US - Japan

Chronology from Jul 2008 to Oct 2008

: The Japanese government announces that the unemployment rate increased to 4.2 percent, a two-year high.  Separate data shows that household spending fell 4 percent in August compared to last year.

: Ruling coalition partner New Komeito (Clean Government Party) agrees to hold Diet deliberations on the supplementary budget proposal as early as October 6.

: A poll conducted by public broadcaster NHK shows that 72 percent of the public supports Prime Minister Aso’s decision to postpone for three years any consideration of a consumption tax increase.

: The Japanese government announces a six-month extension of economic sanctions against North Korea in response to Pyongyang’s failure to reopen an investigation of Japanese abductees and its decision to restart nuclear processing at the Yongbyon complex.

: U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Christopher Hill arrives in Seoul to confer with counterparts in the Six-Party Talks on North Korea’s nuclear programs and prepare for an Oct. 1 visit to Pyongyang.

: Prime Minister Aso outlines his agenda in an address to the Diet, touting an economic stimulus package and vowing to extend Japan’s refueling mission in the Indian Ocean in support of coalition operations in Afghanistan.

: The Aso Cabinet approves a ¥1.81 trillion ($17 billion) supplementary budget for fiscal year 2008 to stimulate the economy.

: Just four days after his appointment, Nakayama Nariaki resigns as Japan’s Minister of Land, Transport, Infrastructure, and Tourism due to a series of gaffes.

: Several news organizations publish polls with approval ratings for the Aso Cabinet as follows: Asahi Shimbun: 48 percent; Nikkei Shimbun: 53 percent; Yomiuri Shimbun: 49.5 percent; Mainichi: 45 percent.  The LDP proved more popular than the DPJ in every poll by an average of 4.5 percent.

: Foreign Minister Nakasone Hirofumi meets U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in New York to discuss North Korea policy, the financial crisis, the situation in Georgia, and counterterrorism issues.

: During a media availability in New York, Prime Minister Aso expresses support for reinterpreting Japan’s constitution to exercise the right of collective self defense.

: Prime Minister Aso addresses the UN General Assembly in New York.

: The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington arrives at Yokosuka naval base amid protests from local residents.

: An Asahi Shimbun poll shows a 48 percent approval rating for the Aso Cabinet.

: Japan’s Finance Ministry reports that Japan posted its first trade deficit in 26 years in August due to rising oil prices and decreased demand in the United States.

: A poll by Kyodo News shows a 48.6 percent approval rating for Aso’s Cabinet.  The poll also declares Aso a favorite in a head-to-head contest with DPJ president Ozawa Ichiro, garnering 53.9 percent to Ozawa’s 29.4 percent.  Respondents were split over which party they would support in the next general election with 34.9 percent favoring the LDP and 34.8 percent siding with the DPJ.

: Aso Taro becomes prime minister and forms a Cabinet.

: The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) announces that North Korea has barred its inspectors from the Yongbyon nuclear facility and intends to restart nuclear processing in a week.

: Nomura Holdings Inc. announces the purchase of the European and Middle Eastern equities and investment banking operations of Lehman Brothers.

: Ota Akihiro is re-elected as leader of New Komeito (Clean Government Party), a coalition partner of the ruling LDP.

: Aso Taro wins the LDP presidential election race in a landslide.

: Mitsubishi UFJ Group agrees to take up to a 20 percent stake in Morgan Stanley.  Nomura Holdings Inc. buys the Asia units of Lehman Brothers.

: Japan announces a plan for conducting a missile defense test with the U.S. in November, citing concerns about North Korea’s plans to restart its main nuclear complex.

: Ozawa Ichiro is re-elected president of the DPJ.

: North Korea announces its intention to restore a nuclear reactor at Yongbyon in response to the U.S. failure to remove Pyongyang from the State Sponsors of Terrorism List.

: Japan’s Agriculture Minister Ota Seiichi resigns in the wake of a scandal involving the sale of tainted rice by Mikasa Foods.

: Fukuda Cabinet approves a bill to extend Japan’s refueling mission in the Indian Ocean until January 2010.

: In a Jiji News survey, 31 percent of respondents said they would vote for the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) in the next general election while 29 percent support the LDP.

