Japan Timeline

Timeline for August 2017

North Korea fires a missile over Hokkaidō, Prime Minister Abe reshuffles his cabinet, and Toyota and Mazda enter a business and capital alliance. Look back at the major stories of August 2017.


A team at Kyoto University’s Center for iPS Cell Research and Application announces it has used iPS cells in the discovery of a chemical compound that may prevent a rare disease that creates bone within muscles. It plans to begin a clinical trial in September with the aim of winning approval to use the drug as medicine. It is the first clinical trial in the world of a drug developed using iPS cells.

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The National Institute of Population and Social Security Research announces that social welfare payments—including pensions and medical and nursing costs—rose 2.4% in fiscal 2015 to a record ¥114.9 trillion. Total payments per citizen rose 2.5% to an average of ¥903,700, which was also the highest ever.


Prime Minister Abe Shinzō reshuffles his cabinet for the third time since being reelected in 2014, replacing 13 of 19 ministers. Kōno Tarō is named as foreign minister and Noda Seiko as minister of internal affairs and communications. Abe also states at a press conference that it is not necessary for the Liberal Democratic Party to submit a proposal for revising the Constitution during the autumn session of the Diet and to put the revised Constitution into effect in 2020, as previously suggested.

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Toyota and Mazda announce that they have entered a business and capital alliance. They will conduct joint development of electrical vehicle and advanced safety technologies and share costs of a $1.6 billion investment in a new US plant capable of producing 300,000 vehicles a year.


At a ceremony in Hiroshima marking 72 years since the atomic bombing of the city, Hiroshima Mayor Matsui Kazumi calls for the abolition of nuclear weapons. Following the adoption by 122 countries of a United Nations treaty banning nuclear weapons in July, he states, “the governments of all countries must now strive to advance further toward a nuclear-weapon-free world.” At the August 9 ceremony marking the anniversary of the Nagasaki bombing, Mayor Taue Tomihisa urges Japan to join the UN treaty.

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Wakasa Masaru, a lawmaker close to Tokyo Governor Koike Yuriko, announces the formation of his new political group Nippon Fāsuto no Kai (Japan First). He plans to cooperate with Koike in establishing a new party to contest the next lower house election.

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Prime Minister Abe Shinzō’s approval rating climbs 6.7 percentage points to 36.6%, according to a Jiji Press opinion poll. Although his disapproval rating falls 4.5 points to 44.1%, it remains higher than his approval rating for the second successive month.

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Toshiba files its financial statement with the Kantō Local Finance Bureau for the fiscal year ended March 2017. After a three-month delay, it posts a loss of ¥965.6 billion, which is a record for a Japanese manufacturer. The company’s auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers Aarata gives a “qualified opinion,” due to some misrepresentation of losses from Toshiba’s US nuclear business.

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Following North Korean threats on August 9 to fire missiles targeting the vicinity of Guam, the Ministry of Defense deploys Patriot ground-to-air guided missiles at Self-Defense Force bases in Shimane, Hiroshima, Ehime, and Kōchi Prefectures. The deployment is in preparation for such contingencies as missiles or debris falling on Japanese territory.

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Japan wins bronze in the men’s 4 x 100-meter relay at the World Championships in Athletics in London. Arai Hirooki and Kobayashi Kai also take silver and bronze, respectively, in the men’s 50-kilometer race walk.


The cabinet office announces Japan’s second-quarter gross domestic product rose at an annualized rate of 4.0%, climbing 1% from the previous quarter, excluding price fluctuations. Strong domestic demand fueled by consumer spending and private capital investment led to a sixth successive quarter of growth for the first time in 11 years.


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 the previous two ceremonies, Emperor Akihito expresses “deep remorse.”


The University of the Ryūkyūs announces that it recorded video of an otter in Tsushima, Nagasaki Prefecture, on February 6. This is the first time a river otter has been spotted in Japan in 38 years. Believing that it may have been a Japanese river otter, declared extinct in 2012, the Ministry of the Environment conducted a survey on the island in July. It found river otter DNA in sampled droppings, but could not confirm the species.

A camera placed on Tsushima by the University of the Ryūkyūs Animal Ecology Laboratory captures images of what appears to be an otter on February 6, 2017. (Courtesy University of the Ryūkyūs; distributed under a Creative Commons license)

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Six Chinese bombers pass through the sky above international waters between Okinawa’s main island and Miyakojima, flying as far as the Pacific Ocean off the Kii Peninsula for the first time. Although the aircraft did not enter Japanese airspace, Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide stated that Japan would increase its vigilance.


A government advisory panel on disaster preparedness issues a report saying that it is impossible to predict massive earthquakes in the Nankai Trough with a high degree of accuracy. It calls for a review of current measures based on earthquake predictions. The government is fundamentally reconsidering the Act on Special Measures Concerning Countermeasures for Large-Scale Earthquakes for the first time in some 40 years.


The Anime Tourism Association announces its list of 88 locations for fans to visit on a “pilgrimage” around Japan. Locations include Hida in Gifu Prefecture, which inspired the backgrounds in movie hit Kimi no na wa (Your Name).
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Six people are arrested on suspicion of infraction of the regenerative medicine safety law in a joint operation by police forces in Ehime and three other prefectures. Clinics in Tokyo, Osaka, and elsewhere administered blood from umbilical cords to patients without notifying the authorities. The patients included many from China and other countries.


Former Prime Minister Hata Tsutomu dies at the age of 82. Having left the Liberal Democratic Party in the name of political reform, he became prime minister in 1994 as head of a multiparty coalition opposed to the LDP. However, he stepped down after just 64 days, which is the shortest tenure of any Japanese leader under the current Constitution.


North Korea launches a ballistic missile without warning, which flies over Hokkaidō before dropping into the sea around 1,180 kilometers east of Cape Erimo. The government lodges a strong protest through diplomatic channels.
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At a qualifying round match in Saitama Stadium, Japan's national soccer team defeats Australia 2–0 to finish on top of Asia Group B and secure a berth at the 2018 World Cup to be held in Russia. The team, currently skippered by Vahid Halilhodzic, will appear in its sixth straight World Cup since the France 1998 tournament.
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