A Chronology of Japanese History

Yamato Period (300-550) & Asuka Period (550-710)
Nara Period (710-794)
Heian Period (794-1185)
Kamakura Period (1185-1333)
Muromachi Period (1338-1573)
Azuchi-Momoyama Period (1568-1600)
Edo Period (1603-1868)
Meiji Period (1868-1912)
Taishō Period (1912-1926)
Shōwa Period (1926-1989)
Heisei Period (1989-Present)
January 7, 1989 Death of Hirohito (Shōwa) and the beginning of the Heisei Period.
April 25, 1989 TAKESHITA resigns as Prime Minister after it is proven that he (and dozens of other politicians and bureaucrats) had received bribes from the Recruit Company.
June 1989 UNO Sosuke becomes Prime Minister
July 1989 The LDP loses its majority for the first time in the Upper House of the Diet. It captures only 36 of the 126 seats up for reelection.
August 1989 KAIFU Toshiki becomes Prime Minister
1990 Statistical Interlude:
Population - 123,611,000; Avg. Life Expectancy - 75.9 (m), 81.9 (f);
Real GNP - ¥401,812,300,000,000
August 2, 1990 Iraq invades Kuwait, thus beginning the Persian Gulf crisis and war. Japan has a very difficult time deciding how to participate in the war given the constraints of the "Peace Constitution."
November 1991 MIYAZAWA Kiichi becomes Prime Minister
May 1992 HOSOKAWA Morihiro forms the Japan New Party. He was formerly of the LDP but had resigned and spent the past eight years as the governor of Kumamoto Prefecture on Kyūshū.
October 1992 KANEMARU Shin is forced to resign his Diet seat after it is proven that he (and dozens of other politicians and bureaucrats) had received bribes from the Sagawa Kyubin Company.
December 1992 ŌZAWA Ichiro and 42 supporters leave the TAKESHITA faction and start their own within the LDP.
June 18, 1993 The MIYAZAWA cabinet looses a no-confidence vote in the lower house, thus forcing a dissolution of the government and new lower house elections.
June 1993 ŌZAWA Ichiro, HATA Tsutomu, and 43 others leave the LDP and form the Japan Renewal Party (Shinseitō). TAAKEMURA Masayoshi and 9 others leave the LDP and form the New Harbinger Party (Shintō Sakegaki).
July 1993 The LDP loses its majority in the lower house for the first time since 1955. (Although they remain the largest single party). Eight opposition parties (with little in common) form a coalition government with ŌZAWA Ichiro, who had led the oposition away from the LDP, brokering power and making the decisions from behind the scenes.
August 6, 1993 HOSOKAWA Morihiro (leader of Japan New Party and member of opposition coalition) is chosen by ŌZAWA to become the Prime Minister, thus ending LDP rule for the first time since 1955.
December 1993 TANAKA Kakue dies
April 8, 1994 HOSOKAWA is forced out of office after it is proven that he had received bribes from the Sagawa Kyubin Company. ŌZAWA chooses HATA Tsutomu (of the opposition coalition) as the next Prime Minister.
New Party Sakigake (Shintō Sakigake) is formed.
April 1994 MURAYAMA Tomiichi, as head of the party, takes the Socialist Party out of the ruling coalition in protest of the way ŌZAWA is marginalizing it.
June 1994 The opposition coalition disintegrates. The LDP and the Socialist Party form a coalition allowing the LDP to retake power in the lower house of the Diet. TAKESHITA chooses MURAYAMA (of the Socialist Party) as the Prime Minister. (This is the first socialist PM since 1948, and the Socialist Party had to abandon almost every plank they ever stood for in order to work with the LDP.)
June 27, 1994 The Aum Shinrikyo religious cult under the leadership of ASAHARA Shoko (Chizuo MATSUMOTO) releases deadly sarin gas in the town of Matsumoto (Naganoken) killing seven people and injuring hundreds more.
