Japan Timeline

Timeline for February 2017

Prime Minister Abe meets President Trump at the White House, Carlos Ghosn steps down as president of Nissan, and the Asian Winter Games are held in Sapporo. Look back at the major Japan-related stories of February 2017.


The Supreme Court’s January 31 decision in a case on the right to be forgotten becomes public knowledge. The court ruled against a man’s request for Google to delete search results concerning his arrest in a 2011 child prostitution case, stating that “his arrest record relates to the public interest.”

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Prime Minister Abe Shinzō and Defense Minister Inada Tomomi meet the first member of US President Donald Trump’s cabinet to come to Japan when Secretary of Defense James Mattis visits Tokyo. Following campaign comments by Trump that Japan does not pay enough to support US troops based in the country, Mattis says at a joint press conference with Inada that Japan has been “a model of cost sharing.”

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Ishikawa Masami is reelected as mayor of Chiyoda, Tokyo, with the support of Governor Koike Yuriko, soundly defeating the Liberal Democratic Party candidate. Koike now has significant momentum ahead of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election in July, in which she aims to wrest seats away from the LDP for her own party.


The Ministry of Defense begins offshore construction at Henoko, Nago, in preparation for the construction of a facility to replace the US Marine Corps’ Futenma air station in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture. On February 7, concrete blocks are dropped into the sea in the first stage of land reclamation. Okinawa Prefecture strongly opposes the move and Governor Onaga Takeshi calls for an immediate halt to development.

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Japan Continues Work at US Base Relocation Site in Okinawa (News)

The Riken Center for Developmental Biology in Kobe begins soliciting for patients to receive the world’s first transplants of tissue created with induced pluripotent stem cells from another donor. One of the five patients would receive retina cells made from iPS cells during the first half of 2017.

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Five Patients Sought to Receive Donor Transplants of iPS Cells (News)


The Ministry of Finance publishes balance of payment statistics for 2016 showing that Japan’s current account surplus is ¥20.6 trillion. It is the second-highest total since comparable statistics began in 1985, topped only by the total of ¥24.9 trillion in 2007.


Prime Minister Abe meets President Trump for the first time since the latter’s election. In talks at the White House, the two agree to strengthen the Japan-US alliance and affirm that Article V of the joint security treaty, which stipulates the United States’ obligation to defend Japan, covers the Senkaku Islands. They also agree to set up economic talks between Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Asō Tarō and US Vice President Mike Pence to discuss trade and ways to expand investment and employment.

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Japan’s women’s ice hockey team becomes the country’s first representative to secure qualification for next year’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Japan’s female hockey players celebrate a victory over Germany in Tomakomai, Hokkaidō, on February 12, 2017, which ensures the team will progress to next year’s Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. (© Jiji)


Toshiba announces that its net worth stood at negative ¥191.2 billion at the end of December 2016, due to massive losses from its US nuclear power plant business. President Tsunakawa Satoshi admits at a press conference that the company may be forced to sell the whole of its flash memory business to recover capital.

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The Ministry of Education announces changes to curriculum guidelines for elementary and junior high schools from the 2020 academic year. Activities for learning English through songs and games will begin in the third grade of elementary school rather than the fifth grade as now. In the fifth grade, English will become a regular subject.

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English to Become Regular Elementary School Subject in Japan (News)


Takanashi Sara wins her fifty-third Ski Jumping World Cup title in Pyeongchang, South Korea, thereby equaling the record for both men and women.

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A House of Representatives budget committee raises concerns over the acquisition of state-owned land in Osaka for a private elementary school by the school operator Moritomo Gakuen. The land was discounted by some ¥800 million to just ¥134 million. First Lady Abe Akie resigns as honorary head of the school on February 24.

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The Asian Winter Games begin in Sapporo. They continue until February 26, with 32 countries and regions participating. Japan hosts the games for the first time since 2003 in Aomori and tops the medal table with 27 golds.

A traditional Ainu dance at the opening ceremony for the Asian Winter Games in Sapporo on February 19, 2017. (© Jiji)


Karolina Styczynska of Poland is promoted to become the first non-Japanese female shōgi professional after winning a preliminary match in the Women’s Meijin tournament in Tokyo.


Artist Kusama Yayoi’s largest exhibition ever opens at the National Art Center in Roppongi, Tokyo. Yayoi Kusama: My Eternal Soul will continue until May 22.

Kusama Yayoi appears at a ceremony on February 21, 2017, the day before the opening of her new exhibition.

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Nissan announces that from April 1 Carlos Ghosn will step down from his roles as president and chief executive officer. He will be succeeded by Saikawa Hiroto, who is currently co-CEO. After 17 years as president, Ghosn will remain chairman with representative rights, while managing the alliance with Renault and Mitsubishi Motors.

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Murakami Haruki’s new novel Kishidanchō goroshi (Killing Commendatore) is released in Japan. The opening print run for both volumes of the work reaches a total of 1.3 million copies.

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The government and Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) launch the Premium Friday campaign, encouraging businesses to finish early on the last Friday of each month to boost consumer spending.

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Miura Kazuyoshi becomes the first player in soccer’s J. League to make an appearance at the age of 50, representing Yokohama FC against Matsumoto Yamaga in the team’s first game of the season. On his fiftieth birthday, he beats his own record as the oldest player to participate in a league match.

Miura Kazuyoshi (right) of Yokohama FC chases the ball in a match against Matsumoto Yamaga at the Mitsuzawa Stadium, Yokohama, on February 26, 2017. (© Jiji)


Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko fly from Haneda Airport to the Vietnamese capital Hanoi. On their first visit to the country, the imperial couple will be state guests until March 5. They will then visit Thailand to pay their respects to King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died last October, before returning to Japan on the evening of March 6.

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi, Vietnam, on February 28, 2017. They are greeted by Vietnamese Vice President Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh (right). (© Jiji)

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