Timeline for July 2014Politics Economy Science Technology Society
The government decides to reinterpret the Constitution to allow for collective self-defense, meaning that Japan can take part in military action even when it is not directly under attack. Historically, Article 9 of the Constitution has been interpreted as only allowing the use of force for self-defense, but Prime Minister Abe Shinzō’s administration approves a new reading based on changes in the security environment.
The official climbing season for Mount Fuji opens, one year after it was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site. An optional entrance fee of ¥1,000 is charged for the first time, the money to be used to increase safety and conserve the local environment.
Nature retracts two STAP cell papers written by authors including Obokata Haruko of the Riken Center for Developmental Biology. At the time of their publication in January, they had seemed to upset conventional biological wisdom with a new method for easily creating stem cells. However, Riken later confirmed misconduct by Obokata after questions arose about matters including images used in the reports.
In US magazine Travel + Leisure’s annual poll, readers vote Kyoto as the world’s best city. Japan’s former capital climbs four places from fifth in the 2013 poll.
The Abe administration decides to ease sanctions against North Korea following intergovernmental talks on July 1 in which Pyongyang agreed to reopen investigations into the status of Japanese citizens kidnapped in the 1970s and 1980s. Japan will relax sanctions, imposed independently in addition to UN sanctions, which banned entry by North Korean citizens, required oversight of money transfers, and denied port calls by North Korean ships.
Prime Minister Abe visits New Zealand, Australia, and Papua New Guinea. In his meeting with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, the two leaders sign an economic partnership agreement and an agreement on transfer of defense equipment and technology. Abe also becomes the first Japanese prime minister to address the Australian parliament.
Typhoon Neoguri hits Okinawa, followed by Kagoshima and Wakayama Prefectures on July 10 and Chiba Prefecture on July 11, causing 3 deaths, 67 injuries, and major property damage. The Japan Meteorological Agency had issued its highest-level warning for Neoguri, describing it as “one of the largest typhoons ever in July.”
Japanese Defense Minister Onodera Itsunori talks with US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in Washington for the first time after the Japanese government’s reinterpretation of the Constitution to enable the exercise of collective self-defense. Hagel welcomes and supports the change.
Former Democratic Party of Japan representative Mikazuki Taizō is elected governor of Shiga Prefecture, narrowly defeating Koyari Takashi, who was backed by the Liberal Democratic Party and New Kōmeitō. As Mikazuki campaigned on a platform of strong opposition to restarting nuclear reactors, the result is seen as a criticism of the government’s nuclear policy.
Artist Igarashi Megumi is arrested under obscenity laws for distributing data to produce 3D prints of her genitals via the Internet as part of a creative project. Igarashi, who also uses the name Rokudenashiko or “Good-for-Nothing Girl,” denies that the material is obscene and is released on July 18.
Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is shot down over Ukraine by pro-Russia separatists, resulting in 298 fatalities. Japan joins with the United States and European Union countries in imposing sanctions on Russia and will also review plans for a visit to Japan by Russian President Vladimir Putin in autumn 2014.
Systems engineer Matsuzaki Masaomi is arrested on suspicion of stealing personal data on 7.6 million customers from education services provider Benesse Holdings, Inc., to sell to name list dealers. As of July 23, the number of customers affected is thought to have risen to over 23 million.
The Japan Football Association names former Mexico boss Javier Aguirre as Japan’s new head coach, replacing Alberto Zaccheroni, who led the team in its disappointing World Cup campaign. Aguirre managed Mexico in the 2002 and 2010 World Cups, leading them to the last 16 each time, and reached the quarterfinals as a player for Mexico in 1986. His first match in charge of Japan will be a friendly match against Uruguay in September.
The United Nations Human Rights Committee calls on Japan to improve its human rights record by officially recognizing and publicly apologizing for the treatment of “comfort women,” ensuring protection of citizens’ right to know in the application of its state secrets law, cracking down on hate speech, and considering abolition of the death penalty. The full report includes recommendation in around 20 areas, but is not legally binding.
Tokyo Governor Masuzoe Yōichi meets with South Korean President Park Geun-hye in Seoul. He conveys the message from Prime Minister Abe that Japan would like to improve bilateral ties, but Park replies that the first step to friendship is “a correct understanding of history.” It is the first meeting between Park and a Japanese politician since the three-way meeting between Park, Abe, and US President Barack Obama in March.
Prime Minister Abe begins a five-nation tour that will take him to Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, Colombia, and Chile before concluding on August 4 in Brazil. On July 28, he meets with Caribbean Community leaders for the first time in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, seeking diplomatic support for Japan’s bid to become a nonpermanent member of the UN Security Council in 2015.
The first doyō no ushi no hi, a day when eel is traditionally eaten in Japan, takes place since the International Union for Conservation of Nature added the Japanese Eel to its Red List of Threatened Species. On July 28, industry sources indicated that Chinese stocks of European eels, imported before a 2010 European ban on exports of elvers, will run out by early next year, threatening the supply of eels in 2015.