Japan. On April 30, Emperor Akihito abdicated. He was succeeded by his eldest son, 59-year-old Crown Prince Naruhito. According to the law, Japan’s emperor is supposed to be dead, but Parliament approved a law in 2017 that made exceptions for Akihito. He was born in 1933 and had been sitting on the so-called chrysanthemum throne since 1989. The law was added after Akihito in a rare TV broadcast in August 2016 talked about his high age, which was interpreted as a desire to abdicate. Naruhito, whose reign period is called Reiwa (“beautiful harmony”), conducted the ceremony on October 22, corresponding to a coronation.
In the elections to the House of Parliament held in July, the ruling coalition, consisting of the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito, prevailed. The coalition retained the majority in the upper house but failed to get a qualified majority. This means that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is having a harder time getting through changes in the constitution. In September, Abe stewarded the government and appointed 13 new ministers. Among the changes to the heavy items can be mentioned that Taro Kono took over as Minister of Defense and succeeded as Foreign Minister by Toshimitsu Motegi.
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In October, the strongest typhoon – an intense tropical cyclone – pulled over Japan for several decades. Hurricane force winds hit large parts of the country. The wind, in combination with abundant rainfall, caused floods and landslides. The typhoon, called Hagibis, cost at least 43 people its life.
In an advisory referendum on Okinawa in February, 72% of voters said no to the US military base Futenma to be moved to another location on the island. The turnout was approximately 52%. Those who voted no want no military base at all. Despite the opposition among the residents, the relocation of the base would continue, according to Prime Minister Abe.
Japan-South Korea relations continued to deteriorate during the year. In early July, Japan imposed restrictions on the export of three chemical substances needed for the manufacture of semiconductors and mobile phone screens. According to Japan, South Korea had not handled the imported substances in a way that guaranteed that they could not benefit North Korea. The substances can also be used for military purposes. However, appraisers claimed that the conflict was basically about South Korea’s demands for financial compensation for people or relatives of people who were employed as forced laborers by Japan during the Second World War.
In August, Japan decided to remove South Korea from the so-called white list of countries that receive special trade benefits. South Korea took the same measure in September. Already at the end of August, the South Koreans responded by terminating a defense agreement on the exchange of intelligence information of a military nature. However, in October Japan signed two trade agreements with the United States. Through one, countries lowered tariffs on agricultural goods, while the other applied to abolished tariffs on digital products such as film, ebooks and music.
Only in April 2001 did Mori acknowledge that he had lost all public support and resigned. He was replaced at the post by Junichiro Koizumi, who promised to speed up the economy and cleanse the government’s spotty image. Among the government’s 17 ministers, they were 5 women. Including the Foreign Minister, Makiko Tanaka. Japan’s first female foreign minister. The government’s high representation of women made several observers designate it as a Hollywood government whose only goal was popularity. By its accession, Koizumi was also supported by 90% of the population.
At the beginning of the month, China and South Korea criticized history books approved by the Japanese authorities and World War II events. Acc. Seoul and Beijing downplay the books the atrocities the Japanese army committed during the war. The books had been authored by a group of nationalist historians whose position was that the earlier history books had “gone very far” to “please” the views of Japan’s former enemies. They also believed that the countries of Southeast Asia benefited from the Japanese occupation during the war because it prepared them for independence after the war. At the same time, they believed that the Nanking massacre of 1937 that cost 300,000 civilian lives “was very far from being called the Holocaust.” Following protests from neighboring countries, the Japanese Ministry of Education declared that there would be 137 changes to the text.
However, new diplomatic problems quickly emerged in relation to China and South Korea when Koizumi visited the Yasukuni temple in August, which is a memorial of honor for $ 2.4 million. Japanese soldiers – including several war criminals such as the executed Prime Minister Hideki Tojo, who led the country during the war. China and South Korea criticized Koizumi for visiting a temple that “to them is a monument to militarism”. In a communique, the Chinese government declared that the visit had violated the Chinese people’s feelings, and in a park in Seoul, 20 South Koreans cut off the tip of their little finger in protest. In October, Koizumi visited Seoul and apologized for the suffering South Korea had to suffer during the Japanese colony administration.
Koizumi’s popularity waned as a result of a series of scandals, down to 40% in April 2002. In January, he had replaced Tanaka, who had been accused of lying at a meeting. Following the firing of Tanaka, several other ministers resigned in solidarity, and in April Yutaka Inoue resigned. He was the mayor of the ruling party in the upper house.
In May 2002, Japan and the EU ratified the Kyoto Protocol of 1997. Thus, it was ratified by so many countries that it entered into force – despite US opposition.
It helped to improve the relationship between Japan and South Korea that the two countries jointly hosted the World Cup in June 2002 – the first to be conducted in this part of the world.
In September 2002, Koizumi visited North Korea, becoming the first Japanese Prime Minister to make such a visit. During his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, he received apologies for the kidnappings of Japanese nationals that occurred in the 1970s and ’80s and was informed that eight of them had died. The following month, 5 of the abducted Japanese returned to Japan to reunite with their families.
According to CountryAAH, the population of Japan in 2019 was 126,860,190, ranking number 11 in the world. The population growth rate was -0.270% yearly, and the population density was 347.9867 people per km2.