Timeline for February 2023
Prime Minister Kishida Fumio expresses hesitation over the legalization of same-sex marriage, saying that it would change people’s views of the family and their values, as well as society. The comment comes during a meeting of the House of Representatives Budget Committee.
Prime Minister Kishida’s secretary Arai Masayoshi tells journalists at a press conference that he hates even seeing sexual minorities, and would hate to live next door to them. The statement was intended to be off the record. Later, he apologizes and withdraws the comment, but resigns on February 4.
Composer and arranger Takumi Masanori wins the Grammy Award for Best Global Music Album for Sakura.
Japanese athletes win a podium sweep at a women’s Ski Jumping World Cup event in Willingen, Germany. Itō Yūki is first, ahead of Maruyama Nozomi in second and Takanashi Sara in third.
Nissan and Renault reach a final agreement on maintaining 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.
Two of four Japanese suspects linked to a series of robberies across Japan are extradited from the Philippines and arrested. The remaining two are arrested on February 9. The four are also thought to be part of a fraud and theft gang responsible for losses of over ¥6 billion.
Tokyo prosecutors arrest Tokyo 2020 organizing committee executive Mori Yasuo and three other people on suspicion of violating the Antimonopoly Act. They are suspected of rigging bids for contracts worth ¥40 billion.
The government says that from March 13, it plans to leave it to individuals to decide whether to wear masks to protect against COVID-19. However, it recommends continuing to wear them at medical institutions and in crowded trains or buses.
Figures from the Ministry of Finance show that Japan’s outstanding general bonds stood at just over ¥1 quadrillion as of December 31, 2022. This is the first time that this figure has risen above this level.
Miura Riku and Mihara Ryūichi win the pairs event at the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships, becoming the first Japanese duo to do so.
Manga artist Matsumoto Leiji dies at the age of 85. He is known for epic SF works including Ginga tetsudō surī nain (Galaxy Express 999) and Uchū senkan Yamato (Space Battleship Yamato).
The government nominates economist Ueda Kazuo as the next governor of the Bank of Japan. He previously served on the bank’s policy board. In a February 24 statement to the House of Representatives, he says, “The BOJ fiscal policy is appropriate. Fiscal easing should continue, and we need to create an economic environment in which companies can raise pay.”
Toyoda Shōichirō, the honorary chairman of Toyota, dies at the age of 97. He was the eldest son of Toyota founder Toyoda Kiichirō. As president and chairman, he oversaw Toyota’s tise to become one of the world’s biggest automobile manufacturers, and also served as the chairman of Keidanren from 1994 to 1998.
Japan’s new H3 rocket fails to launch as scheduled. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency explains that a first-stage system detected an anomaly, so rocket boosters failed to ignite.
The Ministry of Defense reports that North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile at 5:21 in the afternoon, which is estimated to have landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone some 200 kilometers west of the island of Oshima-Oshima in Hokkaidō.
The popular Ueno Zoo giant panda Xiang Xiang leaves Japan via Narita Airport to return to China and find a breeding partner. Born at the zoo in June 2017, Xiang Xiang was its first naturally conceived panda, and contributed to improving Sino-Japanese relations.
Prime Minister hosts an online Group of Seven summit, having invited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to take part. He announces new sanctions from Japan, including a ban on the export of drones and other materials to Russia.
Prime Minister Kishida announces plans to purchase 400 US-made Tomahawk cruise missiles. The government has allocated ¥210 billion in the fiscal 2023 budget proposal, and aims to deploy the missiles in fiscal 2026.
The Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare publishes a preliminary report that finds there were 799,728 babies born in Japan in 2022, dropping below 800,000 for the first time. This is the seventh consecutive year to set a record low.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency selects new astronaut candidates for the first time since 2009: Suwa Makoto, a disaster management specialist at the World Bank, and Yoneda Ayu, a surgeon at the Japanese Red Cross Medical Center. Yoneda is set to be Japan’s third woman to go into space, and the two could become the first Japanese on the moon as part of a US-led program.
(Originally published in Japanese. Banner photo: Visitors to Ueno Zoo in Tokyo say goodbye to Xiang Xiang on February 19, 2023, before the panda returns to China. © Jiji.)