Japan Timeline

Timeline for November 2016

Prime Minister Abe Shinzō meets with US President-elect Donald Trump in New York, Mifune Toshirō receives a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and Japanese peacekeepers get an expanded mandate in South Sudan. These are the main news stories of November 2016.


Funeral rites are conducted for Takahito, Prince Mikasa, who died at the age of 100 on October 27. His widow Princess Yuriko and Prime Minister Abe Shinzō are among those who pay their respects to Emperor Akihito’s uncle at the Toshimagaoka imperial cemetery in Tokyo.

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A government panel holds discussions on reducing the official workload of the emperor and related topics, including abdication. It invites comments from 16 specialists in three meetings until November 30. As conservative scholars continue to oppose abdication, opinions are split roughly evenly.

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Japan completes its ratification of the Paris Agreement as the government submits to the United Nations its acceptance of the international framework for tackling global warming from 2020. It sets a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 26% from 2013 levels by 2030.

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A large sinkhole emerges in a road near Hakata Station in Fukuoka where subway construction work is ongoing. The immediate area is evacuated, and the municipality fills the hole with soil containing cement. Utility services are fully restored by November 13 and the road is reopened to traffic on November 15.

Pictures from November 8, 10, and 15 show the sinkhole, repair work, and the reconstructed road in Fukuoka. (© Jiji)

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The city of Chiba announces that from January 2017, LGBT municipal employees living with partners can enjoy the same holiday benefits as heterosexual employees who are married or live together. It is the first Japanese municipality to introduce this kind of measure.

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Prime Minister Abe meets Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Tokyo. The leaders sign a bilateral civil nuclear cooperation pact allowing Japan to export nuclear power equipment and technology to India. They also discuss India’s high-speed rail network. On November 12, Abe and Modi ride the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Kobe, where they visit a plant that makes carriages for the train.

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Actor Mifune Toshirō is honored posthumously with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in a Los Angeles ceremony. Mifune rose to international fame through his collaborations with director Kurosawa Akira in Shichinin no samurai (Seven Samurai) and other films.

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The government decides at a cabinet meeting to expand the mandate of Japanese peacekeeping troops sent to South Sudan. Based on changes to national security laws, which went into force in March this year, the troops will be authorized to fire warning shots and take other action to protect workers for the United Nations and nongovernmental organizations.


Panels in both of Japan’s legislative chambers resume substantive discussions on revising the Constitution. This is the first serious consideration of the issue since July’s House of Councillors vote saw the election of a two-thirds majority favorably inclined to constitutional change. The Liberal Democratic Party stresses the need for prompt discussion of Article 9 and other matters.

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Prime Minister Abe meets in New York with Donald Trump, who won the US presidential election on November 8. It is unusual for a Japanese leader to meet with the US president-elect. During his campaign, Trump made statements suggesting that the Japan-US Alliance should be renegotiated. Abe tells reporters after the meeting, “our alliance will not function without trust. I came away convinced that President-elect Trump is a leader who can be trusted.”

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Two new laws are passed removing restrictions on foreigners becoming nursing care workers and allowing foreign trainees to work directly in nursing environments. The laws aim to address nursing shortages and will come into force within one year.

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Prime Minister Abe meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Lima, Peru. They discuss Putin’s planned visit to Yamaguchi, Japan on December 15. “We are now able to see the path towards resolving the issue of concluding a peace treaty,” Abe tells reporters after the meeting, but says it will not be easy. “I intend to move forward steadily, one step at a time.”

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A powerful earthquake strikes off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture at 5:59 am, causing shaking of lower 5 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale in nearby areas. Minor tsunami are observed from Iwate Prefecture to Hachijōjima in the Izu island chain south of Tokyo. The highest of these is a 140-centimeter tsunami that hits the port of Sendai. The Japan Meteorological Agency reports that the earthquake had a magnitude of 7.4 with a hypocenter 25 kilometers below the surface of the earth. It is thought to be an aftershock from the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011.

Tsunami waves advance upstream on the Sunaoshi River in Tagajō, Miyagi Prefecture, on November 22, 2016. Picture provided by Okazaki Sadatoshi. (© Jiji)

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The governments of Japan and South Korea conclude and bring into force the General Security of Military Information Agreement. The first defense agreement between the two countries is intended to counter North Korea, which is developing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, through the prompt sharing of military intelligence.

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Snow falls in Tokyo and the surrounding area. The JMA reports the first snow observed on the ground in central Tokyo in November since records began in 1875.

Snow falls around the Great Buddha at the Kōtokuin temple in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, on November 24, 2016. (© Jiji)


Japan achieves its highest-ever average scores in all categories in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study published by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement. The survey was conducted in March 2015 on fourth- and eighth-graders in 57 countries and regions. Japan ranks in the top five for both mathematics and science at both levels. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology credits educational reforms going back to basics.

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Nintendo and Universal Parks & Resorts announce that Nintendo-themed areas will be added to Universal theme parks in Osaka, Orlando, and Hollywood. The areas, featuring popular characters like Mario, will open within the next few years.

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The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry announces the official adoption of the name nihonium for element 113, as proposed by the Japanese scientists who created it for the first time. The element’s symbol is Nh. It is the first element to be discovered in Japan.

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UNESCO selects 33 Japanese festivals centered on float processions for its list of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity at an intergovernmental committee meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

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