US - Japan

Chronology from Apr 2004 to Jul 2004

: Defence Agency head Ishiba and visiting U.S. Asst. Secretary of State James Kelly reaffirm commitment to ending North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

: During Japan-U.S. Strategic Dialogue Meeting, Vice FM Takeuchi Yukio and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage discuss Iraq, peace in the Middle East, North Korea, U.S.-Japan security arrangements, and UN reform.

: Speaking at a memorial service to commemorate the 59th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa, PM Koizumi pledges to reduce the burden of U.S. military bases on the people of Okinawa.

: Japan pledges to strengthen measures to stop human trafficking after a U.S. State Department report slams Japan’s efforts to combat the problem.

: Under Secretary of State John Bolton says he hopes Japan will reconsider a deal to develop the Iran’s Azadegan oil fields should the IAEA bring a case to the UN regarding Iran’s alleged nuclear arms ambitions.

: Seven bills designed to enhance last year’s war contingency legislation pass Upper House of the Japanese Diet to become law.

: Japan Times reports during last month’s talks between PM Koizumi and North Korean President Kim Jong-il, Kim told Koizumi he desperately wants to hold talks with the U.S.   Koizumi passed the message on to Bush at the G8 Summit.

: In a bilateral meeting with President Bush before the G8 Summit in Sea Island, Georgia, PM Koizumi pledges full support for U.S. in Iraq and to keep SDF troops in the country after the transfer to Iraqi power at the end of June.

: At Asia security conference in Singapore, Defense Minister Ishiba Shigeru assures neighbors that Japan’s U.S.-developed ballistic missile defense system will not lead to an Asian arms race.

: Japanese police arrest eighth foreigner suspected of having links to French al-Qaeda operative Lionel Dumont in a nationwide crackdown.

: Osamu Akiyama, director general of the Cabinet Legislation Bureau, tells Diet committee SDF can join a planned multinational force in Iraq as long as the purpose and mission do not involve the use of force.

: Two Japanese journalists killed in Iraq in an attack on their vehicle.

: Japan raids 10 locations around the country to search for alleged Al-Qaeda operatives connected with suspected French terrorist Lionel Dumont whose phone records indicate he called 13 individuals in Japan after leaving the country.

: State Department issues statement welcoming the results of PM Koizumi’s visit to North Korea.

: A package of seven security-related bills intended to strengthen war-contingency laws enacted last year passed the Lower House of the Japanese Diet. The bills include provisions for closer cooperation between the SDF and U.S. military.

: Two MSDF ships leave Japan for the Arabian Sea to support coalition operations in Afghanistan, primarily for refueling of warships in the region.

: Kyodo reports Japanese Court orders Japanese government to pay the U.S. share of the noise pollution compensation to Okinawa Prefecture after the U.S. government failed to pay its half.

: U.S. and Japan hold first round of technical meetings on resolving the dispute over BSE testing of U.S. beef and Japan’s import ban.

: Asahi Shimbun opinion poll indicates 73 percent of respondents favor maintaining the U.S.–Japan Security Treaty.

: Japanese troops resume full operations in Iraq after they were suspended by mortar attacks last month.

: Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan) leader Naoto Kan pledges greater SDF participation in Iraq as part of a UN-led multinational force during meeting with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in New York.

: Japan and the U.S. officials meet for first formal negotiations on Japanese ban of U.S. beef since January. They agree to establish a working group to discuss the issue with the aim of lifting the ban by summer.

: Japan decides to extend Maritime SDF non-combat naval support to operations in Afghanistan another six months until November.

: Japan rejects U.S. claim that testing all cattle is unnecessary to protect against BSE and says the import ban against U.S. beef will remain in place until blanket testing is instituted.

: Ashahi poll reveals 64 percent of respondents support the Japanese government’s handling of the hostage crisis and 73 percent support rejection of demands to withdraw SDF troops from Iraq.

: Second group of Japanese hostages released unharmed in Baghdad.

: Secretary of State Colin Powell commends released Japanese hostages for their willingness to take risks for the “greater good” and PM Koizumi for not bowing to terrorist demands.

: Three Japanese nationals in Iraq are released after a week held hostage.

: Two more Japanese nationals working in Iraq, a freelance journalist and a peace worker, are taken hostage.

: In a Tokyo speech, Cheney urges Japan to lift the ban against U.S. beef, in place since last Dec. 24.

: At a special lecture to honor the 150th anniversary of U.S. – Japan relations, VP Cheney characterizes the strategic relationship as far more than bilateral but a “global partnership” and one of the “great achievements in modern history.”

: In meetings with PM Koizumi, Cheney expresses appreciation for SDF reconstruction efforts and pledges U.S. assistance in resolving the kidnapping crisis.

: VP Richard Cheney arrives in Japan on the first leg of his Asian tour to Japan, South Korea, and China, his first visit to these countries since taking office.

: Families of three Japanese held hostage in Iraq urge Tokyo not to seek help from U.S. special forces to assist in the rescue.

: Poll shows 45.2 percent disagree with Tokyo’s rejection of the kidnapper’s demands to withdraw troops vs. 43.5 who supported the decision.  Support for the Koizumi Cabinet fell 3 percentage points from March to 48.4 percent; the disapproval rate is up 2.6 points to 39.3 percent.

: Three Japanese civilians are kidnapped in Iraq. The captors threaten to burn the Japanese alive if Japan does not withdraw troops from Iraq within three days.

: ASDF Chief of Staff Gen. Tsumagari Yoshimitsu acknowledges the ASDF has airlifted U.S. armed military and civilians from Kuwait to Iraq, the first time the ASDF admits to carrying soldiers in addition to supplies.

: Informal talks between high-level U.S., Japanese, and South Korean officials on North Korea open in San Francisco.

: Japanese Defense Agency announces suspension of GSDF Iraq activities outside Samawah camp given growing security concerns.

: NY Mets leadoff batter Matsui Kazuo starts season with a home run in the first official pitch of his major league career, going 3 for 3 in a 7-2 victory over the Braves.

: A letter from U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Veneman to Japan complicates the lifting of the Japanese ban on U.S. beef, as the proposal for voluntary BSE testing by U.S. meatpacking firms is rejected.

: U.S. and Japan celebrate 150th anniversary of Treaty of Kanagawa, the first treaty between the two nations.

:   U.S. and Japan reach agreement on SOFA revisions.  Those who can be handed over to Japanese police is expanded to suspects for any crime, although U.S. reserves the right to decide whether to comply, and during pre-handover questioning by Japanese police a U.S. official can be present.

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