December 1994 The New Frontier Party (Shinshinto) is formed from a merger of Japan Renewal Party (Shinseito), the Democratic Socialist Party (Minshu Shakaito), the Japan New Party, Clean Government Party (Komeito) and five other parties and splinter groups (excluding the Japanese Communist Party). It is led by ŌZAWA.
January 17, 1995 An earthquake of magnitude 7.2 strikes the Kobe area (Hyogoken/Nambu) causing $100 Billion in property losses and killing over 5,000 people.
March 20, 1995 The Aum Shinrikyo religious cult under the leadership of ASAHARA Shoko (Chizuo MATSUMOTO) releases deadly sarin gas in the Tokyo subway system killing a dozen people and injuring thousands more.
August 15, 1995 On the aniversary of the end of WWII, MURAYAMA defies LDP tradition and makes the first official apology to other Asian countries for Japan's wartime atrocities.
December 1995 The Citizens Action League (five lower house members) is formed by members of the former Japan New Party and Social Democratic Party.
The Liberal League is founded (related to the LDP)
January 1996 MURAYAMA resigns and HASHIMOTO Ryutaro (of the Takeshita faction of the LDP) becomes Prime Minister after a parlimentary vote. He defeats ŌZAWA (as leader of the opposition party) in a reasonably close vote - possibly the first time the winner of a vote for Prime Minister wasn't known before the vote was cast.
The New Socialist Party (Shin-Shakaitō) is formed by former Social Democratic Party members.
September 1996 The Democratic Party (Minshutō) is formed by HOSOKAWA and KAN Naoto. (Many Minshutō members are liberal ex-members of the Social Democratic Party, Sakigake and the parliamentary group Citizens Action League)
December 1996 HATA Tsutomu and 12 Diet members resign from the New Frontier Party (Shinshintō) and form the Taiyo Party (Taiyotō).
April 1, 1997 The Consumption tax is raised from 3% to 5% over loud public outcry.
December 1997 The Shinshintō is disbanded with the formation of several new parties, among them the Liberal Party (Jiyutō), the New Fraternity Party (Shintō Yuai), the Voice of the People Party (Kokumin no Koe), and the New Peace Party (Shintō Heiwa).
January 1998 The Taiyo Party, From Five Party, and Voice of the People Party merge to form the Good Governance Party (Minseitō).
January 8, 1998 Six parties: the Democratic Party (Minshutō), the New Fraternity Party (Shintō-Yuai), Voice of the People (Kokumin-no-koe), the Taiyo Party (Taiyo-tō), From Five, and the Democratic Reform Party (Minshu-Kaikaku-Rengo) merge to form Minyuren (Minshu-Yuai-Taiyo-Kokumin-Rengo)
February 1998 The Winter Olympic games are held in, and around, Nagano.
March 12, 1998 The Good Governance Party (Minseitō), New Fraternity Party (Shintō-Yuai), and the Democratic Reform Party agree to merge with the Democratic Party (Minshutō), forming a new, bigger Minshutō.
June 1998 HASHIMOTO resigns as Prime Minister after disappointing results for the LDP in Upper House elections.
July 1998 OBUCHI Keizo (of the LDP) becomes new Prime Minister.
October, 1999 Sumitomo Bank and Sakura Bank announce plans to merge
November 1998 The LDP (led by OBUCHI) and the Liberal Party (led by ŌZAWA Ichiro) form a coalition.
April-May 1999 I walk the Shikoku Pilgrimage around the island of Shikoku, taking 54 days to visit all 88 main temples and the 20 associated bangai temples.
September 30, 1999 A nuclear accident occurs at a uranium processing facility in Tokaimura, Ibaraki Prefecture (140 km northeast of Tokyo). It is rated as a 4 (on an international scale of 0 to 7), exposes at least 70 people to various levels of radiation, and ends up taking the lives of two.
