Timeline for January 2023
North Korea fires a ballistic missile toward the Sea of Japan.
Emperor Naruhito, Empress Masako, and other imperial family members greet well-wishers in the first New Year event in front of members of the public for three years. Princess Aiko takes part for the first time.
Sales of new cars in Japan in 2022 fall 5.6% year on year to 4.2 million, as the ongoing global semiconductor shortage contributes to the lowest total since 1977.
Prime Minister Kishida Fumio sets off on a five-country tour taking in France, Italy, Britain, Canada, and the United States. He returns on January 15.
China stops issuing visas to Japanese travelers, apparently reacting to Japan’s tightening of entry restrictions for Chinese nationals. It resumes visas for Japanese citizens on January 29.
Fast Retailing, the operator of Uniqlo, announces that it will raise annual salaries of full-time workers by up to 40% from March. It aims to close the gap between its pay for overseas and Japanese employees.
In two-plus-two talks in Washington, involving the foreign and defense ministers of Japan and the United States, the two sides release a joint statement pledging “to deepen bilateral cooperation toward the effective employment of Japan’s counterstrike capabilities in close coordination with the United States.”
Takahashi Yukihiro, the drummer for Yellow Magic Orchestra, dies of aspiration pneumonia at the age of 70. Together with Hosono Haruomi and Sakamoto Ryūichi he founded the group in 1978, which was a pioneer in techno music, recording “Rydeen” and other hits.
Yamagami Tetsuya is formally indicted for the fatal shooting of former Prime Minister Abe Shinzō in July 2022. After psychiatric testing, he is seen as capable of being held criminally responsible.
Prime Minister Kishida meets with US President Joe Biden, and the two leaders agree to reaffirm their countries’ alliance.
Eisai applies to the Japanese government for approval of Lecanemab, its drug for treatment of Alzheimer’s. The drug has already received fast-track approval from the US Food and Drug Administration.
Remembrance events are held across Hyōgo Prefecture to mark 28 years since the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake of 1995.
The business lobby Keidanren tells its members that wage rises are companies’ social responsibility, due to soaring prices, ahead of this year’s shuntō spring labor-management wage negotiations.
Tokyo High Court dismisses the appeal against a decision handed down in Tokyo District Court that former Tokyo Electric Power Company Chairman Katsumata Tsunehisa and two other executives were not guilty of business negligence resulting in death or injury. The court ruled that they could have foreseen the tsunami that resulted in the accident at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.
The Akutagawa Prize is awarded to Idogawa Iko for Kono yo no yorokobi yo (The Joy of the World) and Satō Atsushi for Arechi no kazoku (Families in the Wasteland). The Naoki Prize goes to Ogawa Satoshi for Chizu to kobushi (The Map and the Fist) and Chihaya Akane for Shirogane no ha (Silver Leaf).
Japan posts a record trade deficit of ¥20.0 trillion in 2022, due to the combination of a weak yen, rising energy prices, and sluggish export growth.
The consumer price index for December rises by 4.0% year on year in its highest rise for 41 years.
Wheelchair tennis player Kunieda Shingo announces his retirement on his personal Twitter account. He achieved a Career Golden Slam by winning the four Grand Slam tournaments and the Paralympics competition, and was still at the top of the world rankings at the time of his retirement.
In his policy speech on the first day of the ordinary Diet session, Prime Minister Kishida says he wants to implement unprecedented measures to tackle the falling number of births in Japan. He also calls on companies to increase wages to meet rises in prices.
TEPCO applies to the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry to increase its household electricity rates by 29.3% from June 1. Government subsidies implemented to offset high rates would not fully cover such a hike.
Japan experiences its heaviest snow so far this winter, bringing road and rail traffic to a standstill in many parts of the country.
Toyota Motor Corp. announces that Satō Kōji (53) will succeed Toyoda Akio (66) as president, as of April 1; Toyoda will become chairman. The generational shift is the first change in president for Toyota for 14 years.
Prime Minister Kishida announces it will lower the classification of COVID-19 to category 5 from May 8, signaling a major change in government policy. There will no longer be restrictions, such as self-isolation, on the actions of those who are either infected or have been in close contact with someone infected.
Aoyama Shūko and Shibahara Ena are defeated in the final of the women’s doubles competition at the Australian Open tennis tournament.
Toyota maintains its position as the world’s top carmaker in 2022, ahead of Volkswagen, despite a year-on-year 0.1% decrease to a total of 10.5 million global car sales.
Nissan and Renault agree to maintain equal capital ties. Renault will reduce its stake in the Japanese company from 43.4% to 15% to match Nissan’s stake in the French company.
US free skier Kyle Smaine, a former halfpipe world champion, is among two people reported dead in an avalanche in Otari, Nagano Prefecture.
(Originally published in Japanese. Banner photo: Takahashi Yukihiro, at center, talks with the other members of Yellow Magic Orchestra in Gijón, Spain, in June 2008. © Reuters.)