intervals surrounding four of the reactors. This kind of project has never been attempted before on such a large scale.
Prime Minister Abe Shinzō visits Europe, taking part in the G7 summit in Brussels, Belgium, on June 4–5. He states that the situation in Ukraine may “lead to problems in other regions,” and makes indirect reference to China’s territorial claims and naval activities in saying that “we cannot accept the use of intimidation and force.” Abe also meets with Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in Italy and Pope Francis in the Vatican City on June 6.
Telecommunications and Internet giant Softbank unveils Pepper, a personal robot it claims can read human emotions. The robot will go on general sale from February 2015, priced at ¥198,000. From June 6, it greets customers at Softbank’s Ginza and Omotesandō stores. Japan’s robot market is predicted to grow from ¥860 billion in 2012 to ¥2.8 trillion by 2020 and ¥9.7 trillion by 2035.
Momoi Sakari (111) becomes the world’s oldest man. Born on February 5, 1903, he currently lives in Saitama Prefecture.
Japanese companies take part for the first time in Eurosatory, the world’s largest defense and security trade show, held in Paris. In total 13 Japanese companies participate, including Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, NEC, and Hitachi. The Three Principles on Defense Equipment Transfers, approved by the Abe cabinet in April, lifted an earlier ban on arms exports, provided specific conditions are met.
The government finalizes an action plan to increase foreign visitors to 20 million by 2020, when the Summer Olympics and Paralympics will be held in Tokyo. The plan will waive visas for Indonesian tourists and relax visa requirements for tourists from the Philippines and Vietnam, among other measures to increase Asian visitors.
Crown Prince Naruhito makes an official visit to Switzerland to celebrate the 150th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties between Japan and the European nation.
The Diet passes a bill revising child pornography laws to ban possession of explicit photographs or videos depicting children. An earlier law had criminalized production and distribution of such material, but Japan is the last G7 country to make possession illegal. Offenders will be subject to up to one year in prison or a fine of up to ¥1 million. However, the new law does not apply to images in anime or manga.
The UNESCO World Heritage Committee adds the Tomioka Silk Mill and Related Industrial Heritage in Gunma Prefecture to its list of sites, based on the mill’s role in the development of the world silk industry. The mill, built by the Meiji government in 1872, is the first recognized site to represent Japan’s modern industrial heritage.
Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly member Suzuki Akihiro apologizes to fellow member Shiomura Ayaka for sexist heckling. While Shiomura, a representative for Your Party, was speaking on June 18 about measures to support mothers, taunts came from seats assigned to Liberal Democratic Party members. Suzuki admitted to calling out, “Why don’t you get married first?” but denied shouting, “What’s the matter, are you barren?”
Prime Minister Abe announces plans to reduce corporate tax to below 30% as part of the growth strategy that represents his “third arrow” of economic reform. He also talks about long-term measures for stabilizing the Japanese population so that it remains at about 100 million in 50 years’ time.
Japan’s men’s soccer team loses 4–1 against Colombia in its final Group C game in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and is eliminated from the tournament. It previously lost 2–1 to Côte d’Ivoire on June 14 and drew 0–0 with Greece on June 19. Japan finishes bottom of its group with one point; coach Alberto Zaccheroni resigns.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications announces Japan’s population as of January 1 has decreased for the fifth successive year. The population now stands at 128.4 million, including foreign residents.
North Korea fires two short-range missiles into the Sea of Japan. Despite official protests by Japan, Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga announces that talks between Japan and North Korea will go ahead on July 1 as scheduled.
A man sets himself on fire on a pedestrian bridge in Shinjuku, Tokyo, after giving a speech denouncing Prime Minister Abe’s efforts to reinterpret Japan’s pacifist constitution to enable Japanese participation in collective self-defense.
More than 10,000 protesters opposed to constitutional reinterpretation demonstrate outside the Kantei, the Prime Minister’s official residence. The cabinet is set to make a decision on the matter on July 1.