Chronography of Japan, post World War Two

Page last modified 24 October 2023


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Demography of Japan

See also China, Japan, Korea

See also Japan pre 1891


8 July 2022, Shinzo Abe, former Japanese PM, was shot and killed by a disaffected Japanese naval veteran.

28 August 2020, Shinzo Abe, Japanese Prime Minister, resigned, having broken the previous length of service record by four days.

14 March 2011, Fears of a meltdown at Fukushima nuclear plant, Japan. See Japan earthquake.

11 September 2005, Japanese Prime Minister Junchiro Koizumi called a general election 2 years early after Bills to privatise Japan Post were voted down in the Upper House.The incumbent Liberal Democratic Party were re-elected this day with a landlide victory.

2003, Japan sent troops to support the USA in the invasion of Iraq. This was the first time Japanese soldiesr had operated in a war zone since World war two, and it drew protests from those who felt this violated Japan�s pacifist stance.

2001, Japan�s Liberal Democratic Party appointed populist right-winger Junichito Koizumi as Prime Minister. Controversially, he paid homage at a memorial to Japan�s war dead. Tanaka Mikiko became Japan�s first female Foreign Minister.

2000, Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi fell into a coma and was replaced by Yoshiro Mori. The Liberal Democratic Party remained in power, with its coalition oartners, after the 6/2000 general elections. Unemployment rose above 5% for the first time since World War Two.

26 November 1998, Japan and China signed a joint declaration of friendship and economic development.

19 May 1998, Uno Sosuke, Japanese Prime Minister, died.


23.0, Japan 1974-96

1996, Japan repealed its Eugenic Protection Laws, under which females deemed to havemental disabilities could be forcibly sterilised.

15 April 1996, The USA returned some of its bases to Japan and promised to enforce better discipline amongst its troops, following a scandal in 1995 in which a child was raped. See 4 September 1995.

16 May 1995, Japanese police besieged the headquarters of the Aum Shrnrinko cult near Mount Fuji, and arrested the leader Shoko Asuhara.

4 September 1995, The alleged rape of a 12-year-old girl in Japan by three US servicemen caused widespread resentment against the US military presence in Japan. See 15 April 1996.

20 March 1995. Nerve gas was released on the Tokyo Subway by the Ayum Shrinkyo religious cult.Five separate trains were affected; 12 died and 5,500 were injured.

17 January 1995. 5.46 am, local time, earthquake in Kobe, southern Japan, killed 6,433, and injured 27,000. The quake measured 7.2 on the Richter Scale and made 300,000 homeless. Cost of damage was estimated at �63 billion. It was the worst quake to hit Japan since Tokyo, 1923.

18 July 1993, In Japan the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) lost power after a 38-year rule. Corruption scandals were a major factor in this defeat. Morihiro Hosokawa, leader of the Japan New Party, formed a coalition that dod not include the LDP.

8 September 1992, The Japanese Cabinet approved sending peacekeeping troops to Cambodia. This was the first overseas deployment of Japanese forces since 1945.

15 June 1992, The Lower House of Japan�s Diet (Parliament) approved the participation of up to 2,000 Japanese peacekeeping personnel in UN missions across the world. This would involve the deployment of armed Japanese personnel abroad, a major change to the military since WW2.

1 February 1992. Japanese Liberal Democratic Party politician Fumio Abe was formally charged with bribery. His indictment further damaged a Party already harmed by other financial scandals.

1990, Japan amended its immigration law, opening up the labour market to foreign workers. This was in response to chronic labour shortages caused by a rapidly falling birth rate and ageing population.

12 November 1990, Crown Prince Akihito became the 125th Japanese monarch and Emperor.

21 October 1990, Japanese coastguard vessels repulsed two Taiwanese ships seeking to assert a Taiwanese claim on the Senkaku Islands. Anti-Japanese protests ensued in Hong Kong.

