US - Japan
Chronology from Oct 2008 to Dec 2008
: A Nikkei poll lists Prime Minister Aso’s approval rating at 21 percent with a disapproval rating of 73 percent.
: Prime Minister Aso instructs the Ministry of Defense to explore ways to dispatch SDF forces for anti-piracy missions off the coast of Somalia, though Defense Minister Hamada questions the feasibility of the plan in a press conference the same day.
: LDP lawmaker Watanabe Yoshimi, a former minister for administrative reform, votes in favor of a resolution supported by the DPJ calling for an immediate dissolution of the Lower House followed by a general election. The resolution fails but Watanabe receives a reprimand from LDP leadership.
: The Aso Cabinet approves the draft budget proposal for fiscal 2009.
: The Aso Cabinet approves a mid-term tax reform plan including a call for an increase in the consumption tax in fiscal year 2011.
: Japan’s Ministry of Finance releases a draft budget for fiscal year 2009 suggesting a spending increase of 6.6 percent and a total budget of $990.9 billion, the biggest draft figure ever. Defense spending and official development assistance are cut 0.1 percent and 4 percent, respectively.
: Japan government forecasts zero growth for the fiscal year ending March 2010.
: The Bank of Japan reduces the overnight call rate to 0.1 percent.
: A survey by Jiji Press reveals a 16 percent approval rating for the Aso Cabinet and a disapproval rating of 65 percent.
: A survey by Yomiuri Shimbun and Waseda University finds that voters are more disappointed with the performance of the LDP than the DPJ by a margin of 69 percent to 48 percent. Fifty-five percent of respondents had expectations for the DPJ going forward, compared to only 42 percent for the LDP.
: A Yomiuri Shimbun and Gallup poll on U.S.-Japan relations finds that 34 percent of Japanese consider U.S.-Japan relations good, the lowest percentage since 2000.
: Prime Minister Aso praises Japan’s five-year noncombat mission in Iraq after the last C-130 aircraft used in airlift operations departed Kuwait.
: The U.S. Air Force announces plans to deploy two contingents of F-22 stealth jet fighters for approximately three months to Japan beginning in January 2009.
: The Diet approves a one-year extension of the SDF refueling mission in the Indian Ocean.
: Japan’s ASDF completes its last airlift mission to Iraq.
: Prime Minister Aso announces a second economic stimulus package totaling $110 billion.
: The Diet approves a bill allowing the government to inject up to $22 billion into the nation’s banks.
: The latest round of the Six-Party Talks ends without an agreement on a verification protocol for North Korean denuclearization.
: An MSDF officer found guilty of leaking intelligence related to the Aegis ballistic missile defense system is dismissed from the force.
: A new round of the Six-Party Talks begins in Beijing.
: A Yomiuri Shimbun poll shows an approval rating of 21 percent for Prime Minister Aso, with a disapproval rating of 67 percent. Ozawa also proves more popular than Aso for the first time, with 36 percent saying Ozawa would be preferable as prime minister compared to 29 percent for Aso.
: A poll released by the Cabinet Office shows that a record-high 28 percent of the Japanese public thinks relations with the U.S. are not good, compared to a record-low 69 percent who said bilateral ties were good.
: Hill and Saiki are joined by ROK Special Representative Kim Sook for trilateral consultations in Tokyo.
: Christopher Hill and Saiki Akitaka meet in Tokyo to prepare for a new round of the Six-Party Talks.
: In an interview with the Financial Times, Minister for Economic Policy Yosano Kaoru argues against increased government spending to stimulate the economy, citing a lack of worthy targets for funding.
: PM Aso and opposition leader Ozawa square off in a heated debate in the Diet. Aso argues against an election given the urgent need to minimize the adverse effects of the global economic slowdown, while Ozawa claims that the people should have a chance to decide which party is best positioned to revive the economy.
: A Reuters survey finds that 60 percent of individual investors want the DPJ to win the next election.
: PM Aso orders an extension of the Diet session to Dec. 25 and announces that a second supplementary budget would not be submitted before the new Diet session in January.
: President Bush and Prime Minister Aso meet on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum to discuss various issues including the financial crisis, North Korea, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The two leaders also hold a joint meeting with President Lee Myung-Bak of South Korea to discuss the Six-Party Talks and the global economy.
: The U.S. Missile Defense Agency announces the failure of the Japanese destroyer Chokai to shoot down a target during a Nov. 18 test of the sea-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system near Hawaii.
: The opposition parties begin a boycott of Upper House deliberations, preventing a vote on a bill to extend an SDF refueling mission in the Indian Ocean.
: The Japanese economy officially slips into recession after two consecutive quarters of negative growth.
: PM Aso and opposition leader Ozawa Ichiro meet behind closed doors. Ozawa threatens to boycott Diet deliberations and demands that Aso either submit a second supplementary budget or call an election.
: Prime Minister Aso pledges $100 billion to the IMF for developing economies during the G20 summit in Washington.
: Prime Minister Aso describes the essay by retired Gen. Tamogami as “extremely inappropriate.”
: The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington is featured in a week-long joint drill with MSDF off the coast of Okinawa.
