Japan Timeline

Timeline for July 2018

Death sentences are carried out on 13 Aum Shinrikyō cult members, more than 200 people die in heavy rain in western Japan, and Kumagaya in Saitama Prefecture records Japan’s highest ever temperature of 41.1 degrees. Look back on Japan’s top news stories in July 2018.


The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership ministers’ meeting takes place in Tokyo. The RCEP participants, hailing from the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and other economies that have entered free-trade agreements with the bloc, decide to target a substantial agreement by the end of the year. After a further ministers’ meeting at the end of August, leaders of the 16 countries involved will meet in November.

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Japan fails to achieve a first appearance in the quarterfinals of the FIFA World Cup after squandering a 2–0 lead and losing 3–2 to Belgium in the first knockout stage.

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Rakugo storyteller Katsura Utamaru, well-known for his appearances on the popular television show Shōten, dies at the age of 81.

Katsura Utamaru pictured in April 2007. (© Jiji)


The cabinet approves the new basic energy plan, making its first clear statement that it will work to reduce Japan's plutonium stockpile, derived from spent nuclear fuel.


The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office's special investigation squad arrests Sano Futoshi—director-general of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology’s Science and Technology Policy Bureau—on suspicion of receiving a bribe. He is said to have given Tokyo Medical University favorable treatment in selection for a support program in exchange for having his son fraudulently given a passing mark in entrance exams.

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The Ministry of Justice executes Aum Shinrikyō leader Matsumoto Chizuo (Asahara Shōko) and six other former members of the cult. On July 26, it completes executions of the six remaining members sentenced to death.

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Record-breaking rainfall causes major flooding and landslides, with western Japan bearing the brunt of the disaster. More than 200 people are killed in 14 prefectures, including many in Hiroshima, Okayama, and Ehime. It is Japan’s deadliest rain-related disaster since 1982.

Flooded streets in Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, on July 8, 2018. (© Jiji)

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Kanagawa prefectural police arrest nurse Kuboki Ayumi on suspicion of poisoning a patient through his drip in September 2016 at a Yokohama hospital. On July 28, she is rearrested on a second murder charge. Kuboki states that she poisoned around 20 people.


The foreign ministers of Japan, the United States, and South Korea meet in Tokyo. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says at a joint press conference after the meeting that, “sanctions will remain in place until final, fully verified denuclearization, as agreed to by Chairman Kim [Jong-un], occur.”


Oil refiners Idemitsu and Shōwa Shell announce that they have agreed to merge in April 2019 through an exchange of shares.


The Ōtsu District Court grants a retrial for a 1984 case in which a man was accused of killing a woman and stealing her cashbox in Hino, Shiga Prefecture. The plaintiff, Sakahara Hiromu, died during his indefinite prison term, but his family filed a second appeal in 2012.

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The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications announces that the number of Japanese citizens decreased by 374,000 from the previous year to 125,210,000. It is the largest drop since records began in 1968. The foreign population increased by 174,000 to a record 2,497,000.


The Tokyo 2020 organizing committee announces that the Olympic torch relay will begin in Fukushima Prefecture. On July 20, ticket prices are announced. General admission tickets for Olympic competition events range from ¥2,500 to ¥130,000, while the most expensive tickets for the opening ceremony are ¥300,000. Sales will begin in spring 2019.

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Prime Minister Abe Shinzō meets with European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in Tokyo, where they sign an economic partnership agreement between Japan and the European Union. Both sides hope to bring the EPA into force in 2019.


A bill to increase the number of House of Councillors seats by six passes in the lower house with the support of the ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and Kōmeitō. It will come into effect from the summer 2019 elections.

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The House of Councillors passes a bill strengthening measures against secondhand smoke, which will come into full force in April 2020.

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It is announced that stage director Asari Keita, a founder member of the Shiki Theater Company, died on July 13 at the age of 85.

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The awards ceremony for the Akutagawa and Naoki Prizes is held in Tokyo. Takahashi Hiroki wins the Akutagawa Prize for Okuribi (Ceremonial Fires), and Shimamoto Rio wins the Naoki Prize for Fāsuto ravu (First Love).

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The House of Councillors passes a bill to introduce integrated resorts with casinos with the backing of the ruling coalition and Nippon Ishin no Kai.

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Sekiwake Mitakeumi defeats Tochiōzan on the fourteenth day of the Nagoya Grand Sumō Tournament to win his first ever competition.

Mitakeumi (left) receives the Emperor’s Cup from Japan Sumō Association Chairman Hakkaku at Dolphins Arena in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, on July 22, 2018. (© Jiji)


The temperature in Kumagaya, Saitama Prefecture, hits 41.1º, setting a new Japanese record for the first time since 2013. On July 24, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications’ Fire and Disaster Management Agency announces that a total of 22,647 heatstroke victims were provided emergency transportation in the week of July 16–22, of whom 65 died.

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LDP Policy Research Council Chair Kishida Fumio announces that he will not run in the party presidential election in September, pledging his support for Prime Minister Abe.

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The Japan Football Association announces that it has appointed Moriyasu Hajime as national team coach. Moriyasu will also lead the men’s team at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo before targeting qualification for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.


Kyōgen actor Nomura Mansai is appointed chief executive director of the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo

Nomura Mansai (center) at the Tokyo press conference on July 31, 2018, following his appointment as chief executive director for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic opening and closing ceremonies. Film director Yamazaki Takashi (left) and creative director Sasaki Hiroshi (right) are also part of the team. (© Jiji)

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Kyoto University announces that it will start clinical trials of treatment for Parkinson’s disease using induced pluripotent stem cells. It is the world’s first attempt to transplant neural precursor cells made from iPS cells into patients’ brains.
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At its monetary policy meeting, the Bank of Japan decides to be more flexible in its policy of guiding 10-year government bond yields to around 0% and to tolerate greater deviation from this target. It adopts forward guidance and pledges its continued commitment to current low rates of interest.
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