US - Japan

Chronology from May 2011 to Aug 2011

: President Obama issues a statement congratulating Noda on his election as prime minister.

: The Diet elects Noda as prime minister.

: Noda Yoshihiko is elected DPJ president, defeating Kaieda Banri in a runoff.

: PM Kan announces his resignation.

: The Diet passes legislation authorizing the issuance of bonds to fund the recovery from the March 11 disasters and also clears a renewable energy bill.

: Japan announces measures to stem the rise of the yen including the creation of a $100 billion credit facility to encourage overseas investment.

:   Moody’s Investors Service downgrades Japan’s sovereign debt rating to Aa3, citing high government debt, weak growth and political uncertainty.

: Vice President Joseph Biden meets PM Kan in Tokyo and visits the city of Sendai to offer support to survivors of the March 11 disasters.

: Kan Cabinet’s approval rating is 15 percent with a disapproval rating of 70 percent in a poll by Kyodo News.  Former Foreign Minister Maehara Seiji tops the list of potential successors to Kan with 24 percent support, followed by Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano Yukio with 11 percent and DPJ Secretary General Okada Katsuya with 10.9 percent.

: Cabinet Office reports real GDP in Japan shrank at an annualized rate of 1.3 percent in the second quarter of 2011, the third straight quarterly decline but less than the 3.6 percent drop in the first quarter of the year.

: DPJ Secretary General Okada announces an agreement with the opposition LDP and Komeito (Clean Government Party) to review pledges in the 2009 DPJ election manifesto such as eliminating highway tolls, offering free tuition for high school students, and assistance to farmers, in order to pass legislation authorizing the issuance of special government bonds to fund the recovery from the March 11 disasters.

: Kan Cabinet posts an 18 percent approval rating and a disapproval rating of 72 percent in a Yomiuri Shimbun poll; 67 percent of respondents support Kan’s call for reduced dependence on nuclear energy.  The LDP approval rating exceeds that of the DPJ by a margin of 20 to 17 percent.

: Prime Minister Kan dismisses three Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) officials in charge of nuclear energy policy.

: Japan intervenes in currency markets and spends an unreleased amount to stem the value of the yen.  The Bank of Japan announces an expansion of its asset purchasing program from ¥40 trillion to ¥50 trillion.

: Kan Cabinet approves the annual defense white paper, which makes specific reference to Chinese maritime activities in the East and South China Seas.

: Kan government announces basic guidelines for post-March 11 reconstruction.

: Japan’s Self Defense Force (SDF) officially opens its own base in Djibouti in support of anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden.

: Kyodo News poll finds 70 percent of the public agrees or somewhat agrees with PM Kan’s suggestion that Japan shift away from nuclear energy but Kan’s approval rating is 17 percent.

: The Diet passes a second supplementary budget for fiscal year 2011 totaling ¥2 trillion ($25 billion).

: Secretary Clinton, Foreign Minister Matsumoto, and South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan meet in Bali, Indonesia.

: Secretary of State Clinton and Foreign Minister Matsumoto meet on the margins of the ARF in Bali and address Japan’s recovery from the March 11 disasters, bilateral security cooperation, and the APEC forum to be hosted by the US in November 2011.

: DPJ Secretary General Okada Katsuya admits that the DPJ cannot deliver on pledges made in the party’s 2009 election manifesto.

: PM Kan outlines an energy policy vision and suggests Japan should end its reliance on nuclear power.

: A survey by Asahi Shimbun reveals a 15 percent approval rating for the Kan Cabinet.  Seventy percent of respondents said PM Kan should resign by the end of August.

: Bank of Japan revises its growth forecast for fiscal year 2011 to 0.4 percent from 0.6 percent, but retains an outlook of 2.9 percent growth for fiscal year 2012.

: The US, Japan, and Australia hold a joint naval exercise in the South China Sea.

: Reconstruction Minister Matsumoto Ryu resigns due to gaffes in meetings with local government officials during a visit to the Tohoku region.

: According to a Yomiuri Shimbun poll, 72 percent of the public thinks Kan should resign as prime minister by the end of August.  His approval rating was 24 percent with a disapproval rating of 63 percent.   The approval rating for the DPJ and LDP was 19 percent.

: US Senate Appropriations Committee excludes funding covering the relocation of US Marines from Okinawa to Guam from a spending bill for fiscal year 2012, citing concerns about the Japanese government’s ability to implement the relocation plan.

: A Nikkei Shimbun poll finds 69 percent of the public opposes the restart of nuclear reactors currently shut down for maintenance, and 47 percent support reducing the number of nuclear power plants in Japan.

: PM Kan meets Okinawa Gov. Nakaima in Tokyo and states that calling for the relocation of MCAS Futenma outside Okinawa could further delay negotiations over relocation.

