Timeline for April 2015Politics Economy Science Technology Society
Tsuruga Kehi from Fukui Prefecture defeats Hokkaidō’s Tōkai University Daiyon 3–1 to win the 2015 spring Kōshien high school baseball tournament. Tsuruga Kehi’s first tournament win is also the first, spring or summer, for a team from the Hokuriku region.
Japan’s first ordinance recognizing relationships between same-sex couples as equivalent to marriage comes into effect in the city of Shibuya, Tokyo. The municipal assembly plans to start issuing certificates later this year.
The cabinet approves amendments to the Labor Standards Act that would offer the option of exemption from working-hour limits to researchers, foreign exchange dealers, fund managers, and other specialist workers earning at least ¥10.75 million a year. If passed, the law will go into effect in April 2016.
Narita Airport opens a third terminal for budget airlines that has floor space of 66,000 square meters and is capable of handling 7.5 million passengers annually. In the first year, 5.5 million people are expected to use Terminal 3.
Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko travel to the island of Peleliu in Palau to commemorate those who died in World War II, 70 years after the end of the conflict. They visit monuments dedicated to the 10,000 Japanese and 1,600 American soldiers killed in battle on the island in 1944.
The Nikkei average clears the 20,000 mark for the first time since April 17, 2000, due to share price rises in Western markets and expectations of domestic recovery as the yen depreciates.
Candidates backed by the Liberal Democratic Party are all reelected in 10 gubernatorial contests across Japan. Voters also select 5 mayors, 17 city assemblies, and 41 prefectural assembly members in the first round of local elections. Average voter turnout for gubernatorial elections is an all-time low 47.14%.
Fukui District Court upholds an injunction filed by residents, ruling against the restart of two nuclear reactors at Fukui Prefecture’s Takahama Plant, owned by Kansai Electric Power Co., due to safety concerns. On April 17, Kansai Electric formally seeks revocation of the ruling.
A total of 27 people are injured as an Asiana Airlines plane carrying 81 passengers and crew skids off the runway at Hiroshima Airport. The South Korean aircraft was traveling from Incheon, near Seoul. Aviation authorities in both countries are investigating the incident.
The Chinese-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank officially approves 57 founding members. They do not include Japan or the United States, who cite concern over fair governance among reasons for not joining at this stage.
Author Murakami Haruki and organizing consultant Kondō Marie are named in Time magazine’s 2015 list of the world’s 100 most influential people. Kondō’s book Jinsei ga tokimeku katazuke no mahō (trans. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing) has become an international bestseller.
Prime Minister Abe Shinzō meets Okinawa Governor Onaga Takeshi for the first time in Tokyo. The two discuss the proposed relocation of US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to Henoko in Nago, but the meeting ends in deadlock as Onaga continues to oppose the move.
Japan-US Trans-Pacific Partnership talks take place in Tokyo, with Japanese State Minister for Economic Policy Amari Akira and US Trade Representative Michael Froman in attendance. The two sides fail to reach agreement on increasing imports of US rice and removing tariffs on Japanese auto parts, further delaying a bilateral accord.
A Japanese maglev train sets a world speed record of 603 kilometers per hour during a test run near Mount Fuji. It maintains a speed of over 600 kph for 10.8 seconds, during which it travels around 1.8 kilometers. The train is to be deployed on the planned Chūō Shinkansen route, which is currently under construction. When the route is complete in 2027, it will cut travel time between Tokyo and Nagoya to 40 minutes.
Prime Minister Abe and President Xi Jinping of China meet on the sidelines of the Asia-Africa Conference in Jakarta, Indonesia. Xi states that “squarely facing history will build mutual understanding.” Abe responds by saying he will uphold statements made by previous administrations, including the Murayama Statement and the Koizumi Statement.
A drone is discovered on the roof of the prime minister’s residence (the Kantei) in central Tokyo. On April 24, Yamamoto Yasuo gives himself up at a police station in Obama, Fukui Prefecture. Yamamoto says that he landed the drone, which carried soil with traces of radiation, on the roof of the Kantei earlier in the month as a protest against nuclear power.
For the first time since 1997, the Japanese and US governments agree to new revision of defense cooperation guidelines during a meeting of the Security Consultative Committee held in New York. The agreement removes geographical restrictions on the Japanese Self-Defense Forces’ ability to provide logistical support for the US military. It also opens the way for the SDF to use military force under the principle of collective self-defense to protect Japan from existing threats even if the country is not under direct attack.
Prime Minister Abe Shinzō begins an eight-day tour of the United States, meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House. The two leaders stress the importance of newly revised defense guidelines and release a joint statement affirming the need to strengthen the US-Japan alliance through greater military and economic cooperation.
The Ministry of Economic Trade and Industry presents a plan to an advisory panel that would see nuclear power become 20%–22% and renewable sources 22%–24% of Japan’s energy mix by 2030. The proposal reflects governmental plans to restart idled reactors, highlighting Prime Minister Abe’s intentions to keep nuclear energy as a base power source for the country.
Abe Shinzō becomes the first Japanese prime minister to address a joint session of the US Congress. Marking the seventieth anniversary of the end of World War II, Abe expresses deep regret for the war, saying, “Our actions brought suffering to the peoples in Asian countries. We must not avert our eyes from that.” He goes on to state that reform bolstering the US-Japan military alliance will be achieved by summer.