Japan Timeline

Timeline for July 2017

The Liberal Democratic Party loses heavily in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election, Japan and the European Union reach a deal on a broad framework for an economic partnership agreement, and Okinoshima is named as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Here are the top Japan news stories for July 2017.


The regional party Tomin Fāsuto no Kai (Tokyo Citizens First) led by Governor Koike Yuriko wins 49 seats in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election to become the leading party in the capital. Including Kōmeitō and other supporters, the Koike camp has a clear majority, with 79 out of 127 seats. The Liberal Democratic Party slumps from 57 to 23 seats, below its previous record low of 38 seats.

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Japan’s youngest professional shōgi player Fujii Sōta (14) loses his thirtieth game to end his record-breaking unbeaten streak at 29. Fourth-dan Fujii is defeated by fifth-dan Sasaki Yūki, 22, in the second round of the Ryūō tournament, meaning he can no longer become the first junior high school student to win the competition.

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Venomous fire ants, native to South America, are discovered at the Port of Osaka. This is one of several sightings around the country since the insects were first spotted in a shipping container in Amagasaki, Hyōgo Prefecture, on May 26. The Ministry of the Environment states that as of July 25, there have been reports of fire ants in 10 locations in the prefectures of Hyōgo, Aichi, Osaka, Tokyo, Kanagawa, Fukuoka, and Ōita.


Heavy rains in Fukuoka and Ōita Prefectures cause flooding and landslides. The total of 35 confirmed fatalities is higher than that following flooding in the north of Kyūshū five years ago. There are still six people unaccounted for in Asakura, Fukuoka.

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Prime Minister Abe Shinzō talks in Brussels with European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker before formally announcing a broad framework for an economic partnership agreement between Japan and the European Union. In the dairy sector, which had been a difficult area to negotiate, Japan will introduce a low-tariff import quota for Camembert and other soft cheeses before removing tariffs altogether after 15 years. Japan will ultimately entirely remove tariffs on around 95% of trade goods, roughly the same proportion as in the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership.

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UNESCO announces that it has registered the Sacred Island of Okinoshima and Associated Sites in the Munakata Region on its World Heritage list. It thereby overturns the May recommendation by the International Council on Monuments and Sites that only four of the eight proposed locations should be accepted. Japan now has 21 World Heritage sites, of which 17 are cultural.

The Okitsu shrine hall of the Munakata grand shrine, part of the Okinoshima locations registered as a World Heritage site. (© Jiji)

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The Diet holds a special hearing to discuss issues related to the plan to build a new veterinary school by Kake Gakuen, which is headed by a friend of Prime Minister Abe. Maekawa Kihei, a former bureaucrat at the Ministry of Education, states that the Prime Minister’s Office was involved behind the scenes in approving construction of the school in a specially designated strategic district. At a July 24 hearing, Abe states that he will not revoke approval for the plan but will seriously consider what he can do to clear the doubts of citizens.

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The Tokyo Summary Court decides to put advertising giant Dentsu on formal trial for violating overtime regulations. In a rare move, it reverses the decision of Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office, judging the summary indictment brought by the office as inappropriate.

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The Ministry of Justice announces that two death-row prisoners have been executed. Nishikawa Masakatsu was convicted for murdering four women in 1991 and Sumida Kōichi for killing a woman in 2011. Nishikawa had been seeking a retrial.

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A Jiji poll conducted on July 7–10 finds that the approval rating for the Abe cabinet has fallen by 15.2 percentage points from the previous month to just 29.9%. It is the biggest drop since Abe was elected for the second time in December 2012; his approval rating drops below 30% for the first time. The disapproval rating also climbs 14.7 points to a record high of 48.6%.

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Hinohara Shigeaki, honorary head of St. Luke’s International Hospital in Tokyo, dies of respiratory failure at the age of 105. A recipient of the Order of Culture, he became a symbol of Japan’s aging society by continuing to practice medicine after the age of 100.

A portrait of Hinohara Shigeaki displayed at his funeral in Tokyo on July 29. (© Jiji)


Numata Shinsuke wins the 157th Akutagawa Prize for his novella Eiri (Shadow’s Reverse). Satō Shōgo wins the Naoki Prize for Tsuki no michikake (The Waxing and Waning of the Moon).

The Japan National Tourism Organization announces that an estimated 13.8 million foreign tourists visited Japan in the first half of 2017. This is a 17.4% increase on the same period in 2016, setting a new record for the fifth consecutive year. The number of visitors from Asia greatly increased, in part due to more services by low-cost carriers.

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At a Monetary Policy Meeting, the Bank of Japan delays the expected timing of attaining its target of 2% inflation from fiscal 2018 to fiscal 2019. This is the sixth postponement and comes after the most recent delay in November 2016. The new target date means that it will not be attained during the term of current Governor Kuroda Haruhiko, which ends in April 2018.

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An economic and fiscal paper from the government suggest that a “fourth industrial revolution” sustained by artificial intelligence and other technologies will increase productivity, pushing up employment and wages. It also raises the possibility that simple jobs that do not require high-level skills could be performed using new technologies. It stresses the need to push forward both work-style reform and innovation to meet labor shortages.

Mongolian-born yokozuna Hakuhō wins his 1,048th career bout during the Nagoya tournament, setting a new record by overtaking the 1,047 total set by Kaiō, who is now head of the Asakayama Stable.

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Democratic Party leader Renhō announces her resignation, taking responsibility for confusion within the party following its weak performance in the July 2 Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election.

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The Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengō) withdraws support for a plan to exempt highly paid specialist jobs from working-hours regulations. The government’s proposed revision to the Labor Standards Act faced continued opposition from Rengō’s member unions, prompting the executive committee to backtrack on its original endorsement.

Ishizawa Yoshiaki is named as one of the six recipients of the 2017 Ramon Magsaysay Award, known as “Asia’s Nobel Prize.” He is selected for his efforts to preserve and restore Cambodia’s Angkor Wat.

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Inada Tomomi resigns as Minister of Defense following a coverup by ministry and Self-Defense Force officials of daily logs of SDF peacekeeping operations in South Sudan.

Inada Quits as Defense Minister over Cover-Up Scandal (News) Japan Self-Defense Forces Participation in UN Peacekeeping: An Idea Whose Time is Past

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