Japan Timeline

Timeline for September 2017

Prime Minister Abe dissolves the Diet, Tokyo Governor Koike launches a new national party, Princess Mako is informally engaged, and Kiryū Yoshihide runs 100 meters in under 10 seconds. These are the stories that made headlines in September 2017.


Former Foreign Minister Maehara Seiji is elected as leader of the Democratic Party, defeating former Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano Yukio.

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Japan forcefully criticizes North Korea’s sixth test of a nuclear weapon, conveying its objections to Pyongyang via the Japanese embassy in Beijing. Prime Minister Abe Shinzō states that the test is “totally unacceptable.” He speaks by telephone with US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, discussing the need for the adoption of a new, stronger resolution by the United Nations Security Council addressing North Korea’s actions.

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North Korea Claims Successful Hydrogen Bomb Test (News)

The Imperial Household Agency announces the informal engagement of Emperor Akihito’s granddaughter Princess Mako with legal assistant Komuro Kei. The wedding is expected to take place next autumn. Under the Imperial House Law, the princess will lose her imperial status after marriage.

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Princess Mako’s Informal Engagement Announced (News)


Times Higher Education publishes its World University Rankings 2018 list. The University of Tokyo falls from thirty-ninth to forty-sixth, its lowest ever position. Kyoto University is ranked seventy-fourth.

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Nissan announces the launch of the second generation of its zero-emission Leaf electric vehicle on October 2. The newly remodeled Leaf’s range has been increased from 280 to 400 kilometers. Vehicles will be priced at ¥3.2 million–4.0 million.

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Prime Minister Abe meets with Russian President Putin in Vladivostok. The two leaders discuss their response to North Korea following its nuclear test and agree to cooperate closely, including at the United Nations. They also agree to work together in promoting economic activities in the Northern Territories, which are disputed between the two countries.

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Kiryū Yoshihide becomes the first Japanese sprinter to break the 10-second barrier for the 100-meter dash. His time of 9.98 seconds at a race in Fukui beats the previous national record of 10.00 set 19 years earlier by Itō Kōji.

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Kiryū Becomes First Japanese to Break 10-Second 100-Meter Barrier (News)


Ōsumi Yoshinori, winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, announces the establishment of the Ohsumi Frontier Science Foundation. The Tokyo Institute of Technology honorary professor donates prize money amounting to ¥100 million.

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North Korea fires a ballistic missile over Hokkaidō and into the Pacific Ocean some 2,200 kilometers east of the island’s Cape Erimo. The missile is estimated to have reached a maximum altitude of 800 kilometers and to have traveled 3,700 kilometers. Minister of Defense Onodera Itsunori states that it was likely a Hwasong-12, an intermediate-range ballistic missile.

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A Jiji Press poll finds that Prime Minister Abe’s approval rating has risen to 41.8%, climbing above 40% for the first time since June. His approval rating is also higher than his disapproval rating (36.7%) for the first time in three months. In the poll, 81.3% of respondents say they feel that North Korea’s ongoing nuclear and missile development is a genuine threat.

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Prime Minister Abe tells the leaders of his Liberal Democratic Party that he intends to dissolve the House of Representatives at the September 28 start of the extraordinary Diet session, with a view to holding a snap election in October. The following day he meets with Yamaguchi Natsuo, chief of the LDP’s coalition partner Kōmeitō, gaining his approval for the dissolution.

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The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications announces that as of September 15, there were 35.1 million Japanese citizens aged 65 or over. The proportion of senior citizens within the population rose 0.5 percentage point from 2016 to set a new record of 27.7% There were 2.1 million people aged 90 or over, topping 2 million for the first time.

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Typhoon Talim hits Kyūshū, Shikoku, and the Kansai region of Honshū before coming ashore again on Hokkaidō, leading to flooding and evacuation of residents as it travels along a path that virtually covers the length of Japan. Five deaths are confirmed in Ōita, Kōchi, and Kagawa Prefectures.


Toshiba decides to sell its flash memory unit Toshiba Memory to a Japanese–US–South Korean consortium led by US private equity fund Bain Capital. The sale price is ¥2 trillion, with the total cost for the consortium expected to rise to ¥2.4 trillion after it invests in equipment and facilities.

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Singer Amuro Namie announces on her official website that she plans to retire next September. This month marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of her show business debut.

Singer Amuro Namie walks the red carpet at an MTV event in June 2011 to support victims of the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami that year. (© Jiji Press Photo)

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The National Police Agency announces that it referred a total of 30,262 children suspected to have been abused to child guidance offices in the first half of 2017. It is the highest total since six-month data started being compiled in 2011.

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Prime Minister Abe, US President Trump, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in meet for talks in New York. They agree to significantly increase pressure on North Korea and to encourage China and other countries to thoroughly enforce sanctions adopted at a meeting of the UN Security Council. Abe and Trump also hold separate talks at which they agree to cooperate on the abduction issue.


Former residents of the Northern Territories make the first flights to visit graves on the islands of Kunashiri and Etorofu. A group of 70, including family members and government officials, takes part in the trip, which is extended to the following day after bad weather delays the planned return.

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Tokyo Governor Koike Yuriko announces the formation of a new national party Kibō no Tō (Party of Hope) that she will lead herself. Calling for conservatives and reformers to come together, she declares her intention to field candidates nationwide in October’s lower house election.

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The Tokyo Metropolitan Government announces that Shan Shan (Xiang Xiang according to the Chinese reading of the characters inspiring her name) will be the name of the panda cub born at Ueno Zoo in June this year. Shan Shan will come out to meet the public at the zoo’s panda center in December, when she has reached 6 months of age.

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The World Economic Forum, organizer of the annual convention in Davos, Switzerland, announces its international competitiveness rankings for 2017. Japan ranks ninth among 137 countries and regions, down a notch from its eighth-place ranking in 2016 in the second annual fall for the country on the list.


Immediately after the extraordinary session of the Diet convenes, Prime Minister Abe dissolves the House of Representatives. This places Japan’s political parties on a campaign footing heading toward the October 10 announcement of candidates and the October 22 snap election.

At a convention of all its members in both houses of the Diet, the main opposition Democratic Party gains approval for party leader Maehara Seiji’s proposal to effectively merge with Koike Yuriko’s Party of Hope. Ozawa Ichirō’s Liberal Party has also begin discussing merging its forces with the new group. Koike, meanwhile, rejects the idea of welcoming entire parties into her fold, insisting that any decisions on whom to admit will be made on an individual basis.

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Koike Yuriko Shakes Up October Election Prospect with Party of Hope
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China and Japan mark the forty-fifth anniversary of their normalization of diplomatic relations in September 1972. A day earlier, on September 28, Prime Minister Abe becomes the first Japanese leader in 15 years to attend a celebratory event at the Chinese embassy in Tokyo, where he expresses his desire to visit China and to welcome his counterpart to Japan for a state visit.

Nissan reveals that vehicles were shipped from all of its factories in Japan after receiving their final inspections from unqualified employees. The Transport Ministry instructs the company to implement measures including reinspection of all the vehicles in question. The automaker plans to recall the vehicles, whose number could climb as high as 1 million, and provide free repairs as needed.

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