Japan Echo

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE KANTEI’S LEADERSHIP
Vol. 37, No. 1, February 2010


CHRONOLOGY

NOVEMBER — DECEMBER 2009

NOVEMBER

2 The Ministry of Finance reports corporate tax revenue for the first half of fiscal 2009 (April–September) at minus ¥1.3 trillion, with rebates exceeding receipts. It is the first such negative figure on record.

6–7 Prime Minister Hatoyama Yukio meets with leaders from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam at the Mekong-Japan Summit Meeting held in Tokyo. The leaders sign a declaration vowing closer cooperation in protecting the environment and other areas of mutual concern.

8 Ahead of US President Barack Obama’s visit to Japan, around 21,000 people gather in Okinawa to demand immediate closure of the US Marine Corps Futenma Air Station and oppose plans to set up a replacement facility within the same prefecture.

10–11 US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner visits Japan. He meets with Prime Minister Hatoyama and other senior officials to discuss the idea of an East Asian community and ways of promoting economic growth.

10 The government announces $5 billion in new nonmilitary aid to Afghanistan to be disbursed over a five-year period.

Prime Minister Hatoyama meets with Peruvian President Alan García in Tokyo. The leaders agree to move forward with an investment agreement set to enter into force on December 10.

11 Minister for Foreign Affairs Okada Katsuya and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meet on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum gathering in Singapore. Clinton expresses the United States’ appreciation for Japan’s pledge of new aid for Afghanistan.

12 An official ceremony takes place in Tokyo to observe the twentieth anniversary of Emperor Akihito’s accession to the throne.

13 Japan Airlines Corp. posts a group loss of ¥131.2 billion for April–September, its worst results since its merger with Japan Air System in 2002. JAL is seeking financial support from the government-backed Enterprise Turnaround Initiative Corp.

13–14 US President Obama visits Japan on the first stop of his four-country official visit to Asia. He meets with Prime Minister Hatoyama, and the two agree to strengthen the Japan-US alliance and work together on climate change, elimination of nuclear weapons, and other areas of mutual concern.

14–15 Prime Minister Hatoyama visits Singapore to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic Leaders’ Meeting.

15–16 Minister for Foreign Affairs Okada visits Okinawa to address the issue of closing Futenma Air Station. Okada states that it will be difficult to annul the bilateral agreement reached with the United States in 2006, which calls for the functions of the base to be relocated to a new facility within Okinawa Prefecture.

17 The government issues its 2009 white paper on suicide prevention. According to the National Police Agency, 32,249 people took their own lives in 2008. The number of recorded suicides was 844 fewer than in 2007, but the figure topped 30,000 for the eleventh year in a row.

20 In its economic report for November, the Cabinet Office states that the Japanese economy is experiencing deflation. It is the first such assessment in approximately three years.

21 Sources at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announce the discovery of a document referring to a secret pact to allow US military vessels and aircraft carrying nuclear weapons to make port or land in Japan. Previous administrations denied the existence of such an agreement.

24 JAL secures an agreement with the government-affiliated Development Bank of Japan giving it access to approximately ¥100 billion in emergency bridge loans to provide short-term financing.

25 Sources say that Prime Minister Hatoyama’s mother has provided his political fund-raising organization with some ¥900 million since 2004. It is alleged that the organization has misreported part of its income, in some cases by claiming donations came from persons later found to be deceased.

27 The Government Revitalization Unit’s budget-screening panel finishes its review of appropriation requests for fiscal 2010 (April 2010 to March 2011). Its nonbinding recommendations call for cuts of almost ¥740 billion and the return of roughly ¥1.6 trillion in reserve funds to the general account.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications announces employment data for October. Total unemployment fell 0.2 points from the previous month to 5.1%, the third consecutive month of decline. October also saw the eighth straight month of year-on-year declines in the consumer price index, which was down 2.2%.

The yen rises to a 14-year high, with the dollar falling briefly below ¥85 in early trading on the Tokyo foreign exchange market.

29 An opinion poll conducted by the Nikkei Inc. and TV Tokyo shows support for Prime Minister Hatoyama’s cabinet at 68%, a 5-point decline from the previous poll conducted in October. The efforts of the new administration’s budget-screening panel to trim waste from the 2010 budget met with approval from 75% of respondents.

DECEMBER

1 The BOJ policy board holds an unscheduled meeting and decides to implement additional monetary easing measures, including an infusion of around ¥10 trillion into the banking system. It also votes to keep its target short-term interest rate at 0.1%.

The Foreign Ministry establishes the Division for Issues Related to Child Custody in response to overseas criticism of Japan’s handling of international child custody cases.

3 Hungarian President László Sólyom meets with Prime Minister Hatoyama in Tokyo.

4 With a vote by the upper house, the National Diet enacts a law suspending the planned sale of shares in Japan Post Holdings Co. by the government, which currently holds 100% of them.

6 The Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare announces that the number of H1N1 swine influenza–related deaths in Japan has reached 100 after an elderly man with preexisting illnesses dies in Kyoto. The man had received a flu vaccination roughly three weeks earlier.

8 The cabinet approves a ¥7.2 trillion emergency economic stimulus package.

10 Prime Minister Hatoyama attends the Bali Democracy Forum II in Indonesia.

11 Government officials reveal that Vietnam has decided to adopt Japan’s Shinkansen bullet train technology for its new high-speed rail system.

Japan and the United States reach an open-skies agreement to liberalize commercial air travel between the two countries. Once signed, it will become Japan’s first-ever bilateral open-skies accord.

14 President Tabaré Vásquez of Uruguay meets with Prime Minister Hatoyama in Tokyo.

14–16 Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping visits Japan and meets with Emperor Akihito, political leaders including Prime Minister Hatoyama, and business executives including Mitarai Fujio, chairman of Nippon Keidanren (Japan Business Federation).

15 The cabinet approves the draft of a second supplementary budget for fiscal 2009.

Prime Minister Hatoyama announces the government will put off making a final decision on relocating the functions of the US Marine Corps Futenma Air Station until sometime next year.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd meets with Prime Minister Hatoyama in Tokyo.

17 Prime Minister Hatoyama arrives in Copenhagen to attend a United Nations climate summit. Ahead of the conference he holds bilateral talks with Danish Prime Minister Lars Rasmussen and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

22 The cabinet approves an outline for tax reforms for fiscal 2010. The plan would keep intact the provisional gasoline tax, which the DPJ had pledged to abolish, and increase the tax on tobacco.

25 The cabinet approves the draft of a record ¥92.3 trillion budget for fiscal 2010. For the first time ever, the volume of government bond issues is slated to exceed tax revenues, which are expected to fall sharply.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications releases unemployment data for November, showing total unemployment at 5.2%. The consumer price index for that month declined 1.9% from the previous year to 99.8.

27 The results of an opinion poll conducted jointly by the Nikkei Inc. and TV Tokyo show support for the Hatoyama cabinet at 50%, an 18-point decline from November’s survey. Disapproval of the cabinet climbed 18 points to 42%.

27–30 Prime Minister Hatoyama visits India and meets with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

29 A government panel confirms the existence of three secret pacts between Japan and the United States. The pacts relate to the docking and passage of nuclear-armed warships, contingency use of US military bases should a crisis occur on the Korean Peninsula, and the transportation of nuclear weapons to Okinawa in the event of an emergency.

30 The cabinet approves the framework for a new growth strategy to increase gross domestic product from an estimated ¥473 trillion in fiscal 2009 to around ¥650 trillion by 2020.

© 2010 Japan Echo Inc.


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