Japan Timeline

Timeline for February 2015

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Prime Minister Abe Shinzō responds to the execution of Gotō Kenji by Daesh, Javier Aguirre is fired as national coach of the men’s soccer team, and Nishikawa Kōya resigns as agriculture minister. An overview of the top Japanese news stories of February 2015.


Prime Minister Abe Shinzō responds to the release of video footage that appears to show the execution of freelance journalist Gotō Kenji by Daesh, the group calling itself Islamic State (January 31, local time), by saying, “I will never forgive these terrorists. I will work with the international community to hold them responsible for their deplorable acts.” The Japanese government plans to continue providing humanitarian and nonmilitary support to countries fighting Daesh.


The Japan Football Association fires men’s national soccer team coach Javier Aguirre after a Spanish court accepts a case in which he is named as a defendant in relation to allegations of match-fixing in La Liga, Spain’s top soccer division. Aguirre, who became national team coach in August 2014, denies any involvement.


The Supreme Court upholds high court rulings overturning two death sentences for robbery and murder handed down in trials involving lay judges. It is the first time the death penalty has been negated in a lay judge trial.


The Sapporo Snow Festival takes place in three venues in central Sapporo, Hokkaidō. Star Wars, Nara’s Kasuga Taisha shrine, tennis star Nishikori Kei, and Yōkai Watch are among the themes for the 207 snow and ice sculptures on display. More than 2 million visitors attend the festival.

Snow Star Wars sculpture at the Sapporo Snow Festival in Sapporo, Hokkaidō, on February 5, 2014. (© Jiji) Snow Star Wars sculpture at the Sapporo Snow Festival in Sapporo, Hokkaidō, on February 5, 2015. (© Jiji)


Kikkoman soy sauce bottle designed by Ekuan Kenji. (© Jiji) Kikkoman soy sauce bottle designed by Ekuan Kenji. (© Jiji)

Industrial designer Ekuan Kenji, who created Kikkoman’s iconic soy sauce bottle and the Komachi bullet train between Tokyo and Akita, dies at the age of 85.


Prime Minister Abe meets Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha in Tokyo. The two agree on Japanese funding for infrastructure improvement in Thailand, including high-speed rail development.

The Ministry of Finance announces that Japan’s current account surplus has fallen 18.8% to ¥2.6 trillion, its lowest level since the nation began using its present method to calculate the figure in 1985.

The farm lobby JA-Zenchū approves a government reform plan that removes its powers to audit and guide local cooperatives in the first fundamental reform of agricultural cooperatives for around 60 years. JA-Zenchū will lose its current privileged legal status and become a general incorporated body by March 2019.


The government approves the Development Cooperation Charter, revising its ODA policy to make possible funding of foreign military forces engaged in non-combat activities.


The city government of Shibuya, Tokyo, presents plans to introduce a certificate recognizing same-sex relationships as equivalent to marriage. The draft statute, unprecedented in Japan, will be proposed in the municipal assembly in March and, if approved, will come into effect on April 1. The proposed document will not be legally binding. On February 15, Mayor Hosaka Nobuto of Setagaya, Tokyo, announces he is considering a similar measure.


Japan’s economy emerges from recession as GDP grows an annualized 2.2% in October–December 2014; quarterly growth is 0.6%. This follows two consecutive quarters of contraction after April’s consumption tax increase. While exports show improvement, weak consumption means that the figures announced by the Cabinet Office are lower than forecast.


The Supreme Court refers two cases challenging marriage-related articles in the Civil Code as unconstitutional to its 15-member Grand Bench. One of the articles bans married couples from having different surnames; the other prevents women (but not men) from remarrying until six months after divorce.


Shimane Prefecture holds its tenth annual Takeshima Day ceremony in Matsue. It is attended by Cabinet Office Parliamentary Secretary Matsumoto Yōhei, representing the national government, who states, “Takeshima is an inherent part of Japanese territory under international law. We are making every effort to resolve this matter peacefully.” On February 23, South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs summons Japanese official Kanasugi Kenji to protest Matsumoto’s attendance at the ceremony.

Runners start to move at the Tokyo Marathon on February 22, 2015. (© Jiji) Runners start to move at the Tokyo Marathon on February 22, 2015. (© Jiji)

Ethiopians Endeshaw Negesse and Berhane Dibaba are the fastest male and female finishers at the ninth Tokyo Marathon, with times of 2:06:00 and 2:23:15, respectively. Japan’s Imai Masato leads the Japanese pack to come in seventh overall with a time of 2:07:39.


Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Nishikawa Kōya resigns over a political funding scandal. Prime Minister Abe replaces him with Hayashi Yoshimasa, who returns to the post just five months after the September 2014 reshuffle. It is the third ministerial resignation since the reshuffle, following those of Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry Obuchi Yūko and Minister of Justice Matsushima Midori in October.


An advisory panel meets for the first time to discuss Prime Minister Abe’s expected August statement marking the seventieth anniversary of the end of World War II. The 16-member panel is headed by Japan Post Holdings President Nishimuro Taizō. It will submit a report to Prime Minister Abe, who will decide the final wording for the statement.

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