Japan Timeline

Timeline for January 2024

Society

January’s major stories in Japan included an earthquake on New Year’s Day in Ishikawa Prefecture’s Noto Peninsula and the successful pinpoint landing of a Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency craft on the moon.

1

A 7.6-magnitude earthquake takes place in the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture, causing shaking of level 7 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale in the town of Shika. As of January 29, there were 238 confirmed fatalities within the prefecture.

A collapsed building in Wajima, Ishikawa Prefecture. Photograph taken on January 4, 2024. (© Reuters)
A collapsed building in Wajima, Ishikawa Prefecture. Photograph taken on January 4, 2024. (© Reuters)

2

An Airbus A350 passenger plane operated by Japan Airlines collides shortly after landing on a runway at Haneda Airport with a Japan Coast Guard De Havilland Canada Dash 8 preparing for takeoff. Both aircraft catch fire. All 379 passengers and crew members on the Japan Airlines plane survive, while 5 of the 6 crew members on the JCG plane are killed.

The Japan Airlines plane on fire at Haneda Airport. (© Reuters)
The Japan Airlines plane on fire at Haneda Airport on January 2. (© Reuters)

4

Shinoyama Kishin, known for his photograph of John Lennon and Ono Yōko on the cover of the album Double Fantasy, dies at the age of 83.

6

Inoue Naoya becomes the first Japanese boxer to be named Fighter of the Year by US magazine The Ring.

7

House of Representatives lawmaker Ikeda Yoshitaka is arrested by Tokyo prosecutors on suspicion of failing to report revenue, as part of investigations into the Liberal Democratic Party kickbacks scandal. He is indicted on January 26.

Miyazaki Hayao’s The Boy and the Heron wins the Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film.

8

Talent agency Yoshimoto Kōgyō announces that Matsumoto Hitoshi, a member of the comedy duo Downtown, will suspend his artistic activities to focus on a court battle against allegations of sexual assault.

9

It is announced that enka singer Yashiro Aki, known for songs like “Ame no bojō” (Yearning in the Rain) and “Funauta” (A Boatman’s Song), died on December 30, 2023, at the age of 73.

Yashiro Aki, pictured in 1980. (© Jiji)
Yashiro Aki, pictured in 1980. (© Jiji)

10

The government begins work on land reclamation at Ōura Bay, ahead of the planned move of the US Futenma Air Station to Henoko in Nago, Okinawa Prefecture. This comes just 13 days after the national government approved a design change by proxy in place of the prefectural government in Nago; the prefecture protests strongly against the start of work.

11

The Nikkei index rises above 35,000, reaching its highest level since February 1990, in a third successive day of gains.

An LDP political reform body holds its first meeting. Of the 38 members, around 70% are from factions, with 10 from the Abe faction and 2 from the Nikai faction, groups that are at the heart of the kickbacks scandal. On January 23, the body releases an interim report, recommending that the factions become policy groups.

14

Prime Minister Kishida Fumio visits the Noto Peninsula for the first time since the January 1 earthquake. He announces the doubling of reserve funds for the fiscal 2024 budget to ¥1 trillion.

17

Qudan Rie wins the Akutagawa Prize for Tōkyōto dōjōtō (Tokyo Metropolitan Sympathy Tower). The Naoki Prize is awarded to Kawasaki Akiko for Tomogui (Cannibalism) and Makime Manabu for Hachigatsu no Gosho guraundo (The Imperial Palace Baseball Field in August).

18

A 21-year-old man is sentenced to death for the murder of a couple in Kōfu, Yamanashi Prefecture, carried out when he was 19. This is the first death sentence for a crime committed at 18 or 19 since people of those ages had their status under the law changed to “specified juveniles,” who are treated differently from those aged 17 or younger.

Shii Kazuo steps down as chair of the Japanese Communist Party and is replaced by Tamura Tomoko, who becomes the party’s first female leader.

19

After indictments of each of their accountants related to the kickbacks scandal, the Abe, Nikai, and Kishida factions plan to dissolve.

20

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s SLIM lunar lander lands on the surface of the moon shortly after midnight, Japan time. Japan becomes the fifth country to achieve a successful soft landing of a spacecraft on the moon, after the Soviet Union, the United States, China, and India. On January 25, JAXA announces that the craft achieved a pinpoint landing, within 100 meters of its target. It also succeeded in taking pictures of the moon’s surface with its spectrographic camera, as well as of the SLIM craft itself, using the tiny rover LEV-2.

A model of the tiny rover LEV-2, which has a diameter of 8 centimeters and was developed together with Takara Tomy and others, on display at the JAXA facility in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture. (© Reuters)
A model of the tiny rover LEV-2, which has a diameter of 8 centimeters and was developed together with toymaker Takara Tomy and others, on display at the JAXA facility in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture. (© Reuters)

25

The Kyoto District Court sentences Aoba Shinji to death for the 2019 arson attack on Kyoto Animation that killed 36 people.

26

Tokyo police question a man thought to be Kirishima Satoshi, a member of the far-left East Asia Anti-Japan Armed Front militant group who has been wanted for almost 50 years due to his involvement in a series of bombings targeting Japanese companies in the 1970s. On January 29, the man dies in the hospital.

27

Oda Tokito wins the wheelchair men’s singles at the Australian Open for the first time, defeating British player Alfie Hewett.

Oda Tokito with the wheelchair men’s singles trophy after his victory at the Australian Open on January 27, 2024. (© Reuters)
Oda Tokito with the wheelchair men’s singles trophy after his victory at the Australian Open on January 27, 2024. (© Reuters)

29

Toyota Industries announces that it has found irregularities in its tests for passenger car diesel engines. Toyota suspends shipments of 10 of its models that contain the engines.

Toyota’s labor union calls for a record annual bonus, totaling the equivalent of 7.6 months of salary.

31

It is announced that China overtook Japan to become the world’s biggest vehicle exporter in 2023 at 4.9 million units. Japanese exports rose 16% year on year to 4.4 million.

(Originally published in Japanese. Banner photo: The yellow SLIM spacecraft on the surface of the moon in a photograph taken by the tiny rover LEV-2; the rover’s wheels are visible in the foreground. © Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Takara Tomy, Sony Group, Dōshisa University/via Reuters.)

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