October 6, 1999 The Liberal Democratic Party (Jimintō), Liberal Party (Jiyutō), and Clean Government Party (Komeitō) form a coalition government.
April 1, 2000 ŌZAWA Ichiro announces that the Liberal Party is leaving the government coalition. Most party members follow him, but some remain.
April 2, 2000 Prime Minister OBUCHI suffers a stroke and falls into a coma. LDP Chief Cabinet Secretary AOKI Mikio temporarily takes governmental control while the LDP elects a new party president.
April 5, 2000 MORI Yoshiro is elected LDP party president and therefore replaces OBUCHI as Prime Minister.
May 14, 2000 OBUCHI Keizo dies in his Juntendo, Tōkyō hospital.
June 2, 2000 Opposition parties file a motion of no confidence against the MORI government in the Lower House of the Diet. In response, MORI dissolves the lower house in preparation for elections secheduled for June 25th, thus avoiding a vote on the motion.
June 15, 2000 Empress Dowager Nagako dies at the Imperial medical facility in Tōkyō. The first daughter of Kuni Kunihiko, a descendant of a 13th century emperor, she was chosen as Hirohito's wife when she was 14 years old.
June 19, 2000 Former Prime Minister TAKESHITA Noboru dies of respiratory failure in a Tōkyō hospital.
June 25, 2000 The LDP and its partners Komeitō and the Conservative party (Hoshutō) win 271 seats of 480 total in lower house elections (down 65 seats from pre-electioin totals), thus giving them a majority and keeping the LDP in power. MORI is reconfirmed as Prime Minister.
July 19, 2000 A new 2000 Yen bill is released into circulation by the bank of Japan. This is the first release of a new banknote since 1958.
September, 2000 Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank, Fuji Bank, and The Industrial Bank of Japan (IBJ) agree to merge and set up a joint stock holding company. The new bank will be called The Mizuho Financial Group.
November 20, 2000 Prime Minister MORI survives a no confidence motion (Fushinninan) submitted to the Lower House by the opposition parties. He survives solely because the KATO faction of the LDP decides at the last minute to abstain from voting instead of voting for the motion as they had been threatening.
February 9, 2001 The U.S.S. Greeneville, a US nuclear submarine, collides with the Ehime Maru, a Japanese fishing trawler and training ship for high school students, in waters near Honolulu, Hawaii. Nine people on the Ehime Maru die as the trawler sinks within minutes and the bodies have not been recovered.
March 5, 2001 Prime Minister MORI survives another no confidence motion (Fushinninan) submitted to the Lower House by the opposition parties. However, reports are now surfacing that he will announce his resignation before the start of the LDP party convention on the 13th.
March 10, 2001 MORI announces that the LDP will hold emergency party presidential elections in April, well before they are due in September, indicating his intention to step down then.
March 13, 2001 The LDP announces that even though emergency party presidential elections will be held in April to replace MORI, normal elections will be held again in September. I.E., whoever replaces MORI in April is only temporary.
March 13, 2001 Opposition parties submit a non-binding censure motion against MORI in the upper house.
March 14, 2001 MORI survives as the censure motion against him in the upper house is voted down. It seems a bit bizzarre that the coalition parties have now voted down two no confidence motions and a censure motion - yet as soon as they vote in favor of MORI they turn around and tell him that he needs to resign.
March 26, 2001 Prime Minister MORI and Russian President PUTIN sign an accord which says that both countries recognize the validity of a previously signed 1956 joint document agreeing to the return of two northern islands to Japan. It appears that Russia is agreeing to return Shikotan and Hakomai to Japan, but saying that they have no intention of returning Etorofu and Kunashiri.
April 5, 20001 MORI formally announces his resignation. Elections for a new President of the LDP, and hence new Prime Minister, are scheduled for April 24th.
April 24, 2001 KOIZUMI Junichiro wins the post of LDP Party President (on his 3rd attempt) by a landslide and will become the new Prime Minister in a Diet Session on the 26th. At his first news conference he comments that he wants to ammend Article 9 of the constitution and make it clear that the SDF is Japan's armed forces and that Japan has the right to defend itself.