23 December 1989, The Bank of Japan announced a major interest rate rise, leading to the peak and bursting of the Japanese �bubble� economy.

24 July 1989, Japan�s Liberal Democratic Party suffered its first defeat in 30 years, forcing the resignation of Prime Minister Sosuke Uno. A scandal involving Uno�s former mistress ruined his career.

7 January 1989. Emperor Hirohito of Japan died, aged 87. He had ruled for more than 62 years. 500,000 people lined the streets for his funeral on 24 February 1989; US & British war veterans protested that their countries should not honour a war criminal. Hirohito had opposed war with the USA in the 1930s, he was also against the Japanese invasion of Manchuria and Japan�s alliance with Nazi Germany. In 1941 he proposed peace with Washington, but was persuaded by the War Minister and his generals to hit Pearl Harbour. He was buried near his father�s mausoleum in the Imperial Palace Gardens in Japan; his son Akihito, 55, succeeded him.

6 August 1985, In Hiroshima, tens of thousands marked the 40th anniversary of the bombing of the city.

17 March 1985, Expo '85, World's Fair, opened at Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan. It ran until September 16.

15 April 1983, The first non-American Disney theme park opened, near Tokyo.

7 October 1979, In Japanese general elections, the Liberal Democrat Party won a narrow victory.

12 August 1978, China and Japan signed a 10-year friendship treaty. In April 1978, Chinese fishing boats had been operating near the Japanese held, but Chinese/Taiwan claimed, Senkaku Islands. These boats were withdrawn before the treaty was signed.


23(a), Japanese Lockheed bribery scandal 1974-76

26 July 1976, The former Prime Minister of Japan, Kakuei Tanbaka, was arrested on charges that he accepted bribes from the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation.

9 December 1974, Miki Takeo became Japanese Prime Minister.

26 November 1974, Kakuei Tanaka resigned as Prime Minister of Japan after financial scandals emerged.

18 November 1974, US President Ford made the first ever visit by a US President to Japan.


15.0, Relic Japanese soldiers from World War Two, 1972-74

6 September 1974. At least one Japanese soldier was reported to be still roaming the forests of the central Philippines, left behind after World War Two.

10 March 1974, A Japanese soldier was found hiding on Lubang Island in the Philippines; he believed World War Two was ongoing and was waiting for relief by his own side.

24 January 1972, A Japanese soldier, Shoichi Yokoi, was found on Guam, unaware that World War Two had ended. His last two surviving companions had died in 1964. He lived until 1997.


14.0, Japan 1969-76

5 December 1976, In Japan, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party suffered losses in the general election.

3 June 1975, Eisaku Sato, Japanese politician, died aged 75.

13 April 1974, End of a strike by 6 million Japanese workers, which had begun on 11 April 1974.

29 September 1972, Japan and China formally ended the state of war between them that had existed since 1937.

14 May 1972, A treaty between the USA and Japan returned the Ryukyu and Senkaku Islands to Japanese sovereignty. However the US retained rights to operate a military base on Okinawa, with possible nuclear use, which the Japanese objected to.

13 May 1972, A fire devastated a department store in Osaka, Japan, killing 115 people.

17 February 1972, Japan protested to Taiwan after Taiwan formally announced the incorporation of the Senkaku islands into Taiwanese territory.

5 October 1971, Emperor Hirohito of Japan arrived in Britain on a tour of Europe.He was the first Japanese sovereign to leave Japan for over 2,000 years.He left the UK on 7 October 1971.

30 December 1971, China claimed the Senkaku islands, following Taiwan�s claim of 11 June 1971, as part of greater China.

11 June 1971, Taiwan claimed the Senkaku Islands, which had been occupied by Japan in 1895 (after Japan had overrun the larger Ryukyu Islands, including Okinawa. The Ryukyu Islands had been an independent kingdom until overrun by China in the 7thcentury and then by Japan in the 17th century. China had relinquished its claims to the Ryukyu Islands in 1874. From 1945 the Ryukyu and Senkaku Islands had been under US occupation.

