US - Japan

Chronology from Apr 2008 to Jul 2008

: The Japanese government announces a decision to dispatch SDF personnel to Sudan as early as September to participate in UN peacekeeping operations.

: The Fukuda Cabinet’s approval rating rises to 26 percent with a disapproval rating of 63 percent, according to a poll by Nikkei Shimbun.

: Foreign Minister Komura and U.S. Secretary of State Rice meet in Kyoto to discuss the way forward in the Six-Party Talks.

: North Korea submits a declaration concerning plutonium production pursuant to an October 2007 agreement in the Six-Party Talks.

: President Bush announces U.S. steps to remove North Korea from a list of state sponsors of terrorism and remove some sanctions in response to North Korea’s submission of the nuclear declaration.

: DPJ President Ozawa holds a press conference in Naha, Okinawa, and criticizes the U.S. actions on North Korea and the ruling LDP.

: G8 foreign ministers convene in Kyoto, Japan, and issue separate joint statements on Zimbabwe and Afghanistan.

: President Bush telephones PM Fukuda to discuss Six-Party Talks and the abductee issue.

: A government panel on national security submits to PM Fukuda a report recommending that the government reinterpret Article 9 of the constitution to allow Japan’s self defense forces to exercise the right of collective self defense.

: PM Fukuda says he welcomes the U.S. intention to take steps toward removing North Korea from the state sponsors of terrorism list if that will resolve the nuclear issue but also stresses the importance of the U.S. and Japan coordinating closely to resolve the abduction issue.

: PM Fukuda states that an increase in the consumption tax is unlikely in the near term.

: At a ceremony marking the 63rd anniversary of the Battle of Okinawa, PM Fukuda pledges to reduce the burden of the U.S. troop presence on the residents of the island.

: Christopher Hill confers in Tokyo with his Japanese counterpart Saiki Akitaka, director general of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and South Korean chief nuclear negotiator Kim Sook regarding the Six-Party Talks.

: PM Fukuda states that an agreement at the G8 Summit regarding a medium-term greenhouse gas emissions target is unlikely.  He also hints at an increase in the consumption tax.

: Mainichi Shimbun poll shows public considers Fukuda a more favorable prime minister than Ozawa by 19 to 15 percent, while 57 percent says neither figure is favorable.  When asked which party should win the next Lower House election, 46 percent supports the DPJ and 25 percent the LDP.

: A poll released by Asahi Shimbun shows a 23 percent approval rating for the Fukuda Cabinet and a disapproval rating of 59 percent.

: An earthquake measuring 7.2 on the Richter scale inflicts heavy damage in Iwate and Miyagi Prefectures in northern Japan, leaving nine dead, eight missing and about 300 injured.

: Chief Cabinet Secretary Machimura Nobutaka announces that North Korea agreed to reopen an investigation into past abductions of Japanese citizens, and that Japan in turn agreed to a partial lifting of sanctions imposed after North Korea’s nuclear test of 2006.

: A poll by Kyodo News shows a 25 percent approval rating for Fukuda Cabinet.

: Japanese Minister of Finance Nukaga and U.S. Secretary of Treasury Paulson meet in Osaka and agree to deal with the inflation caused by escalating food and oil prices.

: Alexander Arvizu, deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, testifies on U.S.-Japan relations before the Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

: PM Fukuda wins a confidence vote in the Lower House of the Diet.

: PM Fukuda meets with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in Tokyo and the two governments issue a joint statement highlighting the security, strategic, and economic partnership between the two countries.

: The government of Japan announces a plan to improve the health care system for the elderly and PM Fukuda apologies to senior citizens for the confusion surrounding the new rules instituted on April 1.

: The Upper House passes a censure motion against PM Fukuda, the first against a prime minister in postwar Japan.

: Bilateral talks between Japan and DPRK are held in Beijing under the rubric of the Six-Party Talks.

: PM Fukuda announces initiative on climate change including emissions trading on a trial basis beginning fall 2008 and a pledge to cut Japan’s greenhouse gas emissions 60-80 percent by 2050.

: U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns and Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Sasae Kenichiro participate in a U.S.-Japan Strategic Dialogue in Tokyo.  The two also participate in a U.S.-Japan-Australia Strategic Dialogue.

: During a press conference, PM Fukuda dismisses calls for a snap election and vows to continue working on pressing policy issues.

: The LDP loses its majority in elections for the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly.

: The U.S. Navy in Japan distributes the comic book “CVN 73”, produced to allay public concerns about the impending arrival of the USS George Washington, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.

: A team of Japanese government officials departs for Afghanistan to explore the possibility of dispatching SDF troops.

: The Upper House approves a bill to abolish by March 2009 the national health insurance system covering elderly 75 and over.

: In an address to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization in Rome, PM Fukuda announces Japan’s decision to release 300,000 tons of surplus rice.

: PM Fukuda states that the dispatch of Ground Self-Defense Forces (GSDF) to Afghanistan is under consideration.

: PM Fukuda departs for Europe for consultations with leaders of Germany, the UK, Italy and France.

: In an interview in the Financial Times, Ozawa Ichiro, head of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), expresses confidence in his party’s ability to unseat the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and create a two-party system.

: U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, in an address at the Shangri-La dialogue in Singapore, states that the U.S. is a Pacific nation with an enduring role in Asia and that U.S. alliance relationships are the foundation of the U.S. security presence in the region.

: Defense Minister Ishiba Shigeru, in an address at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, reaffirms the importance of the U.S.-Japan alliance and lists issues Japanese parliamentarians should address in any future deliberations over a permanent law for the dispatch of the Self-Defense Forces and Japan’s right to exercise collective self-defense.

