US - Japan

Chronology from Jan 2012 to May 2012

: PM Noda and President Obama meet at the White House and issue a joint statement on the US-Japan alliance.

: Bank of Japan expands its asset purchase program from 65 trillion to 75 trillion yen.

: The Diet passes legislation scrapping a requirement that Japan’s postal and insurance businesses be fully privatized by 2017.

: Bilateral Security Consultative Committee (also known as the 2+2) issues a joint statement detailing an agreement on the relocation of US Marines from Okinawa to Guam.

: DPJ lawmaker Ozawa Ichiro is acquitted of charges he was involved in submitting false political funding reports.

: Senators Carl Levin (D-MI), John McCain (R-AZ), and Jim Webb (D-VA) send a letter to Defense Secretary Panetta expressing concerns about an imminent agreement between the United States and Japan on US force posture in the Asia-Pacific.

: Defense Secretary Panetta calls Defense Minister Tanaka to discuss the realignment of US forces in Okinawa and Guam.

: Upper House of the Diet passes censure motions against Defense Minister Tanaka for responding inadequately to the April 13 North Korean rocket launch and Transportation Minister Maeda Takeshi for endorsing a specific candidate in a local election.

: Assistant Secretary Campbell visits Tokyo to discuss North Korea and the realignment of US forces in Okinawa.

: North Korea launches a rocket that falls into the sea soon after liftoff.

: A Jiji Press poll posts a 21 percent approval rating for the Noda Cabinet.

: Secretary of State Clinton and Foreign Minister Gemba Koichiro meet in Washington to discuss a range of issues including the realignment of US forces in Japan, North Korea, Afghanistan, and TPP.

: The Lower House of the Diet passes the budget for fiscal year 2012.

: Defense Minister Tanaka and Defense Secretary Panetta agree in a phone call to coordinate closely in the event of a North Korean missile launch.

: Sixty percent of the public opposes an increase in the consumption tax according to a Mainichi Shimbun survey.

: USTR issues the National Trade Estimate Report and lists concerns about market access in Japan including nontariff barriers in the automobile market.

: Noda Cabinet approves draft legislation that would increase the consumption tax to 10 percent by 2015.

: US Energy Secretary Steven Chu visits Tokyo to meet Japanese officials and participate in a US-Japan-EU workshop on critical minerals.

: Okinawa Gov. Nakaima submits his response to an environmental impact statement on the relocation of MCAS Futenma submitted by the Ministry of Defense last December, identifying 404 items for further clarification from the central government.

: Secretary of State Clinton issues a statement announcing that financial institutions in Japan and 10 other countries would not be subject to US sanctions because of significant efforts to reduce oil imports from Iran.

: The US, Japan and the European Union file a joint complaint to the World Trade Organization criticizing China’s restrictions of rare earth mineral exports.

: One-year anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake.

: A survey released by the Cabinet Office finds 91 percent of the public with a favorable impression of the JSDF.

: US and Japanese officials meet in Washington to exchange views on the realignment of US forces in Okinawa.

: A $1.1 trillion draft budget for fiscal year 2012 passes the Lower House of the Diet and is forwarded to the Upper House.

: USTR Ron Kirk testifies before the Senate Finance Committee and states the US will address market access concerns with Japan regardless of whether it joins TPP.

: Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides visits Japan to address a US-Asia business summit and discuss a range of political and economic issues with Japanese officials.

: Assistant US Trade Representative Wendy Cutler discusses TPP at a US-Asia business summit in Tokyo.

: PM Noda visits Okinawa to discuss basing issues with Gov. Nakaima.

: US Special Representative Davies visits Japan to brief officials on his meetings with North Korean officials in Beijing.

: US and Japanese officials conclude a two-day consultation on Japan’s interest in joining TPP negotiations.

: Approximately 120 Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF) engineers arrive in South Sudan to participate in a United Nations peacekeeping mission.

: The Bank of Japan agrees to establish an inflation target of 1 percent and ease monetary policy by expansion of an asset purchase program from 55 trillion to 65 trillion yen.

: An Asahi Shimbun survey indicates a 27 percent approval rating and 49 percent disapproval rating for the Noda Cabinet.  Forty percent supported Noda’s proposal to increase the consumption tax and 46 percent opposed.  Twenty-nine percent favored a government led neither by the DPJ nor the LDP, 21 percent were for LDP rule, and 19 percent supported the DPJ.  Fifty-four percent of respondents expressed a hope that the “Osaka Ishin no Kai” (Osaka Restoration) political movement led by Osaka Governor Hashimoto Toru secures enough seats in the next general election to exert influence in the Diet.  Sixty-three percent of respondents did not affiliate with a political party and the approval ratings of the DPJ and LDP were 17 percent and 12 percent, respectively.