25 November 1970, The Japanese novelist Yukio Mishima harangued 1,000 troops on the disgrace of losing World War Two, then tried to persuade them to form a private army and launch a military coup. When he realised this was not going to happen, Mishima committed seppuku, ritual suicide.

30 March 1970, Japanese students hijacked a Boeing 727 and flew to North Korea.

9 July 1969, Rear Admiral Raizo Tanaka, Japanese Imperial Navy fleet commander during World War II, died aged 77.


13 August 1965, Ikeda Hayato, Prime Minister of Japan, died.

22 June 1965, The Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea was signed in Tokyo, almost twenty years after South Korea had been liberated from the Japanese Empire.

1964, Japan joined the OECD. Tokyo hosted the 1964 Olympics.

1 September 1963, About 100,000 people in two Japanese cities demonstrated against the presence of American nuclear submarines.

20 November 1960, In Japanese elections the Liberal Democratic Party increased its majority in the 467 member House of Representatives, gaining 13 seats for a total of 296; the Japan Socialist Party gained 23 for a total of 145. The leftist Democratic Socialists fell from 40 to 23. Ikeda told a news conference that the results showed that the Japanese people approved the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty that had been violently protested against in the Spring

12 October 1960, Inajiro Asanuma, leader of the Japanese Socialist Party, was assassinated because of his support for an anti-Communist Treaty with the USA, see 19 January 1960.

19 January 1960, President Eisenhower of the USA signed a Treaty of Mutual Co-operation and Security with Japan in Washington. This confirmed Japan as an integral member of the anti-Communist alliance. However there was popular anger against the USA, against the perceived growth of US influence over Japan, and the Japanese Government advised US President Eisenhower to cancel a planned visit. See 12 October 1960.

22 October 1959, Rioting broke out in San'ya, a deprived area of Tokyo, as a crowd of about 300 attacked the local police station.

12 January 1958, Elections in Naha, capital of Okinawa, Japan, returned an independent Left-wing Mayor, indicating strong opposition to continued US occupation.


5.0, Japan becomes self-governing nation again, 1951-57

9 February 1957, Poland and Japan resumed diplomatic relations.

18 December 1956. Japan joined the United Nations.

1955, In Japan, The Liberal Democratic Party was set up.

8 May 1955. Hiroshima victims arrived in the USA for plastic surgery.

16 February 1955, Nearly 100 died in a fire at a home for the elderly in Yokohama, Japan.

5 November 1954, Burma and Japan signed a peace treaty.

7/1954, Defence of Hokkaido Island, excepting air and radar units, passed from the US to the Japanese military. The size limit of the Japanese military was raised from 120,000 to 165,000, and a ban on the employment of former officers of the Japanese Imperial Army was removed.

8 March 1954, The US and Japan signed a mutual defence pact.

27 September 1953, Japan established a national defence force.

28 April 1953, Japan regained the right to self-governmemnt, which had been lost at the end of World War Two.

1 October 1952, The Liberal Party won Japanese elections.

5 August 1952, Japan and China resumed diplomatic relations.

8 September 1951, The San Francisco Treaty of Friendship between the US and Japan was signed.


2.0, Aftermath of World War Two; Japanese war crimes trials, 1945-49

July 1949, Evacuation of Japanese civilians from the Kuril Islands (Etorofu, Kunashir), and their relocation on Hokkaido, was now complete.

23 January 1949, General elections were held in Japan. The Democratic Liberal Party won 269 of the 466 seats.

23 December 1948, Hideki Tojo, Japanese Prime Minister 1941-44, who attacked Pearl Harbour and so provoked the entry of the USA into the War, was hanged as a war criminal. The following day US General McArthur terminated all other Japanese war crimes trials and released the defendants. Many Japanese believed a large number of these were as guilty as Tojo was.

