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Features Japan Timeline
Timeline for October 2018

Kyoto University Professor Honjo Tasuku wins the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, industrial parts manufacturer KYB announces that it has discovered falsified data, and journalist Yasuda Junpei is released from captivity in Syria. Here are all the top Japan stories from October 2018.


Kyoto University Professor Honjo Tasuku is awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation.

Professor Honjo Tasuku gives a press conference in Kyoto after winning the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine on October 1, 2018. (© Jiji)

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Five CV-22 Osprey aircraft are officially deployed at the US Air Force’s Yokota Air Base. It is the first deployment of these aircraft to a US base in Japan outside Okinawa.

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Prime Minister Abe Shinzō reshuffles his cabinet. While he retains key allies like Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Asō Tarō and Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide, he introduces 12 new members in his most extensive reshuffle since coming to office.


Toyota and Softbank announce that they have entered a partnership cooperating on new mobility services using autonomous driving technologies. They establish a joint venture and will launch vehicle dispatch services for municipalities and corporations in fiscal 2018.

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The Financial Services Agency orders Suruga Bank to cease offering fresh loans for real estate investment for six months, a punitive measure for its improper financing practices.

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Tsukiji Market in Tokyo closes after 83 years as Japan’s leading location for sales of fisheries products. The relocated market at Toyosu opens on October 11.

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The Asian Para Games begin in Jakarta, Indonesia, continuing until October 13. Japan wins a total of 45 medals, topping its previous record of 38 set at the previous competition in Incheon, Korea, in 2014.


Kake Kōtarō—head of the educational group Kake Gakuen, the entity at the center of a scandal over governmental approval for construction of a new veterinary facility—holds a press conference in Imabari, Ehime Prefecture. He again denies meeting Prime Minister Abe Shinzō in February 2015, contradicting prefectural records.


Former yokozuna Wajima Hiroshi dies in Tokyo at the age of 70. He was the first former university student sumō wrestler to attain the top rank in professional sumō and won 14 grand tournaments.

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Keidanren formally decides to scrap guidelines on hiring of graduates after spring 2021. On October 15, the government seeks to avoid confusion by clarifying to companies that the current guidelines will continue to apply to new hires offered positions in spring 2021 itself.

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The government presents an outline for a new residence status it wishes to introduce in April 2019 with the aim of increasing foreign workers to tackle the nation’s labor shortage. Highly skilled workers will be allowed to remain indefinitely and bring their families to Japan.

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Ground Self-Defense Force troops hold joint exercises with US Marines in Tanegashima, Kagoshima Prefecture, based on the scenario of recapturing a remote island.


Shōwa University admits that it altered the results of entrance examinations to its medical school to favor first- and second-time test takers.

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Tokyo police arrest eight members of a criminal group that conned Osaka firm Sekisui House out of ¥5.5 billion by posing as owners of land in Shinagawa, Tokyo.

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Industrial parts manufacturer KYB announces that it has discovered data falsification related to some of its oil dampers used for seismic isolation and vibration control, which are used in 986 Japanese structures including condominiums and hospitals. On October 19, it announces the names of 70 affected buildings.

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Under the administrative complaint review act, the Ministry of Defense’s Okinawa Defense Bureau files a request for a review of the Okinawa prefectural government’s move to block the relocation of the US Marine Corps air base in Futenma to Henoko, Nago. On October 30, Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism Ishii Keiichi suspends the prefectural government’s withdrawal of approval for necessary landfill work, allowing the project to proceed.

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Table tennis star Fukuhara Ai announces her retirement at the age of 29 on her blog. Fukuhara won Olympic medals as part of the Japanese women’s team in London in 2012 and Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

Fukuhara Ai with flowers at an October 23 Tokyo press conference about her retirement. (© Jiji)

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A third-party panel releases its report on inflated numbers of disabled workers at central government agencies, announcing that its inquiry found that 3,700 workers had been counted inappropriately as of June 1, 2017.

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Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga announces that he has heard from the Qatari government that freelance journalist Yasuda Junpei has been released, three years after he was apparently abducted by an extremist Islamic group in Syria. On October 25, Yasuda arrives at Narita Airport on a flight from Istanbul.

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Prime Minister Abe renews his call for constitutional amendment in his policy speech at the start of the Diet’s extraordinary session. He also announces plans for social security reform.

An advisory panel recommends Japan’s traditional raihō-shin divine visit rituals for inclusion on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

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Prime Minister Abe talks in Beijing with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The two leaders agree to build a new bilateral relationship in which their countries will shift from competition to cooperation and there will be regular visits by each leader.

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Prime Minister Abe holds talks in Tokyo with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They agree to strengthen security and economic cooperation to further Abe’s Free and Open Indo-Pacific strategy. They also decide to set up a two-plus-two security dialogue between the countries’ foreign and defense ministers.

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Princess Ayako, the third daughter of Emperor Akihito’s cousin Prince Takamado, marries shipping firm employee Moriya Kei at the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo.

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Foreign minister Kōno Tarō talks on the telephone with his South Korean counterpart Kang Kyung-wha after the South Korean Supreme Court orders Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal to pay compensation to former workers for their forced labor during World War II. Kōno calls for a prompt and resolute response from the South Korean government to prevent damage to bilateral relations.

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(Banner photo: Princess Ayako and Moriya Kei arrive at the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo for their wedding on October 29, 2018. © Jiji.)

  • [2018.11.01]
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