Features Japan Timeline
Timeline for December 2017
[2018.01.05] Read in: 日本語 | 简体字 | FRANÇAIS | ESPAÑOL | العربية | Русский |

The date of Emperor Akihito’s abdication is fixed, NHK fees are ruled to be constitutional, and baby panda Shan Shan makes her public debut. A review of Japan’s news stories for December 2017.


The Imperial House Council announces that Emperor Akihito will step down on April 30, 2019, and his son Crown Prince Naruhito will accede to the throne on the following day. Japan’s era name will also change on May 1.

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Shōgi player Habu Yoshiharu wins the Ryūō title for the first time in 15 years. By doing so, he becomes the first professional player to win seven eisei lifetime titles.

Habu Yoshiharu secures the Ryūō title in Ibusuki, Kagoshima Prefecture, on December 5, 2017. (© Jiji)

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Japan’s Supreme Court decides that a provision of the Broadcasting Act requiring television owners to complete subscription contracts with NHK is constitutional. It also rules that owners are obliged to pay retroactive fees from the time they started using their televisions.

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The organizing committee of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics unveils the final three pairs of candidates for the games mascots. Elementary school students across the country will vote until February 22, 2018, and the winning pair will be announced on February 28.

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Pitcher Ōtani Shōhei decides to join the Los Angeles Angels. The baseball star had used the posting system to indicate his desire to move from the Hokkaidō Nippon Ham Fighters to the Major Leagues.

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Three of 10 North Korean crew members of a wooden boat are arrested on suspicion of theft after electronic goods and other items go missing from a fishing cooperative facility on the Hokkaidō island of Matsumae Kojima, where they temporarily took shelter.

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The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office’s special investigation squad raids the head office and other facilities belonging to major general contractor Ōbayashi. The company is suspected of unfair restraint of trade related to bidding for the magnetic levitation high-speed rail link scheduled to start operations in 2027.

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JR West announces that it discovered a crack in the frame supporting an N-700 series train on the Shinkansen network between Tokyo and Hakata in Fukuoka Prefecture. The Japan Transport Safety Board designates the case as a serious incident due to the possibility of an accident. This is the first such designation for the Shinkansen from the board.

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The Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation announces its Kanji of the Year: 北 (kita; hoku), meaning “north.” Reasons for the selection included a series of missile launches by North Korea and torrential rains in northern Kyūshū.

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A window frame measuring about 90 centimeters square falls onto the grounds of an elementary school in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture. According to the prefectural government and other sources, it came from a US Marine Corps CH-53E large transport helicopter and slightly injured one student with the wind pressure of its fall.

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The Hiroshima High Court orders the suspension of reactor 3 at Shikoku Electric Power’s Ikata Nuclear Plant in Ehime Prefecture in a case brought by Hiroshima residents.


Rakuten announces plans to apply to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications for frequency band allocation on the 4G mobile network in January 2018. If granted, it will start a new mobile service in 2019, targeting more than 15 million subscribers. The company intends to invest up to ¥600 billion and build its own communications infrastructure.

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Broken wiring on the JR Keihin-Tōhoku line in Yokohama’s Tsurumi ward causes stoppages of up to 6 hours and 40 minutes in some sections of the line. Some 2,400 passengers walk along tracks to Kawasaki Station or other nearby stops. The accident also leads to delays on the Tōkaidō Line and other routes. Some 220,000 passengers are affected on 92 services that do not run.


Shan Shan, a female panda cub born at Ueno Zoo in June, makes her first public appearance.

Shan Shan (left) and mother Shin Shin at Ueno Zoo on December 19, 2017. (Courtesy Tokyo Zoological Park Society; © Jiji.)

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A committee with members from the Tokyo metropolitan government and industry groups sets the opening date for Toyosu Market for October 11, 2018.

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The cabinet approves the government budget for fiscal 2018. At ¥97.7 trillion, it sets a new record for the sixth consecutive year. Welfare spending rises to more than a third of the total budget as Japanese society continues to age.

Kansai Electric decides to scrap reactors 1 and 2 at its Ōi Nuclear Plant in Fukui Prefecture. It will file a specific plan for decommissioning with the government in 2018.

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Popular horse Kitasan Black wins his final race before retirement, finishing first in the Arima Kinen race, ridden by jockey Take Yutaka. With his seventh victory, the Thoroughbred ties the record for most Grade 1 wins in Japan Racing Association races.


Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Nikai Toshihiro and his Kōmeitō counterpart Inoue Yoshihisa meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing. They invite Xi to visit Japan in 2018, the year marking 40 years since the signing of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship.

  • [2018.01.05]
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