14 December 1948, South Korea formed a Department of National Defence.

12 November 1948, The main War Crimes trials ended in Japan. Hideki Tojo and 6 others were sentenced to death by hanging; 16 received life imprisonment, and 2 were given shorter prison terms. The hangings were carried out on 23 December 1948.

7 October 1948, In Japan, Shigeru Yoshida formed a Democratic-Liberal Government.

July 1947,Evacuation ofJapanese families living on the islands of Etorofu and Kunashir, Japanese territory before World War Two but now occupied by Soviet troops. Families were given 24 hours notice to pack and leave. They were taken by ship to Sakhalin, another larger island once divided between Japan and Russia but now entirely Russian-occupied, then relocated on the Japanese northernmost island of Hokkaido. Many of these families buried valuable items in their gardens, expecting to return soon to retrieve them.

24 May 1947, Tetsu Katayama replaced Shigeru Yoshida as Prime Minister of Japan.

3 May 1947, A new Constitution was approved in Japan by means of a referendum. Women voted in Japan for the first time. The Emperor�s powers were limited, and the country renounced the use of war. :Land reforms curbed the power of absentee landlords and land was redistributed.

3 March 1947, Japan adopted a new Constitution, renouncing war.

24 January 1947, The prosecution rested in the war crimes trial of Hideki Tojo and 24 other Japanese wartime leaders.

December 1946, Russia began relocating several thousand settlers to the southern portion of Sakhalin, formerly Japanese territory but now Soviet-occupied.

3 November 1946, Emperor Hirohito of Japan announced a new anti-war Constitution, renouncing the maintainance of armed forces.

21 October 1946, Major land reform in Japan. The Law for the Special Establishment of Independent Cultivators reduced the percentage of Japanese farmland rented by sharecroppers from landlords from 46% to 10%.

29 April 1946, Japanese General Hideki Tojo and 27 other members of the military were formally indicted by an Allied war crimes Court. There was international pressure to also try the Japanese Emperor, but the US feared that this would precipitate the disintegration of Japan as a nation and thereby require the continuedprolonged presence of a large US occupation force.

10 April 1946, Japan held elections for the new Diet (parliament). Under US influence, women now had the vote, transforming traditional Japanese hierarchies, and 34 women were elected.

4 April 1946, The eleven nation Far Eastern Commission exempted Japan's Emperor Hirohito from being tried for war crimes.

23 February 1946, Lt. Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita, who led the Japanese conquest of Singapore and the Philippines, was executed by hanging in Manila for war crimes, followed by Lt. Col. Seichi Ohta, who headed security for Japan's �thought police� (kempei tai), also interpreter Takuma Higashigi.

11 February 1946, The appeal by Japanese General Masaharu Homma against his death sentence was rejected by the US Supreme Court.

4 February 1946, The US Supreme Court rejected the appeal by Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita against his death sentence by 2 to 6.

27 January 1946, In the Far East, more than 2,000 airmen went on strike at the slow pace of demobilisation.

19 January 1946, The Far East International War Crimes Tribunal was established. This enabled countires such as India and The Philippines, which had not been signatories to the surrender of japan, to be represented in the war crimes trials.

4 January 1946, General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers during the occupation of Japan, began a purge of the Japanese government, with the goal of removing �undesirable personnel� from office. Over two and a half years, 210,287 people were removed or barred from public office.

7 December 1945. The Japanese General Yamashita was sentenced to death as a war criminal � on the anniversary of Pearl Harbour � and was hanged the following month.

19 November 1945, General MacArthur ordered the arrest of 11 Japanese wartime leaders, including ex-Foreign Minister Yosuke Matsuoka and General Sadao Araki.

24 September 1945, Emperor Hirohito of Japan claimed he did not want war and blamed Tojo for Pearl harbour. Tojo had attempted suicide on 8 September 1945 to avoid arrest by US forces.

22 September 1945, MacArthur issued instructions for setting up an International War Tribunal to try major Japanese war criminals.


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