Japan Timeline

Timeline for March 2018

The government admits Moritomo Gakuen land sale documents were altered, Japan marks seven years since the Great East Japan Earthquake, and the nation’s Paralympic team wins 10 medals in Pyeongchang. These are the top stories of March 2018.


The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors arrest two officials at Taisei and Kajima on suspicion of bid-rigging among four general contractors over the Chūō Shinkansen magnetic levitation high-speed railway project. The new line will initially connect Tokyo and Nagoya in 2027.

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Tsuji Kazuhiro wins the Academy Award for best makeup and hairstyling for his transformation of Darkest Hour actor Gary Oldman to look like Winston Churchill. He is the first Japanese winner in the category.

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The Japan Wrestling Federation holds an ethics meeting to discuss alleged harassment of four-time Olympic gold medal winner Ichō Kaori by Sakae Kazuhito, the federation’s development director. It decides to establish a third-party group, which will hold hearings with those involved and establish whether abuse of power took place.

Kobe Steel Chairman and President Kawasaki Hiroya announces his resignation as of April 1, taking responsibility for fabrication of quality data for aluminum, copper, and other products. Vice President Kaneko Akira, the head of the aluminum and copper business, also resigns.


The Ministry of Finance submits to the House of Councillors Budget Committee copies of documents concerning the sale of state-owned land to school operator Moritomo Gakuen, amid growing allegations that changes were made to the documents. It states these are the same as those disclosed to Diet members. On March 9, National Tax Agency Commissioner Sagawa Nobuhisa, who was involved with the issue as director-general of the ministry's Financial Bureau, resigns his post.

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The nation marks the seventh anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake, which left more than 18,000 people dead or missing. Prince Akishino, Princess Kiko, Prime Minister Abe Shinzō, and family members of the victims attend an event at the National Theater in Tokyo

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The government admits that 14 files related to the Moritomo Gakuen land sale were altered in and after late February 2017 after news about the controversial discount came to light.

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The cabinet adopts bills to amend the Civil Code to lower Japan’s age of adulthood from 20 to 18. Under the plan, new bills will be introduced to maintain the drinking and smoking age at 20. If passed, the change will come into effect on April 1, 2022.

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Naha District Court rejects Okinawa Prefecture’s call for a halt to reclamation work carried out by the national government at Henoko in the city of Nago on the grounds that it is illegal, as the government did not seek permission to break up reefs. Henoko is the planned site for relocation of the US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.

Writer Uchida Yasuo, creator of the popular detective Asami Mitsuhiko, dies at the age of 83.


Tokyo District Court rules that the national government and TEPCO were negligent following the 2011 accident at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, ordering them to pay damages of ¥59 million to 42 plaintiffs. A total of 47 people from 17 households, who evacuated following the disaster, were seeking ¥634 million.


The Winter Paralympic Games come to an end in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The Japanese team finishes with ten medals (three gold, four silver, and three bronze), improving on the six medals (three gold, one silver, and two bronze) of the 2014 games in Sochi, Russia.

Japan’s Winter Paralympics medal winners and delegation chief pictured following their return to Narita Airport on March 19, 2018. Clockwise from top left: Cross-country skier Nitta Yoshihiro, snowboarder Narita Gurimu, alpine skier Muraoka Momoka, delegation chief Obinata Kuniko, alpine skier Morii Taiki. (© Jiji)

Ōsaka Naomi wins the women’s singles competition at the BNP Paribas Open. On the way to her first-ever title, she defeats world number one Simona Helep of Romania in the semifinals.

Ōsaka Naomi training in Indian Wells, California, on March 17, 2018, the day before the BNP Paribas Open final. (© Jiji)


The Japan Pension Service announces that a Tokyo information processing firm assigned to input the personal information of 5 million pensioners outsourced the job to a Chinese company in breach of its contract.

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Foreign Minister Kōno Tarō meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Tokyo, where they discuss a joint economic program in the Northern Territories. They agree to strengthen efforts to achieve results ahead of Prime Minister Abe’s planned visit to Russia in May.


The Liberal Democratic Party constitutional revision headquarters decides to give its chief Hosoda Hiroyuki responsibility for dealing with Article 9 amendments. Hosoda aims to retain clauses about renouncing war and not maintaining armed forces and to create a new clause making clear the role of the Self-Defense Forces.

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Three people die after a group of seven suffers a fall while climbing Mount Amida in Nagano Prefecture.


Former MOF official Sagawa Nobuhisa tells the Diet that there was no instruction from the prime minister’s office about altering documents related to the Moritomo Gakuen sale. He testifies that the matter was handled by the MOF Financial Bureau and refuses to say who ordered the changes or from what motive.

Sagawa Nobuhisa (left) answers questions from Marukawa Tamayo of the LDP (right foreground) in the Diet on March 27, 2018. (© Jiji)

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Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko begin a three-day trip to Okinawa in which they visit Japan’s westernmost point on the island of Yonaguni on March 28. This is their sixth visit since Akihito became emperor and their eleventh overall. It is expected to be their last before he abdicates at the end of April 2019.
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The Diet enacts the government’s record ¥97.7 trillion budget for fiscal 2018 after it is approved at a plenary meeting of the House of Councillors.
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