April 26, 2001 KOIZUMI is elected the 87th Prime Minister in the Diet and then appointed by the Emperor. Expectations of him are enormous!
June 24, 2001 The LDP wins the majority of seats in Tokyo Metropolitan elections, increasing the number of seats they hold by 5 to 53. This seems to augur well for House of Councillors elections coming up in July.
July 2001 This has been another bad month for the Japanese economy. Now in their 11th year of slumps, recessions, and overal bad performance, the stock market dropped to a 16 year low and the unemployment rate is at an all time high of 4.9%.
On the political front, the month hasn't been that much better. Over the course of the past several months there have been three major scandals in the Foreign Ministry involving the misuse (theft) of public funds. Then, KOIZUMI has vowed that he will visit Yasukuni Shrine on August 15th to commemorate those that gave their lives to end WWII (and ignoring the fact that Class A war criminals have been enshrined there as well). And finally, KOIZUMI seems to have approved (through his refusal to criticize or condemn it) the printing and release of a new history textbook that seems to whitewash many of the more atrocious acts that Japan was involved in during WWII. The government simply says there is nothing they can do when China and South Korea complain about the ommissions and whitewash. It is now up to the local school districts to decide if they will use the new text, but South Korea has already cancelled several planned political and military meetings with Japan.
July 29, 2001 In Upper House elections, the LDP, Komeitō, and Conservative parties maintain their majority, and hence control. The LDP picks up 3 extra seats, Komeitō breaks even, and the Conservative party loses 2 seats. Both the Democratic party and the Freedom party gain seats at the expense of the Communist and Social Democratic parties. KOIZUMI vows to carry on with the reforms he has promised, even if it splits up the LDP.
August 1, 2001 In the ever worsening political situation between Japan and South Korea, South Korea has begun fishing off the coast of the four islands north of Hokkaidō claimed by both Japan and Russia. Japan says this is an infringement of their territorial rights but South Korea claims that they have the right under agreements with the Russian government. In retaliation, Japan will forbid them from fishing in other Japanese waters.
August 1, 2001 Not to be outdone by the national government's seeming tilt towards mild nationalism, the Wakayama Prefectural government has decided that it can no longer tolerate the presence of 'non-Japanese' monkeys in the prefecture's forests. A plan will now be drawn up on how to go about catching and eliminating the approximately 200 such foreigners.
August 10, 2001 KOIZUMI wins reelection as LDP party president (he runs unopposed), assuring his continued role as Prime Minister.
August 11, 2001 New population figures show that Japan's population is now up to 126,284,805, an increase of 0.17% from the previous year.
August 13, 2001 In an attempt to find a compromise with both Japanese and foreign critics of his planned visit to Yasukuni Shrine on the 15th, KOIZUMI makes a surprise visit today instead. As expected, this seems to have satisfied nobody, but it looks as if China and South Korea are not imposing any sanctions in return.
August 17, 2001 The Nikkei sinks to yet another 16 year low. Days after the Bank of Japan eased its money policies to inject more cash into the economy, people have decided that that isn't going to help.
August 23, 2001 New unemployment figures show that 4.7% of women and 5.2% of men are now out of work. This is a new record high.
August 27, 2001 As another display of is anger with KOIZUMI's visit to Yasukuni Shrine and the government's approval of the new right-wing history textbook for middle schools, South Korea has refused KOIZUMI's request to go to Soeul to discuss the issues.
August 27, 2001 Toshiba and Hitachi announce that they will each lay off about 20,000 employees.
August 28-30, 2001 For three consecutive days, the Nikkei Stock Market closes at new 17 year lows.
September 10, 2001 The Nikkei Stock Market closes at yet another new 17 year low.
September 11, 2001 Terrorists hijack and crash commercial airplanes into both towers of the World Trade Center in New York City causing them to collapse. Thousands of people are killed, including 24 Japanese.