: Retired Gen. Tamogami refuses to apologize for publishing a revisionist essay on World War II and argues in favor of revising Japan’s pacifist Constitution during an appearance at a hearing in the Upper House of the Diet.
: The U.S. expresses regret over an unannounced Nov. 10 visit by the nuclear-powered submarine USS Providence to a base in Okinawa.
: A poll by Kyodo reveals that the public prefers the DPJ over the LDP by a margin of 43 percent to 36 percent.
: Prime Minister Aso and President-elect Obama agree in a telephone conversation on the importance of strengthening bilateral ties.
: Prime Minister Aso issues a statement congratulating Barack Obama on his election as president.
: Prime Minister Aso states he has no plans to push for a reinterpretation of the Constitution to allow Japan to exercise the right of collective self-defense.
: Gen. Tamogami retires from the Self-Defense Forces.
: A Yomiuri Shimbun poll reveals a 40 percent approval rating for PM Aso and a disapproval rating of 41 percent.
: The Bank of Japan reduces the overnight call rate to 0.3 percent.
: Defense Minister Hamada Yasukazu announces that the chief of staff of the Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF), Gen. Tamogami Toshio, will be dismissed for penning an essay denying that Japan was an aggressor during World War II.
: Prime Minister Aso announces his decision to postpone a Lower House election until 2009, citing the urgent need to tackle the financial crisis.
: The government of Japan unveils a second economic stimulus package totaling $275 billion, including $20 billion in payments to households.
: Nikkei Shimbun reports that an internal survey conducted by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) forecasts a loss if a general election were held in the near term.
: Prime Minister Aso expresses caution regarding the dispatch of SDF forces to Afghanistan during a committee session in the Upper House of the Diet.
: Christopher Hill and Saiki Akitaka meet in Washington to discuss the Six-Party Talks, their first meeting since the U.S. announced its decision to delist North Korea from the State Sponsors of Terrorism List.
: The Yokohama District Court sentences a Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) officer to two and a half years in prison for leaking data related to the Aegis defense system back in 2002, though the sentence was suspended for four years.
: The Nikkei average falls 6 percent to the lowest level since 1982.
: The G7 releases a statement expressing concern about the appreciation of the yen.
: Prime Minister Aso hosts a summit with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh covering regional security cooperation, steps toward an economic partnership agreement, and the peaceful use of nuclear power.
: The Lower House of the Diet extends for one year a bill authorizing Indian Ocean refueling missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
: President Bush and Prime Minister Aso hold a teleconference regarding plans for an emergency summit on the global financial crisis.
: Japan is elected to a nonpermanent seat on the UN Security Council for a two-year term beginning in January 2009.
: Prime Minister Aso states during a budget committee debate in the Upper House of the Diet that the U.S. plan to invest $250 billion in banks is insufficient and that the U.S. government should do more to bail out ailing financial institutions.
: Japan’s Nikkei 225 index falls 11.41 percent, the second-largest single-day drop on record.
: Ambassador to Japan Thomas Schieffer meets families of Japanese abductees to explain the U.S. decision to remove North Korea from the State Sponsors of Terrorism List.
: PM Aso announces that Japan will not provide economic aid to North Korea absent progress in a dispute over the fate of Japanese abductees.
: Japan announces measures to stabilize the stock market, including a decision to suspend the sale of almost 2 trillion yen ($19.8 billion) in government-held shares.
: Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Sasae Kenichiro and Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns participate in the first-ever U.S.-Japan-ROK vice-ministerial consultations held in Washington.
: Speaking with reporters, PM Aso states that the U.S. decision to delist North Korea from the State Sponsors of Terrorism List does not mean a loss of leverage for Japan in resolving the dispute over abductees, and describes the decision as a diplomatic tactic to advance the Six-Party Talks.
: The U.S. announces its decision to rescind the designation of North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism. President Bush calls Prime Minister Aso to explain the decision.
: The Nikkei 225 index posts its third largest single-day decline and falls for the seventh day in a row.
: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Foreign Minister Nakasone Hirofumi hold a teleconference to discuss the Six-Party Talks.
: Japan’s Nikkei 225 index falls 9.4 percent – the third biggest drop in percentage terms and the largest one-day decline since October 1987 – amid concerns about the extent of the global financial crisis.
: The Lower House of the Diet passes a 1.8 trillion yen ($18 billion) supplementary budget as part of an economic stimulus package.
: Japan declines to participate in a coordinated reduction of interest rates among the world’s major central banks.
: A survey by Asahi Shimbun shows Prime Minister Aso’s approval rating at 41 percent, a seven-point drop over the two-week period since he assumed the post.
: The Bank of Japan injects 800 billion yen ($7.6 billion) into the international financial system to prevent a global credit crunch from increasing interest rates.
: Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Christopher Hill meets Saiki Akitaka, director general for Asian and Oceanian Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in Seoul to discuss Hill’s visit to Pyongyang for discussions concerning a verification protocol for North Korean denuclearization under the Six-Party Talks.
: The Government of Japan announces a decision to dispatch two Self-Defense Force (SDF) officers to the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) in Khartoum.