: US and Japan issue a joint statement announcing a decision to delink efforts to relocate MCAS Futenma from plans to transfer US Marines from Okinawa to Guam and review the 2006 roadmap for the realignment of US forces in Japan.

: US officials host counterparts from Japan for preliminary consultations on Japan’s interest in entering TPP negotiations.

: Noda Cabinet approves draft legislation to decommission nuclear reactors after 40 years and set up a new nuclear regulatory agency under the Environment Ministry.

: Opposition lawmakers criticize Defense Minister Tanaka for failing to answer questions about defense policy during separate budget committee hearings in the Lower House and Upper House of the Diet.

: Sixty-three percent of respondents to a Yomiuri Shimbun survey agree that a consumption tax increase is necessary for social security to be maintained, but only 16 percent agree with the government plan to increase the consumption tax to 10 percent by 2015.

: Defense Minister Tanaka and US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta discuss bilateral security issues including the relocation of MCAS Futenma during a telephone call.

: US Trade Representative Ron Kirk announces progress in bilateral consultations on economic issues under the rubric of the Economic Harmonization Initiative (EHI).

: LDP President Tanigaki Sadakazu calls for a snap election.

: Japan’s Finance Ministry announces the first trade deficit since 1980.

: Three DPJ lawmakers form a splinter group in the Lower House, the “New Party Daiichi-New Democrats.”

: PM Noda addresses the Diet and calls on opposition parties to cooperate on legislation and outlines a policy agenda including social security and tax reform, strengthening the US-Japan alliance and promoting regional diplomacy.

: Bank of Japan downgrades its growth forecast for the fiscal year ending March 2012, predicting a 0.4 percent contraction of the economy compared to 0.3 percent growth projected in October 2011.  The Bank projects 2.0 percent growth for fiscal year 2012.

: According to a survey by Mainichi Shimbun, 60 percent of the public opposes a planned increase in the consumption tax with only 37 percent in favor. But only 28 percent thought social security obligations could be met without increasing the consumption tax.  When asked what other reform measures should take precedence over the consumption tax increase, 35 percent said decreasing the number of Diet members, 32 percent said cutting Diet members’ salaries, and 20 percent suggested salaries of public servants should be targeted.

: Noda Cabinet elects to extend Japanese Self-Defense Force peacekeeping operations on the Golan Heights and Haiti for six months and one year, respectively.

: Defense Minister Tanaka meets Okinawa Gov. Nakaima Hirokazu in Tokyo to discuss basing issues in Okinawa.

: Edano Yukio, minister of economy, trade and industry, notes in a Wall Street Journal interview that all of Japan’s nuclear power plants could be shut down by summer.

: Assistant Secretary Campbell praises the efforts of the Noda government on issues such as regional security and TPP in an appearance at the Stimson Center in Washington.

: Robert Einhorn, State Department special advisor for nonproliferation and arms control, and Daniel Glaser, assistant secretary of the Treasury for terrorist financing, lead a delegation to Tokyo for discussions with Japanese counterparts on Iran.

: Assistant Secretary Campbell and Special Representative for North Korea Policy Glyn Davies co-host a US-Japan-ROK strategic dialogue in Washington.

: PM Noda suggests that he might dissolve the Diet for a general election if social security and tax reform bills do not clear the legislature in the current session.

: Yomiuri Shimbun survey posts a 37 percent approval rating for the Noda Cabinet and a disapproval rating of 51 percent.  Thirty-nine percent of respondents support a proposed increase in the consumption tax to 10 percent by 2015, with 55 percent opposed.

: A poll released by Asahi Shimbun reveals a 29 percent approval rating and 47 percent disapproval rating for the Noda cabinet.  Thirty-four percent of the public supports the proposed consumption tax increase and 57 percent disapproves.

: Defense Minister Tanaka Naoki suggests during an appearance on a television program that construction of the Futenma Replacement Facility (FRF) on Okinawa could commence this year.

: PM Noda reshuffles his cabinet, installing Okada Katsuya as deputy prime minister and appointing Tanaka Naoki as defense minister.

: US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner visits Tokyo and meets PM Noda, Finance Minister Azumi Jun, and Bank of Japan Governor Shirakawa Masaaki.

: Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell visits Tokyo for consultations on North Korea, Burma, coordination in multilateral fora such as the East Asia Summit, and bilateral issues including the Hague Convention on Child Abduction and the relocation of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.

: Obama administration releases a new strategic guidance for the Department of Defense emphasizing the centrality of the Asia-Pacific region to US defense strategy.

: Prime Minister (PM) Noda Yoshihiko holds a New Year press conference and identifies reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake, the ongoing response to the Fukushima nuclear accident, revitalization of the economy including trade liberalization, and social security and tax reform as priorities for his government.

: Nine disgruntled Lower House members of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) establish the Kizuna Party to oppose an increase in the consumption tax, Japan’s participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations, and nuclear power.

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