Timeline for August 2016
The cabinet approves a ¥28 trillion stimulus package. The supplementary budget includes pay rises for care workers looking after children and the elderly, as well as funding to accelerate the completion of a planned high-speed maglev service between Tokyo and Osaka by up to eight years.
Prime Minister Abe Shinzō reshuffles his cabinet. Eight members retain their positions, while new faces include Inada Tomomi as minister of defense and Sekō Hiroshige as minister of economy, trade, and industry.
North Korea launches two mid-range Nodong ballistic missiles, one of which lands in Japan’s exclusive economic zone, 250 kilometers west of Akita Prefecture. As the Japanese government was not able to detect the firing was imminent, it did not give orders to shoot the missiles down. On August 8, the Self-Defense Forces receive orders to be ready to intercept missiles at any time.
At its 129th Session in Rio de Janeiro, the International Olympic Committee agrees to add five new sports to the 2020 Summer Olympics to be held in Tokyo. These are baseball/softball, karate, surfing, skateboarding, and sport climbing.
The opening ceremony for the 2016 Summer Olympics is held in Rio de Janeiro. The Japanese delegation features a total of 338 athletes competing in 30 sports; decathlete Ushiro Keisuke bears the flag during the team procession.
A ceremony is held in Hiroshima marking 71 years since the atomic bombing of the city. Mayor Matsui Kazumi makes reference to the May visit by US President Barack Obama in his speech, urging other world leaders to visit. Nagasaki holds its own memorial ceremony on August 9.
Emperor Akihito expresses his desire to abdicate, stating in a video message: “When I consider that my fitness level is gradually declining, I am worried that it may become difficult for me to carry out my duties as the symbol of the State with my whole being as I have done until now.”
Foreign Minister Kishida Fumio summons Chinese Ambassador Cheng Yonghua to protest against repeated incursions by Chinese vessels into the waters around the Senkaku Islands from August 5. More than 200 vessels, including Chinese Coast Guard ships, entered the contiguous zone outside Japanese territorial waters. On August 11, the Japan Coast Guard rescues six crew members of a Chinese fishing boat that sinks after colliding with a Greek cargo ship.
The Japanese government released a video showing Chinese vessels around the Senkaku Islands.
Foreign Minister Kishida holds a teleconference call with his South Korean counterpart Yun Byung-se. The two reach broad agreement on the operation of a foundation for supporting former comfort women, based on the agreement between the two countries at the end of 2015. On August 24, the Japanese cabinet decides to donate ¥1 billion to the foundation and both countries agree that each of the surviving women should receive 100 million won (¥10 million).
The Johnny & Associates talent agency announces that idol group SMAP, which it manages, will split up on December 31 this year.
An official ceremony is held in Tokyo on the anniversary of the end of World War II, commemorating those who died in the conflict. As at last year’s ceremony, Emperor Akihito expresses “deep remorse.”
The Summer Olympics comes to an end in Rio de Janeiro. Japan’s athletes take home a record 41 medals (12 gold, 8 silver, and 21 bronze). At the closing ceremony, the flag is passed on to Koike Yuriko, governor of the 2020 host city Tokyo.
First Lady Abe Akie posts on Facebook that she visited Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. At a press conference, Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide says that it was a private trip and that Prime Minister Abe has no plans to make an official visit.
In her Facebook post, First Lady Abe writes: “I offered flowers and prayers at the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor.”
The political party Initiatives from Osaka changes its name in a bid to broaden its appeal beyond the region. The Japanese name for the new party is Nippon Ishin no Kai, the same as that for the party launched by Hashimoto Tōru in 2012.
Foreign Minister Kishida holds three-way talks in Tokyo with Wang Yi and Yun Byung-se, the foreign ministers of China and South Korea, in the first such tripartite discussion since March 2015. The three ministers join in urging restraint from North Korea after it launches a missile from a submarine in the early hours of the morning.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications announces that the consumer price index fell by 0.5% in July, year on year. The index, which excludes volatile fresh food prices, dropped for the fifth consecutive month, experiencing its greatest decline in more than three years.Newly elected Kagoshima Governor Mitazono Satoshi calls on Kyūshū Electric to suspend operation of Sendai Nuclear Power Plant for renewed safety testing, due to increased concerns from citizens following earthquakes in Kumamoto Prefecture. It is currently the only nuclear plant in operation in Japan.