: PM Kan declares as conditions for his resignation the passage of a second supplementary budget to support reconstruction, a bill authorizing the issuance of recovery bonds, and a renewable energy bill.

: PM Kan reshuffles Cabinet and appoints Matsumoto Ryu as reconstruction minister and Hosono Goshi as minister in charge of the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daichi power plant.

: Kan government’s Reconstruction Design Council submits a report recommending temporary tax increases and the issuance of government-backed recovery bonds to finance the recovery from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

: Diet enacts a basic law on post-March 11 reconstruction.

:   Security Consultative Committee (SCC) or “2+2” convenes in Washington DC and issues a joint statement reaffirming common strategic objectives for the alliance.

: Bank of Japan introduces plan to extend up to ¥500 billion (approximately $6.2 billion) to financial institutions at an interest rate of 0.1 percent to boost lending to small businesses.

: Defense Minister Kitazawa visits Okinawa and informs Gov. Nakaima that the central government has, in accordance with a bilateral agreement with Washington, decided to proceed with a V-shaped runway at a proposed replacement facility for MCAS Futenma in the Henoko district of the city of Nago.

:   Demonstrations against nuclear power take place throughout Japan to mark the three-month anniversary of the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

: Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Sengoku Yoshito states during an appearance on a television program that Prime Minister Kan has no other choice but to step down.

: Ministry of Foreign Affairs releases results of a poll on the image of Japan in the US: 84 percent of the US public and 90 percent of opinion leaders consider Japan a dependable ally.

: The International Monetary Fund says Japan’s economy will shrink 0.7 percent in 2011 due to the March 11 disasters but also projects 2.9 percent growth for 2012.

: Defense Minister Kitazawa and Defense Secretary Robert Gates meet on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore and issue a joint statement reiterating support for the existing plan to relocate MCAS Futenma on Okinawa.

: Prime Minister Kan survives a no-confidence vote after promising to resign once progress is made in containing the nuclear crisis in Fukushima and recovering from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.  The ruling DPJ expels two party members who supported the motion.

: In a preliminary report on the Fukushima nuclear crisis, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) states Japan underestimated the risks of a tsunami at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant and did not install adequate backup systems.

: A survey by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project shows 85 percent of the Japanese public has a favorable opinion of the United States.

: Moody’s places Japan’s sovereign debt rating on review for a possible downgrade, citing concerns that government plans to reduce debt may prove insufficient given the costs of the March 11 disasters.

: Prime Minister Kan posts a 28 percent approval rating in a Nikkei Shimbun poll.  Seventy four percent of respondents disapproved of the government’s response to the nuclear crisis but 49 percent said Kan should step down after the crisis is stabilized.  The LDP approval rating exceeds that of the DPJ by a margin of 35 to 26 percent.

: President Obama meets Prime Minister Kan on the margins of the G8 Summit in Deauville, France, and reiterates US support for Japan’s recovery from the 3.11 triple disasters.                   

: US Government Accountability Office (GAO) issues a report on costs associated with realigning US force posture in Asia and asks the Department of Defense to provide more detailed cost information and analysis of alternative proposals to better assess affordability.

: Prime Minister Kan addresses the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris and announces a plan for Japan to obtain 20 percent of its energy needs from renewable sources by the 2020s.

: Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell meets officials from the Ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs in Tokyo to discuss US support for Japan’s recovery efforts, bilateral security issues, and preparations for international events including the ASEAN Regional Forum and the APEC Leaders Meeting.

: Japan announces it is postponing a decision over whether to enter negotiations over a multilateral trade liberalization initiative known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

: A poll by Mainichi Shimbun shows 66 percent of the public approves of PM Kan’s decision to shut down the Hamaoka nuclear power plant, but his approval rating is 27 percent.  Half of respondents want Kan to oversee the initial phase of reconstruction from the March 11 disasters and one-quarter state he should resign as soon as possible.

: Okinawa Gov. Nakaima states that a proposal to integrate functions of MCAS Futenma at Kadena Air Base is a “starting point” to resolve the relocation issue, but cites noise pollution reduction measures as a prerequisite for such discussions.

: US Senators Carl Levin (D-MI), John McCain (R-AZ), and Jim Webb (D-VA) release a statement calling for the reexamination of US military basing plans in East Asia, including the relocation of MCAS Futenma on Okinawa.

: PM Kan states Japan will abandon a plan announced last year to build 14 nuclear reactors by 2030 and boost the share of nuclear power in electricity supply to 50 percent.

: Defense Minister Kitazawa Toshimi visits Okinawa to discuss the relocation of US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma with Gov. Nakaima Hirokazu.

: Prime Minister (PM) Kan Naoto orders the suspension of operations at the Hamaoka nuclear power plant southwest of Tokyo.

: The Japanese Diet passes a supplementary budget for fiscal year 2011 totaling ¥4 trillion ($50 billion).

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