September 12, 2001 The Nikkei Stock Market closes at yet another new 17 year low, due this time, in large part, to the forced closure of Wall Street and the uncertainty of what the terrorist attack will do to the U.S. economy.
September 19, 2001 Japan announces that it will assist a U.S. retaliation against terrorists (and attack against Afghanistan) by deploying SDF forces and ships to the region around Afghanistan to support logistics in the areas of medicine, transportation, and supply.
October 8, 2001 Prime Minister KOIZUMI travels to China and meets Chinese leaders in Beijing in an attempt to smooth relations between the two countries.
October 15, 2001 Prime Minister KOIZUMI visits Seoul, South Korea, in an attempt to smooth relations between the two countries.
November 8, 2001 Japan dispaches two destroyers and a supply ship to the Indian Ocean to support US forces fighting in Afganistan. This is the first time for Japan to send military ships outside of her own waters since the end of WWII.
December 6, 2001 Economic data released for the second quarter of the fiscal year shows that Japan is once again officially in recession.
June 2002 Japan and Korea co-host the 2002 FIFA World Cup games with matches taking place throughout Japan.
September 2002 Prime Minister KOIZUMI visits North Korea. While there KIM Jung Il admits that North Koreans had previously kidnapped Japanese nationals in Japan. They were brought to North Korea as wives for Japanese radicals living in North Korea and to teach Japanese language and customs to North Korean spys who would operate in Japan.
October 2002 North Korea allows 5 Japanese who had been kdnapped 20 years ago to return to Japan. Their children were not allowed to accompany them and they were supposed to go back to North Korea, but the Japanese government convinced them that they couldn't.
September 2003 The Liberal Party (led by Ichiro ŌZAWA) merges with the Democratic Party of Japan (led by Yukio HATOYAMA and Naoto KAN).
March 2004 Japan dispaches Army Self Defense Forces to Samawah, in southern Iraq. This is the first time troops have been deployed to an active war zone since WWII. Their work will focus on humanitarian efforts such as building and water, and even though they will carry weapons, they will not take part in combat operations and will be protected by soldiers from other countries, mainly Britain.
May 2004 Prime Minister KOIZUMI travels to North Korea to discuss the familes of kidnapped Japanese still in North Korea. When he returns to Japan, the children of two of the couples that returned from North Korea in October 2002 come back to Japan with him.
July 2005 Prime Minister KOIZUMI disolves the Diet and calls snap elections after the upper house votes down his plan to privatize the Postal System.
September 11, 2005 The LDP wins in a landslide in the elections, returning KOIZUMI to office with even more power. He vows to resubmit the Postal Privatization bills in the Diet and to punish diet members who voted against it the last time.
October 14, 2005 Bills finally pass both houses of the Diet allowing KOIZUMI to privatize the Postal System.
July 25, 2006 Japanese military troops are withdrawn from Iraq and return to Japan, thus ending a two and a half year mission in Southern Iraq. The mission was non-combat, and the troops focused on humanitarian work, but it had been the first time since WWII that Japanese troops had been deployed to a war zone.
September 6, 2006 The Crown Priunce's younger brother, Akishino, and his wife have a baby boy, the first male heir to the imperial throne born since the mid 1960's. He is named Hisahito and is now the third in line of succession to the throne.
September 26, 2006 Shinzo ABE is elected Prime Minister in LDP elections and replaces Junichiro KOIZUMI. He is the youngest Prime Minister to date and the first born after the end of WWII. At the start of his term, he supports continued strong ties with the US, a stronger, more assertive, Japanese military, a revision of Article 9 of the constitution, and continued economic reforms. He also says he will work to improve the strained relations Japan has with both China and South Korea, yet has not promised to avoid visiting Yasukuni Shrine.