: Japan’s banks and insurers announce a combined ¥245 billion ($2.3 billion) in potential losses stemming from the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings, Inc.

: Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force conducts a successful test of the Patriot (PAC-3) missile defense system at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, intercepting a target simulating a ballistic missile.

: Bank of Japan moves to stabilize financial markets by injecting an additional $24 billion into the financial system.

: Government data shows the Japanese economy contracted at annualized rate of three percent in the second quarter.

: The LDP presidential race kicks off with five candidates vying to succeed Fukuda as prime minister: Aso Taro, Yosano Kaoru, Ishiba Shigeru, Koike Yuriko, and Ishihara Nobuteru.

: Japan’s Defense Ministry announces that Air Self-Defense Forces providing airlift support between Kuwait and Iraq would be withdrawn by the end of 2008.

: During a hearing in Yokohama district court, prosecutors demand a three-year prison term for a Maritime Self-Defense Force lieutenant commander accused of leaking classified data on the Aegis air defense system.

: Fukuda Cabinet approves Defense White Paper 2008, which cites concerns about the lack of transparency in China’s military build-up and Russian military drills close to Japan.

: A Nikkei Shimbun poll reports PM Fukuda’s approval rating falls to 29 percent, a 9 percent drop from early August.

: PM Fukuda announces his resignation unexpectedly, suggesting that another leader may be better able to handle the challenges of a divided legislature.

: The Japanese government unveils a stimulus package worth $107 billion.

: A Japanese aid worker is killed by Taliban forces in Afghanistan.

: A law allowing the use of space for defense purposes goes into effect.

: In a report submitted to the ruling LDP, the Ministry of Defense requests a 2.2 percent increase in the defense budget for fiscal year 2009 to cover increasing fuel costs and upgrades to the F-15 fighter fleet.

: Japan encounters resistance to its sectoral approach to greenhouse gas emissions reductions during United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meetings in Accra, Ghana.

: The first telecommunications satellite built and designed solely by Japan goes safely into orbit.

: North Korea agrees to reinvestigate the fate of Japanese abductees by this fall in a bilateral meeting with Japanese Foreign Ministry officials in China.  Japan agrees to allow general travel and charter flights between North Korea and Japan once the investigation begins.

: Ambassador Schieffer meets Defense Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa and urges extension of Japan’s refueling mission in the Indian Ocean.

: The Japanese government changes its assessment of the economy to “deteriorating” and concedes Japan may enter a recession.

: Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Secretary General Aso Taro suggests the ruling party postpone efforts to balance the budget by 2011 in favor of stimulus measures.

: PM Fukuda’s approval rating is 38 percent according to a Nikkei Shimbun poll, a 12-point increase from a previous survey in June.

: PM Fukuda reshuffles Cabinet to boost his approval rating with a focus on economic revitalization.

: The foreign ministers of the parties to the Six-Party Talks meet informally on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum in Singapore to discuss ways to verify North Korea’s efforts at denuclearization.

: A poll by Asahi Shimbun shows the G8 summit did little to increase PM Fukuda’s approval rating, which stood at 24 percent.

: A government advisory panel submits to the prime minister a report with proposals for reform of the Defense Ministry.

: The latest round of the Six Party Talks, the first since September 2007, concludes in Beijing with a general agreement on principles for verifying North Korea’s declaration on denuclearization.

: PM Fukuda hosts the G8 summit at Lake Toyako, Hokkaido, focusing on climate change, development and Africa, global economic issues, and nonproliferation.

: President Bush and Prime Minister Fukuda meet in Hokkaido, Japan, and discuss the North Korean nuclear issue, U.S. support for Japanese abductees, Japan’s contributions in Iraq and Afghanistan, climate change, and economic issues.

: The office of the U.S. Trade Representative releases the seventh report of the U.S.-Japan Regulatory Reform and Competition Policy Initiative, established in 2001 to promote changes that improve the business climate and enhance opportunities for trade and commerce between the two countries.

: Cabinet Office poll reveals that only 30 percent of the Japanese public is familiar with Prime Minister Fukuda’s “Low Carbon Society” initiative on climate change.  Ninety percent of respondents offered general support for the measure.

: U.S. Ambassador to Japan Thomas Schieffer meets relatives of Japanese abductees in Tokyo.

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