US - Japan

Chronology from Jul 2007 to Oct 2007

:   PM Fukuda sends Deputy FM Mitoji Yabunaka to Burma to protest Nagai’s killing.

: PM Fukuda rules out immediate sanctions on Burma, saying that Japan “won’t immediately impose sanctions and should rather think about how this situation can be resolved,” but “is keeping a close eye on the issue.”

:   FM Komura addresses the UN General Assembly. He calls the death of the Japanese journalist Nagai Kenji “extremely regrettable” and urges the Burmese government to “solve the current situation through dialogue.” Komura makes a formal complaint to Burmese Foreign Minister Nyan Win during a meeting in New York.

: Nagai Kenji, a Japanese journalist for APF News, is killed in Burma when soldiers fired automatic weapons into a crowd of demonstrators.

: The Second Session of the Sixth Round of the Six-Party Talks is held in Beijing after an eight-day delay.

: President Bush calls PM Fukuda to congratulate him on his election and to express hope for Japan’s continued role in the refueling mission. Bush also discusses the Six-Party Talks and repeats his commitment to address the issue of Japanese abductees. Fukuda says that his top legislative priority is the extension of the refueling mission and thanks Bush for supporting Japan’s bid for the permanent seat in the UN Security Council. Bush invites Fukuda to visit the U.S. “at an early date.”

: Kyodo News releases a poll showing the approval rating for the Fukuda Cabinet at 57.8 percent with a disapproval rating of 25.6 percent. The poll shows the Japanese public to be divided on the extension of the refueling mission as 49.6 percent agreed to the extension and 39.5 percent disagreed.

: FM Komura visits the U.S. to address the UN General Assembly and attend a conference on climate change hosted by Secretary Rice in Washington. Komura also meets separately with Rice and discusses the Six-Party Talks, Iran, Japan’s support for Operation Enduring Freedom, climate change, and the situation in Burma.

: PM Abe officially resigns after being released temporarily from hospital. His Cabinet also resigns en masse.

: President Bush addresses the UN General Assembly and announces a tightening of sanctions against the regime in Burma.  The Treasury Department releases details two days later.

: Fukuda officially takes office as prime minister, pledging to restore public faith in the government and continue Japan’s refueling mission. His Cabinet lineup includes: Machimura Nobutaka, former foreign minister, as chief Cabinet secretary; Komura Masahiko, former defense and foreign minister, as foreign minister; and Ishiba Shigeru, former director general of then-Japan Defense Agency, as defense minister.

: In an interview with Reuters, Secretary of State Rice hints that North Korea could be dropped from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list before fully accounting for the Japanese citizens it abducted in the 1970s and 1980s.

: Fukuda defeats Aso in the LDP presidential race. During a General Council meeting where each Diet member has one vote and each of the party’s 47 prefectural chapters has three votes, Fukuda garners a total of 330 votes (254 from LDP Diet members and 76 from the prefectural chapters) while Aso receives 197 votes (132 from LDP Diet members and 65 from LDP prefectural chapters).

: Secretary Rice and FM Machimura meet on the fringes of the UN General Assembly in New York. Rice reassures Machimura that the U.S. will not sacrifice U.S.-Japan for ties with North Korea and expresses hope for Japan’s continued role in the Afghan mission. Machimura says Japan’s stance on North Korea will be unchanged under the new administration and signals Tokyo’s determination to continue the refueling mission.

: In a poll by the Asahi Shimbun, 70 percent of those surveyed say Abe’s resignation is “irresponsible.” The survey also finds that 50 percent of the respondents think a general election should be held “soon.”

: Former Chief Cabinet Secretary Fukuda Yasuo and LDP Secretary General Aso Taro announce their candidacies for the presidency of the LDP.

: PM Abe is hospitalized and diagnosed with abdominal problems caused by stress and fatigue. The LDP decides to choose a new leader on Sept. 23. DPJ President Ozawa criticizes Abe for his abrupt resignation and repeats his party’s opposition to the bill that would extend Japan’s refueling mission in the Indian Ocean.

: PM Abe resigns, saying that “the people need a leader whom they can support and trust.” He reveals that he has instructed party leaders to choose his successor but does not announce a date for his departure from office.