: The Japanese government defers a decision on the dispatch of Self-Defense Forces to China and announces that civilian aircraft will be used to transport aid supplies for earthquake relief.

: A Japanese medical team is dispatched to Burma to assist with cyclone relief efforts.

: The USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier, stationed in Japan for nearly 10 years, departs Yokosuka to be decommissioned.

: PM Fukuda hosts the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development and pledges to double Japan’s ODA to Africa by 2012; provide $4 billion in loans for infrastructure development; and offer $2.5 billion in support for an African investment facility managed by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation.

: A poll by Nikkei Shimbun shows a 24 percent approval rating for the Fukuda Cabinet.

: U.S. and Japanese officials meet in Washington and agree to the release of surplus rice imported from the U.S.

: The Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy, an advisory panel, recommends an overhaul of the Government Pension Investment Fund to improve transparency and investment returns.

: In an interview published by Asahi Shimbun, Richard Lawless, former deputy under secretary of defense for Asia-Pacific affairs, expresses concern about drift in the U.S.-Japan alliance on the implementation of agreements concerning the relocation of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma on Okinawa and the transfer of U.S. Marines to Guam.

: The Basic Law for Space Activities passes through the Upper House and becomes law.

: In a speech to the Foreign Press Club in Tokyo, U.S. Ambassador to Japan Thomas Schieffer calls on Japan to increase defense spending.

: The U.S. Department of Agriculture announces a proposed rule to ban all non-ambulatory cattle from slaughter.

: Fukuda Cabinet’s approval rating drops to 19 percent with a disapproval rating of 65 percent, according to a poll by Asahi Shimbun.  Another poll issued by Yomiuri Shimbun indicates an approval rating of 26 percent.

: The Japanese government announces that the Philippines requested the release of 200,000 tons of Japan’s imported rice.

: A U.S. military court sentences a U.S. Marine to at least three years in prison for sexually abusing a 14-year-old Japanese girl, in a case that triggered mass protests in Okinawa.

: Japan’s Diet passes a bill that permits military use of outer space for defensive purposes.

: President Hu Jintao and PM Fukuda conclude the first Sino-Japanese summit in Japan in 10 years and issue a joint statement promoting a “mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests.”

: A poll released by Asahi Shimbun shows that 66 percent of the Japanese public opposes the revision of Article 9 of the constitution, while 23 percent support it.

: The Japanese government releases a report stating that children’s share of the general population was 13.5 percent, the lowest ever recorded.

: A group representing Japanese abductees meets with Christopher Hill in Washington to urge the U.S. not to delist North Korea until the abduction issue is resolved.

: The Fukuda Cabinet’s approval is 18 percent according to a Mainichi Shimbun poll.

: The Japanese government restores a gasoline tax of 25 yen per liter one month after previous legislation authorizing the tax had expired.

: The U.S. Navy announces it will conduct background checks for the 20,000 U.S. Navy personnel stationed in Japan.

: Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) wins Lower House by-election in Yamaguchi Prefecture.

: New arrangement for host nation support is ruled out in an Upper House plenary session.

: U. S. government reveals North Korea’s support for Syrian construction of a nuclear reactor.

: Japanese government announces that backbone, which is one of the banned specified-risk materials (SRMs) said to increase the risk of BSE, or mad cow disease, was found in a beef shipment from the U.S.

: The Japanese government states in an annual report on the labor force that the working population will decrease by more than one-third by 2050, citing as causes a declining birth rate, an aging population, and a failure to increase the participation of women and the elderly in the work place.

: Prime Minister Fukuda Yasuo and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak hold a summit in Tokyo and agree to cooperate together with the U.S. on the North Korean nuclear issue, resume discussions on a bilateral Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), and hold a trilateral meeting with China within this year.

: A poll by Asahi Shimbun shows a 25 percent approval rating for the Fukuda Cabinet.

: The Nagoya High Court rules that the dispatch of the Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF) to Iraq includes activities that violate Article 9 of the Constitution.

: The Japanese government extends for six months economic sanctions first imposed on North Korea after it tested a nuclear weapon in 2006, citing the North’s failure to produce a complete declaration of its nuclear programs and make progress on the abduction issue.

: Christopher Hill meets with his Japanese counterpart, Saiki Akitaka, in Beijing to explain the results of the April 8 meeting in Singapore.

: Masaaki Shirakawa is appointed governor of the Bank of Japan after opposition parties rejected two other candidates put forth by the government.

: Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Yabunaka Mitoji meets Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England, and other U.S. officials to discuss Tibet.

: A Yomiuri Shimbun poll reveals that 43.1 percent of the Japanese public is against revising the constitution, with 42.5 percent in favor.

: U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill meets North Korean counterpart Kim Kye Gwan in Singapore to discuss the elements of an overdue declaration of the North’s nuclear programs under the rubric of the Six-Party Talks.

: The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reports that Japan ranks fifth in official development assistance.

: The Lower House of the Diet passes a new bill covering host nation support for U.S. forces in Japan.

: The leaders of Japan’s three opposition parties meet separately with Chief Cabinet Secretary Machimura and Foreign Minister Komura to demand a revision of the Status of Forces Agreement with the United States.

: U.S. Ambassador to Japan Thomas Schieffer and Rear Adm. James Kelly, commander of U.S. Naval Forces, Japan, apologize to the mayor of Yokosuka for a March 2008 incident in which a taxi driver was allegedly murdered by a U.S. serviceman.  The suspect is arrested later in the day.

: A BBC World Service poll, which surveyed over 17,000 people in 34 countries, indicates Japan is the second most positively viewed country behind Germany.

:   The U.S. Navy in Japan decides to impose a nighttime curfew in response to the alleged murder of a taxi driver by a U.S. sailor on March 19.

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