US - Japan

Chronology from Oct 2007 to Dec 2007

: The Fukuda government abandons a plan initiated by former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to create a U.S.-style National Security Council.

: The U.S. Missile Defense Agency and Japan’s MSDF announce successful intercept flight test of a joint Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) near Hawaii.  This is the first time a U.S ally ship successfully destroyed a ballistic missile target using the sea-based midcourse engagement capability provided by Aegis BMD.

: Yomiuri Shimbun reports the Ministry of Defense has decided to abandon the planned introduction of its next mainstay fighter aircraft (F-X) during the current midterm defense buildup plan, for fiscal years 2005-2009, because the U.S. will not allow the export of F-22 stealth fighters.

: A Kyodo News poll shows a decline in the approval rating for PM Fukuda’s Cabinet to 35 percent, due in large part to the government’s failure to fully resolve a scandal over lost pension records.

: The Diet approves a ruling coalition proposal to extend the extraordinary session through Jan. 15 to pass a new bill that would allow refueling operations in the Indian Ocean to resume.

: The UN Conference on Climate Change in Bali concludes with an agreement on a new framework, the “Bali roadmap,” to address the issue.  The U.S. succeeded in excluding specific targets for emissions reductions with support from Japan and Canada.

: Police arrest MSDF Lt. Cmdr. Matsuuchi Sumitaka for allegedly leaking classified data on the Aegis radar system.

: The U.S. and Japan successfully conclude negotiations for a new three-year Special Measures Agreement detailing Japan’s contributions to costs associated with stationing U.S. forces in Japan.

: A survey conducted by the Yomiuri Shimbun and Gallup Inc. reveals that 76 percent of U.S. respondents (combining those who agree “somewhat” and “largely”) think the U.S. should not remove North Korea from the State Sponsors of Terrorism List before the abduction issue is resolved.

: U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Christopher Hill meets with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director-General for Asian and Oceania Affairs Sasae Kenichiro in Japan to discuss Hill’s Dec. 4 visit to Pyongyang.

: Kyodo News reports that Japan will consider easing restrictions on U.S. beef imports.

: The U.S.-Japan Sub-Cabinet Economic Dialogue is held in Tokyo.

: A Japanese parliamentary committee, the Lower House Special Committee on the Abductions Problem, adopts a resolution urging Washington to keep North Korea on the State Sponsors of Terrorism List.

: Senior officials from Japan, Australia, and the U.S. meet in Canberra to discuss regional security issues.

: President Bush writes a letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong-il urging his government to fully disclose its nuclear programs. Bush also sends similar letters to the other nations involved in the six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear program, reiterating his desire to resolve the nuclear standoff.

: Prosecutors raid the Ministry of Defense in search of evidence related to the Moriya bribery scandal.

: The opposition-controlled Upper House of the Diet approves by a vote of 133 to 103 the DPJ-sponsored bill to halt the Air Self Defense Force’s mission in Iraq.

: Former Vice Defense Minister Moriya and his wife are arrested in connection with a bribery scandal.

: PM Fukuda visits Washington, his first overseas visit since assuming office, to meet with President Bush.  The two leaders cover various topics including the six-party talks, the issue of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan, trade, and climate change.

: The Lower House of the Diet approves a bill to resume refueling operations in the Indian Ocean in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

: PM Fukuda suggests during an interview with the Financial Times that a Lower House election could be postponed until after the July 2008 G-8 summit in Hokkaido.

: In a speech at Sophia University, Secretary Gates calls on Japan to maintain its global leadership role.

: U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates visits Japan to meet PM Fukuda, Defense Minister Ishiba Shigeru, and other senior officials.  Ishiba notes during a joint press conference that he and Gates discussed the importance of studying the deterrent effect of the U.S.-Japan alliance, including the nuclear umbrella.

: Former Yamada Corp. executive director Miyazaki is arrested.

: Ozawa announces his intention to step down as president of the DPJ after the party rejects the grand coalition proposal.  He recants two days later after party leaders beg him to stay on.

: PM Fukuda and DPJ leader Ozawa meet to discuss modalities for cooperation on the legislative agenda and reportedly discuss a ruling coalition.

: The Japanese government orders MSDF vessels stationed in the Indian Ocean to return home after the Special Measures Law sanctioning refueling operations as part of Operation Enduring Freedom expires.

: Ministry of Defense acknowledges that on two occasions the MSDF engaged in fueling operations in the Persian Gulf rather than the Indian Ocean but that the fuel was strictly for OEF missions.

: Former Vice Defense Minister Moriya testifies before the Diet as a sworn witness to explain his ties with Yamada Corp.

: A Kyodo News poll reveals that 42 percent of the public prefers a coalition government led by the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) while 40 percent prefers to stick with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP.)

: A Mainichi Shimbun poll shows that 66 percent of the Japanese public favors pressure over dialogue with respect to North Korea.

: Fox News reports that U.S. Ambassador to Japan Thomas Schieffer sent a cable to President Bush expressing concern that the relationship with Japan could be damaged if the U.S. removes North Korea from the State Sponsors of Terrorism List.

: The Diet begins deliberating a bill to extend the MSDF refueling mission in the Indian Ocean.

: Reports surface that Miyazaki Motonobu, a former executive director of defense contractor Yamada Corp., had damaged the company’s finances through fraudulent accounting, prompting a probe into his relationships with bureaucrats and politicians including former Vice Defense Minister Moriya Takemasa.

: Fukuda’s Cabinet adopts a new antiterrorism bill allowing the MSDF to continue its refueling activities in the Indian Ocean.  The government immediately submits the bill to the Lower House.

: An Asahi Shimbun poll shows the Japanese public to be divided over extending Japan’s refueling operations in the Indian Ocean in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, with 44 percent of respondents opposed and 39 percent in favor.

: Japanese and North Korean officials hold an informal meeting in China to advance the Japan-DPRK working group for normalization established in the Feb. 13 agreement of the Six-Party Talks.

: Japan hosts Pacific Shield 07, a three-day maritime exercise under the rubric of the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI).  Australia, Britain, France, New Zealand, Singapore and the U.S. participate.

: A Yomiuri Shimbun poll shows the approval rating for the Fukuda Cabinet at 59 percent with a disapproval rating of 26.7 percent.

: During a question and answer session in the Lower House of the Diet, PM Fukuda repeatedly rejects allegations – made in a report released Sept. 20 by the pacifist group Peace Depot – that some fuel provided for U.S. vessels by the Maritime Self-Defense Forces (MSDF) in 2003 was used for the war in Iraq.  This followed a U.S. Defense Department statement declaring the allegations “misplaced.”

: The Japanese government decides to extend sanctions against North Korea – first imposed after North Korea’s nuclear test in October 2006 – for another six months, stating that Pyongyang has yet to take concrete steps to disable its nuclear programs.

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