: PM Abe opens an extraordinary Diet session with a policy speech in which he calls for opposition support to extend the law for Japan’s refueling mission, set to expire on Nov. 1.

: During a press conference in Sydney, PM Abe says he is ready to resign if the Parliament fails to extend Japan’s refueling mission in the Indian Ocean.

: PM Abe and President Bush meet on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Sydney, Australia. Bush stresses the importance of Japan’s refueling mission in the Indian Ocean in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

: Abe, Bush, and Australian PM John Howard hold a trilateral meeting on the sidelines of the APEC summit, agreeing to step up cooperation to address regional and global concerns such as the war against terrorism, global warming, and North Korea. The three leaders also discuss relations with China and India.

: The U.S. House of Representatives passes H.R. 508 “recognizing the strong security alliance between the Government of Japan and the United States and expressing appreciation to Japan for its role in enhancing stability in the Asia-Pacific region and its efforts in the global war against terrorism.”

: Environment Minister Kamoshita Ichiro acknowledges misreported political funds but denies any illicit intent.

: The Working Group on the normalization of Japan-DPRK relations, one of five established under the auspices of the Six-Party Talks, convenes in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. The Japanese delegation is led by Ambassador Mine Yoshiki.

: Japan joins India, Australia, Singapore, and the U.S. in the Malabar 07-02 naval exercise in the Bay of Bengal.

: Endo Takehiko, the newly appointed minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, resigns a mere week after his appointment amid revelations that a farmers’ mutual aid association he headed had illegally received government subsidies.

: Two public opinion polls show a sharp increase in the Abe government’s approval rating. The Yomiuri Shimbun indicates a 44.2 percent approval rating and a drop in the disapproval rating to 36.1 percent. The Nikkei Shimbun shows an approval rating of 41 percent and a disapproval rating of 40 percent.

: PM Abe reshuffles his Cabinet, names Aso Taro LDP secretary general, Machimura Nobutaka foreign minister, and Komura Masahiko defense minister.

: In a meeting with U.S. Ambassador to Japan Thomas Schieffer, DPJ President Ozawa refuses to support the extension of legislation allowing Japan to conduct refueling operations in the Indian Ocean in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, declaring that the “U.S. started this war unilaterally without waiting for a consensus to be built in the international community.”

: DM Koike visits Washington, D.C. and meets Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

: Deputy Secretary of State Negroponte visits Japan and meets Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki, DM Koike, Vice FM Shotaro Yachi, Vice DM Takemasa Moriya, and Kyoko Nakayama, the PM advisor on the abductee issue.

: Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Akagi Norihiko resigns amid pressure for contributing to the LDP’s defeat in the Upper House election. Akagi was under fire for questionable accounting practices and had assumed the post on June 1 after his predecessor, suspected of misusing public funds, committed suicide.

: U.S. House of Representatives passes H.Res. 121. The resolution urged Japan to “formally acknowledge, apologize, and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner for its Imperial Armed Force’s coercion of young women into sexual slavery, known to the world as ‘comfort women,’ during its colonial and wartime occupation of Asia and the Pacific Islands from the 1930s through the duration of World War II.”

: The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) suffers a crushing defeat in the House of Councilors (Upper House) election, losing its majority to a coalition led by the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ). PM Abe vows not to step down.

: Defense Minister Kyuma Fumio resigns after saying the U.S. atomic bombings during World War II “brought the war to its end” and were something that “could not be helped.”  Koike Yuriko, special adviser to the prime minister on national security affairs, succeeds Kyuma as DM.

: Public opinion polls show weak support for Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s Cabinet. A poll by the Asahi Shimbun indicates an approval rating of 28 percent with a disapproval rating of 48 percent. A Mainichi Shimbun poll shows a disapproval rating of 52 percent, a record high, with an approval rating of 32 percent.

: The Senior Officials’ Meeting of the Trilateral Strategic Dialogue among Japan, the U.S., and Australia, and the Senior Officials’ Meeting of the Japan-U.S. Strategic Dialogue are held July 2 and 3, respectively, in Washington, D.C., Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns and Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Yabunaka Mitoji attendboth meetings.

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