Timeline for March 2019
Okinawa Governor Tamaki Denny meets with Prime Minister Abe Shinzō in Tokyo to relay the result of the Okinawa referendum in which citizens rejected the planned relocation within the prefecture of the US military base at Futenma to the Henoko district of Nago. He urges an end to construction work and proposes holding three-way talks including the national US and Japanese governments and the prefectural administration. Abe indicates that he intends to move ahead with the current plan.
- Okinawans Oppose Government-Backed US Base Move in Nonbinding Referendum
- Okinawa Governor Presses Abe to Give Up Henoko Base Construction
A specialist panel at the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare grants broad approval to an Osaka University team to treat patients with damaged corneas by transplanting cells produced from induced pluripotent stem cells from other people. The team will carry out the first transplant as early as June.
Architect Isozaki Arata is named as the winner of the 2019 Pritzker Architecture Prize, known as the architectural equivalent of the Nobel Prize. He is the eighth Japanese winner of the prize and the first since 2014.
Former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn is released from the Tokyo Detention House after paying ¥1 billion in bail. He had been detained since his arrest on November 19 for allegedly understating his remuneration in violation of the Financial Instruments and Exchange Act.
The trial of Kagoike Yasunori, the former head of school operator Moritomo Gakuen, and his wife Junko begins at Osaka District Court. The two are charged with fraudulently obtaining subsidies from the central and local governments. A lawyer for Kagoike Yasunori says that not all of the subsidies were obtained illegally. Kagoike Junko pleads not guilty.
The Cabinet Office publishes its report on economic trends for January against a 2015 base of 100. A drop of 2.7 points from December brings the index to 97.9 in the third consecutive month of decline.
Osaka Governor Matsui Ichirō and Osaka Mayor Yoshimura Hirofumi resign before the expiry of their terms, setting the stage for polls during unified local elections in April. Matsui, the leader of Osaka Ishin no Kai, and Yoshimura, its policy chief, plan to run for what is currently the other man’s job to seek voter support for their plan to make Osaka a metropolis. On March 11, Konishi Tadakazu, a former deputy governor of the prefecture, announces his plan to run in the gubernatorial election with the backing of the Liberal Democratic Party.
- Osaka to Hold Double Elections over Metropolis Plan
- Ex-Osaka Deputy Governor to Run in Gubernatorial Election
Osaka police arrest two men on suspicion of illegally taking fertilized eggs and sperm of wagyū beef cattle to China. By avoiding quarantine, they violated the Act on Domestic Animal Infectious Diseases Control.
Ceremonies around the country mark the eighth anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake. Prince Akishino, Princess Kiko, Prime Minister Abe Shinzō, and family members of the victims attend an event at the National Theater in Tokyo
- Japan Marks Eighth Anniversary of March 2011 Disaster
- 47 Percent See March 2011 Disaster Reconstruction Slow
- Disaster-Hit Coastal Areas Remember Victims in Pouring Rain
The first of a series of ceremonies related to Emperor Akihito's abdication is held at the Imperial Palace. The emperor reports his plan to abdicate to the imperial ancestors and deities. The ceremony is attended by some 40 people, including Crown Prince Naruhito, Prince Akishino, and Princess Kiko.
Leaders of Nissan, Renault, and Mitsubishi hold a joint press conference at Nissan’s headquarters in Yokohama, where they announce they will set up a new board to discuss the three automakers' alliance strategy. The aim is to prevent too much power from concentrating in one person, as when Carlos Ghosn headed all three companies.
Musician and actor Pierre Taki is arrested for the alleged use of cocaine in violation of the Narcotics and Psychotropics Control Act.
A ruling coalition working team and a cross-party group of lawmakers agree on legislation to provide payments of ¥3.2 million per victim of forced sterilization under the former Eugenics Control Act, which targeted disabled people.
A third-party panel investigating defects at Leopalace21 apartment buildings publishes its interim report. It finds that the defects were caused by founder and former President Miyama Yūsuke’s direction to use foamed urethane in insulation instead of the glass wool specified in blueprints.
The Council for Cultural Affairs recommends three sets of cultural assets for designation as national treasures to Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology Shibayama Masahiko. They include murals from the Kitora burial mound in Nara Prefecture and a set of wooden sculptures from the temple Tōshōdaiji in the city of Nara. The council also recommends 41 sets of assets as important cultural properties.
Japanese Olympic Committee President Takeda Tsunekazu announces that he will step down at the end of his current term in June. Takeda is currently under investigation on suspicion of bribery connected to Tokyo's successful bid for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.
The government publishes its monthly economic report for March. It downgrades its headline assessment for the first time in three years, stating the economy is “recovering at a moderate pace while weakness is seen recently in exports and industrial production in some sectors.”
Baseball star Suzuki Ichirō announces his retirement, finishing his career with a combined 4,367 hits in Japan and the United States.
Gubernatorial electoral campaigns begin in 11 prefectures. A total of 30 people, including 5 women, file their candidacies for governor.
The Diet enacts the government's fiscal 2019 initial budget, in which general-account spending totals ¥101.5 trillion. The seventh consecutive record-high total for the year tops ¥100 trillion at the initial stage for the first time.
Kumamoto District court acquits Miyata Kōki of a 1985 murder for which he was convicted and spent 13 years in prison.
The Cabinet Office announces the results of its first survey on hikikomori, or social recluses, aged between 40 and 64. It estimates that there are 613,000 hikikomori in this age group nationwide, of which around 3 in 4 are men.
(Originally published in Japanese. Banner photo: Former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn after his release from the Tokyo Detention House on March 6, 2019. © Jiji.)