Japan Timeline

Timeline for February 2019

News

Okinawans vote against the relocation of a US base in a prefectural referendum, the Hayabusa2 probe touches down on an asteroid, and swimmer Ikee Rikako announces that she has leukemia. A summary of the major stories in Japan in February 2019.

1

The economic partnership agreement between Japan and the European Union comes into effect, creating a free-trade bloc accounting for 40% of international trade.

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4

Prime Minister Abe Shinzō meets with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Tokyo. They reach a broad accord on an information protection agreement and agree to promote free trade, responding to protectionist moves by US President Donald Trump.

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5

In documents sent to prosecutors, Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police Department concludes that former Nihon University coach Uchida Masato and assistant coach Inoue Tsutomu did not incite one of the college team’s football players to assault an opponent with an illegal tackle in a May 2018 game against Kwansei Gakuin University.

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6

Swine fever cases are discovered at six farms in Aichi, Gifu, and three other prefectures. On February 13, a new case is confirmed in Aichi. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries announces on February 22 that it will feed vaccines mixed with fodder to wild boars from March to prevent the disease from spreading further.

Osaka prefectural workers prepare for the slaughter of pigs infected with swine fever at a farm in the city of Higashi Osaka on February 8, 2019. (Courtesy Osaka prefectural government; © Jiji)
Osaka prefectural workers prepare for the slaughter of pigs infected with swine fever at a farm in the city of Higashi Osaka on February 8, 2019. (Courtesy Osaka prefectural government; © Jiji)

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7

Apartment rental company Leopalace21 announces that it has found defects at 1,300 of the buildings it manages across 33 prefectures. It plans to first ask 7,782 residents to leave 641 buildings in urgent need of repair. The company says it will cover all expenses.

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8

The author Sakaiya Taichi, known for coining the phrase dankai no sedai (equivalent to “baby-boom generation”), dies in a Tokyo hospital at the age of 83.

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10

Tokyo-born director Murai Hiro wins the Grammy Award for Best Music Video.

12

Prime Minister Abe criticizes South Korean National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang’s call for Emperor Akihito to make an apology regarding wartime “comfort women.” At a parliamentary meeting, he states that Moon should apologize and retract the statement.

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Swimmer Ikee Rikako announces on her Twitter account that she has been diagnosed with leukemia.

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14

New Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard makes his first visit to Japan since being appointed and talks with CEO Saikawa Hiroto of alliance partner Nissan.

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Thirteen same-sex couples file damages lawsuits against the government in Tokyo, Sapporo, Nagoya, and Osaka, on the basis that not allowing them to marry is a violation of the Constitution, which guarantees freedom of marriage.

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16

Foreign Minister Kōno Tarō meets with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Munich, Germany, for talks related to a bilateral peace treaty and the dispute over the Northern Territories. They agree to arrange another meeting soon in Japan.

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18

A Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare committee approves a clinical research plan from a Keiō University team to create nerve cells from healthy iPS cells and transplant them into patients with spinal cord injuries. This world-first experiment is scheduled to begin in the autumn of 2019.

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19

Honda announces that it will close its automobile manufacturing plant in Swindon, Britain, in 2021. The decision follows weak sales in Europe, and the company states that the decision has nothing to do with Britain’s planned exit from the EU.

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The Ōtsu District Court orders two former classmates of a junior high school boy who killed himself in 2011 to pay \37 million in damages for having caused his death. The boy’s bereaved parents had filed a suit against three former classmates and their parents.

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21

A powerful earthquake hits Hokkaidō, registering lower 6 on the intensity scale in the town of Atsuma. No serious injuries are reported.

A house damaged by a landslide caused by an earthquake in Atsuma, Hokkaidō. Photograph taken on February 22, 2019. (© Jiji)
A house damaged by a landslide caused by an earthquake in Atsuma, Hokkaidō. Photograph taken on February 22, 2019. (© Jiji)

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22

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency announces that the Hayabusa2 space probe has successfully landed on the Ryūgū asteroid. It confirms that at the time of landing the probe fired a projectile to throw up asteroid samples for collection.

Project manager Tsuda Yūichi talks at JAXA’s Institute of Space and Astronautical Science in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, about an image taken immediately after Hayabusa2 landed on the Ryūgū asteroid on February 22, 2019. (© Jiji)
Project manager Tsuda Yūichi talks at JAXA’s Institute of Space and Astronautical Science in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, about an image taken immediately after Hayabusa2 landed on the Ryūgū asteroid on February 22, 2019. (© Jiji)

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24

A government-sponsored ceremony is held at the National Theater of Japan in Tokyo celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of Emperor Akihito’s accession to the throne.

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Renowned scholar of Japanese literature Donald Keene dies of heart failure at a Tokyo hospital at the age of 96. For activities including introducing the nation’s literature to a wider international audience, he was awarded the Order of Culture by the Japanese government in 2008.

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In an Okinawan prefectural referendum, more than 70% of voters state their opposition to the relocation of a US military base within the prefecture from Futenma in Ginowan to Henoko in Nago. As opponents represent more than a quarter of the total electorate, under local ordinance Governor Tamaki Denny will report the result to Prime Minister Abe and US President Donald Trump.

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27

The Japan Fair Trade Commission launches an investigation into Amazon Japan and other online retailers. It will look into whether these companies have been abusing their advantageous positions to impose unfavorable conditions on sellers and users.

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In an additional report, a special investigation panel again finds no systematic cover-up of irregularities in the monthly surveys published by the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare.

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(Originally published in Japanese. Banner photo: Ikee Rikako with her sixth gold medal at the Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, on August 24, 2018. © Jiji.)

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