July 29, 2007 The LDP takes a beating in Upper House elections and loses control of the Upper House for the first time since the end of World War II. The Democratic Party, led by Ichiro ŌZAWA, takes control of the house and vows to end Japan's involvement in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Shinzo ABE refuses to resign as Prime Minister to atone for the lose, which surprises many.
September 12, 2007 Shinzo ABE resigns as Prime Minister and checks himself into the hospital citing ill health from too much stress. The race begins to find a replacement.
September 25, 2007 Yasuo FUKUDA is elected Prime Minister. The Lower House voted to elect Fukuda, while the Upper House, controlled by the opposition Democratic Pary, elected Ichiro ŌZAWA. Japanese law says that the Lower House takes precedent if the two houses can not agree so FUKUDA was given the post.
November 1, 2007 Japan announces the expiration of the law that authorizes Japan to have ships in the Indian Ocean that refuel warships of other countries supporting fighting in Afghanistan. The DPJ, which controls the Upper House of the Diet, would not agree to an extension of the law, thus forcing the Japanese government to halt the operations and call their ships back to Japan.
November 4, 2007 Since taking office in September, Yasuo FUKUDA has been unable to get one bill passed in the Diet due to the opposition of the DPJ, which controls the Upper House. FUKUDA calls on the DPJ to form a coalition and Ichiro ŌZAWA, the DPJ leader, considers it, but other DPJ members force him to reject the idea. ŌZAWA resigns as DPJ party president.
November 6, 2007 Ichiro ŌZAWA, the DPJ leader, retracts his resignation as DPJ party president and agrees to stay on after fierce lobbying from other party members. It seems they were all worried that if he left others would follow and he would establish another party.
August 29, 2008 Several members of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), the largest opposition party, have quit and started a new political party called the Reform Club. They say the DPJ has completely abused their control of the Upper House of the Diet and paralyzed the government.
September 1, 2008 Prime Minister Yasuo FUKUDA suddenly announces his resignation from office, saying that the only way to attain political reform is for him to leave and have and a new team of leaders take over.
September 22, 2008 Taro ASO wins LDP presidential elections and is named the new Prime Minister. With a gerneral election all but certain sometime in November, and Aso not overwhelmingly popular, speculation is that he may not hold the position long.
July 21, 2009 Taro ASO dissolves the Diet ahead of general elections that will take place on August 30. General opinion says that there is a good chance that the LDP will lose the election and the DPJ (Democratic Party of Japan) will win. Some political commentators are saying that this is the start of true "multi-party politics" in Japan.
July 26, 2009 Two Japanese riders are the first Japanese to finish the Tour de Frnace. A couple of riders had ridden in the Tour previously, but neither had been able to finish it. This year, Yukiya ARASHIRO and Fumi BEPPU accomplished that.
August 30, 2009 In today's lower house elections, the ruling Jimintō (LDP) and Kōmeitō block were completely overwhelmed. The LDP came into the election with 300 seats and ended up with only 119. Kōmeitō started with 31 and ended up with 21. Meanwhile, the Minshutō (DPJ) came into the election with 115 seats and finished with 308. When all is settled, it appears that the LDP/Kōmeitō block will become the opposition party and have 140 seats.The new ruling block of DPJ, Shamintō, and Kokumin Shintō will have 318. Taro ASO has tendered his resignation as president & head of the LDP. Yukio HATOYAMA, the leader of the DPJ, will be the next Prime Minister, but one unanswered question for now is what role will Ichiro ŌZAWA play in the new administration? Japanese politics just got interesting!
September 9, 2009 The Minshutō (Democratic Party, DPJ), Shamintō (Social Democratic Party, SDP), and Kokumin Shintō (People's New Party, PNP) come to agreement on enough issues that they agree to form a coalition. While the DPJ won enough seats to control the lower house, they need the coalition to control the upper house of the Diet. The two largest differences between them that remain unsolved are what to do with US military bases on Okinawa (move them to another location on Okinawa, move them to another location in Japan, kick them out of the country?) and whether or not to immediately end Japan's military refueling mission off the coast of Afghanistan in support of US/NATO forces.
