Timeline for April 2023
Musician Sakamoto Ryūichi’s management company announces that he died on March 28 at the age of 71. Sakamoto was a member of Yellow Magic Orchestra, and also had a successful solo career, winning both an Academy Award and a Grammy for his score for The Last Emperor. He appeared as an actor in Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence.
Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa meets with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang during a visit to China and urges him to quickly release a Japanese employee of Astellas Pharma detained on suspicion of spying in March.
The government decides to create a new system of “official security assistance” to provide defense equipment to countries that share its diplomatic objectives and help strengthen their deterrence capabilities.
A Ground Self-Defense Force helicopter goes missing near the island of Miyakojima in Okinawa with 10 members of the 8th Division on board, including its commander Sakamoto Yūichi. Sakamoto is among those confirmed dead when wreckage is later discovered by a Maritime SDF minesweeper.
Toyota announces that it will launch 10 EV models by 2026, targeting annual worldwide sales of 1.5 million vehicles.
In the first round of unified local elections, Osaka Ishin no Kai candidates are reelected as governor of Osaka Prefecture and mayor of the city of Osaka. Prefectural assembly elections see record low voter turnout in 30 of 41 prefectures.
As new leaders assume their duties at the Bank of Japan, Governor Ueda Kazuo says at a press conference that he will maintain the ultraloose monetary policy.
A government panel of experts produces a draft interim report calling for the abolition of the Technical Intern Training Program for foreign nationals and the creation of a new system for securing and training foreign workers.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications announces that the total population of Japan was 124,947,000 as of October 1, 2022, down 556,000 from the previous year. This was the twelfth consecutive annual decrease, with declines in population in 46 of 47 prefectures, and an increase in Tokyo only.
Following a missile launch by North Korea, the government sends a warning via its J-Alert early warning system before withdrawing it some 20 minutes later. The Ministry of Defense states that any missiles appear to have landed outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
A groundbreaking ceremony is held to mark the start of construction of the main venue for Osaka Expo 2025 on the artificial island of Yumeshima in Osaka. Prime Minister Kishida attends the ceremony and announces the issuing of a commemorative coin.
The government approves a plan by Osaka Prefecture and the city of Osaka to open an integrated resort including a casino. Under the plan, Japan’s first casino resort is scheduled to open in 2029 on Yumeshima.
Prime Minister Kishida is uninjured after an explosive device is thrown at him before a by-election campaign speech at a fishing port in Wakayama, Wakayama Prefecture. A police officer and a spectator suffer minor injuries. Police arrest Kimura Ryūji, a 24-year-old from Hyōgo Prefecture.
At the G7 Ministers’ Meeting on Climate, Energy, and Environment, held from April 15 in Sapporo, attendees make a joint statement including pledges to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by 60% by 2035, compared with 2019 levels.
Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry Nishimura Yasutoshi orders five regional electric companies, including Kansai Electric and Kyūshū Electric, to improve their business operations after they illegally access customer information from new entrants into the electricity market.
G7 foreign ministers meeting in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture, from April 16 call in a joint statement for the immediate withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukraine and express their strong opposition to unilateral attempts by China to change the status quo in the East and South China Seas by force or coercion.
After the outbreak of fighting between the national military and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces in Sudan, an Air SDF transport is sent to Djibouti to prepare to evacuate Japanese citizens. On April 25, Prime Minister Kishida announces that all Japanese nationals wishing to evacuate from the Sudanese capital of Khartoum were able to do so. On April 29, a charter flight from Djibouti lands at Haneda Airport carrying 48 Japanese citizens and their family members who evacuated from Sudan.
A specialist subcommittee of the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare approves the manufacture and sale of an abortion pill for the first time. The pill can be used within the first nine weeks of pregnancy.
In a second round of local elections, the Liberal Democratic Party wins four of five by-elections for seats in the Houses of Representatives and Councillors. Meanwhile, Nippon Ishin no Kai achieves its goal of increasing its number of regional assembly members above 600.
The National Institute of Population and Social Security Research publishes an estimate that Japan’s population will fall from 126.2 million in 2020 to below 100 million in 2056 and to 87 million in 2070.
A specialist panel of the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare formally approves a plan to downgrade COVID-19 to category 5 under Japanese legislation, or the same level as seasonal influenza, on May 8.
Prime Minister Kishida departs for a weeklong tour in which he will visit Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, and Mozambique. On April 30, he meets with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Cairo.
(Originally published in Japanese. Banner photo: Sakamoto Ryūichi, at right, is congratulated by author Murakami Ryū in Tokyo on December 21, 2016, after receiving the Montblanc de la Culture Arts Patronage Award for support of young talent. © Jiji.)