September 15, 2009 Yukio HATOYAMA is formally elected Prime Minister.
January 15, 2010 Japan ends it's refuling mission in the Indian Ocean and it's military support of the war in Afghanistan. All ships are ordered to return to Japan.
May 28, 2010 After eight months of negotiations with the United States, Prime Minister HATOYAMA backs down from campaign pledges and agrees to keep US military bases on Okinawa. The official reason is greatly increased tensions on the Korean Penninsula. The base at Futenma, which Okinawans wanted moved off the island, will now move to Camp Schwab in a less populated part of the island.
May 29, 2010 Mizuho FUKUSHIMA, the leader of the Social Democratic Party, is dismissed from her cabinet post after she refuses to sign the agreement keeping US bases on Okinawa.
May 30, 2010 The Social Democratic Party withdraws from the coalition government in response to the new agreement allowing US military bases to remain on Okinawa. Despite their calls for him to step down, HATOYAMA says that he will remain in office and will lead the Democratic Party through Upper House elections coming in July.
June 2, 2010 Prime Minister HATOYAMA announces that he is resigning from office. At his request, Ichiro ŌZAWA, the Secretary General of the Democratic Party, and the architect of the DPJ's rise in power, is also resigning his position.
June 4, 2010 Naoto KAN, Finance Minister under ex-Prime Minister Yukio HATOYAMA, is elected Prime Minister. A few of his most immediate problems are an economy that refuses to grow, worsening deflation, a huge amount of public debt, a high unemployment rate, a rapidly aging population with one of the world's lowest birthrates, and convincing the people on Okinawa to accept the 2006 agreement between Japan and the U.S. regarding US military bases on the island.
July 6, 2010 For the first time since WWII, NHK, Japan's public broadcasting network, has said it will not broadcast the upcoming sumo tournament, scheduled to take place in Nagoya. This comes after evidence that many sumo wrestlers and coaches have been betting on baseball games. Given that the gambling is organized and run by the yakuza, this also brings up (again) the long-standing contention that the yakuza is heavily controlling aspects of sumo, including possible match rigging. Today, one top ranked wrestler (Kotomitsuki) and his coach have been banned for betting. All of this is in addition to other wrestlers who have recently been banned for marijuana use, the top yokozuna (Asashoryu) recently being forced to retire for bad behavior, a recent hazing death in one of the stables, and more. Sumo's reputation is in a shambles.
July 11 2010 In Upper House elections today, the ruling DPJ (Democratic Party of Japan) was thoroughly defeated and unable to hold a majority of the house seats. The most likely cause was the DPJ's call for a sales tax increase in order to bring down Japan's huge public debt. The public has not been very happy with that suggestion and today's vote proves it. Pressure is now on for Prime Minister KAN to resign, which, when it happens, will be the third change in leadership in a year.
March 11, 2011 A 9.0 magnitude earthquake followed by a resulting huge tsunami devastates the area around Fukushima Prefecture. Included in the damage is the TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor facility, causing all 4 units to melt down and release radiation. Approximately 16,000 people die (mainly from the tsunami) and another 5,000 are missing. An area of 20 km (12 mi) around the site is evacuated and declared uninhabitable, and will probably remain so for decades.
August 26, 2011 Prime Minister Naoto KAN resigns. The process of choosing a new head of the DJP, and new prime minister, begins.
August 29, 2011 Finance Minister Yoshihiko NODA is elected the new head of the DJP and will be confirmed by the Diet as the new prime minister on August 30. Issues he must deal with include a stagnant economy, a huge national debt, a Yen that is too strong, cleanup of the Fukushima reactor facility and surrounding area, relocating the 100,000 people still living in temporary shelter since the tsunami that devastated Fukushima, and the perennial problem of an aging population and, hence, decreasing tax base.

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