Japanese Studies

Chronological Chart

1945 US troops land in the Philippines and Okinawa; atomic bombs are dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; Russia enters the war; Japan surrenders; Alliedoccupation under General MacArthur begins.

1946 A new constitution is promulgated.

1948 General Tōjō and others are executed.

1951 The peace treaty is signed in San Francisco;  A US–Japanese Mutual Security Agreement is signed; television broadcasting begins.

1952 The Allied occupation ends.

1955 The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is formed.

1956 Japan is admitted to the United Nations.

1960 A new United States–Japan Mutual Security Agreement is concluded.

1964 Japan hosts the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

1965 Ienaga Saburo, a prominent historian, files the first of his three lawsuits against the ministry of education, charging that the process of textbook approval is unconstitutional.

1970 Novelist Mishima Yukio commits suicide.

1971 The United States agrees to relinquish control of Okinawa by 1972.

1972 Prime Minister Tanaka visits China and normalizes relations.

1975 Emperor Hirohito visits the United States.

1975 Prime Minister Miki Takeo visits the Yasukuni Shrine as a “private individual” on the thirtieth anniversary of the end of World War II.

1978 Fourteen Class A war criminals (convicted by the International War Tribunal for the Far East), including Tōjō Hideki, are quietly enshrined as “Martyrs of Shōwa” at Yasukuni Shrine.

1979 Prime Minister Ohira Masayoshi visits the Yasukuni Shrine.

1980,1981 & 1982 Prime Minister Suzuki Zentaro visits the Yasukuni Shrine.

1983, 1985 Prime Minister Nakasone Yasuhiro visits the Yasukuni Shrine.

1983 President Reagan visits Japan.

1984 Matsui Yayori publishes a short article in Asahi Shimbun on the subject of“comfort women,” the first time any major newspaper addresses the issue.

1986 Equal Employment Opportunity Law comes into effect to protect women's rights.

1987 Privatization of national railways begins.

1989 Emperor Hirohito dies; Crown Prince Akihito is enthroned as Heisei. 

1991 Japan pledges billions of dollars to support the Gulf War; refuses to send troops, citing Article 9 of the Peace Constitution.

1991 In Diet session, the Japanese government denies the involvement of the wartime state and its military in the matter of “comfort women.”

1992 Historian Yoshimi Yoshiaki publishes documentary evidence proving the Japanese government was actively involved in wartime “comfort women” program.

1992 Mohri Minoru is the first Japanese astronaut in space.

1992 Prime Minister Miyazawa Kiichi officially apologizes to South Korea over the“comfort women” issue.

1992 Prime Minister Miyazawa Kiichi visits the Yasukuni Shrine.

1993 As millions of Japanese watch on television, Crown Prince Naruhito marries commoner Owada Masako in an elaborate Shinto religious ceremony.

1993 Earthquake measuring a magnitude of 7.8 strikes northern Japan, killing 196 people.

1994 Ōe Kenzaburō, Japanese novelist, wins the Noble Prize for literature;  Japan fires a rocket to the moon.

1995 Japanese government creates the Asian Women’s Fund to receive private contributions to aid “comfort women.”

1995 Aum Shinrikyo religious cult under the leadership of Asahara Shoko released deadly sarin gas in Tokyo subway, killing seven people and injuring hundreds more.

1995 Kansai Earthquake strikes in Kobe, causing $100 billion in property losses and killing over 5,000 people.

1995 On the anniversary of the end of World War II, Prime Minister Murayama makes the first official apology to other Asian countries for Japan’s wartime atrocities.

1996 Prime Minister Hashimoto Ryutaro visits the Yasukuni Shrine.

1997 Consumption tax is raised from 3 percent to 5 percent over loud public outcry.

1997 Japan signs an international agreement promising to remove remnants of chemical warfare agents left in China after World War II.

1997 In response to historian Ienaga Saburo’s third lawsuit alleging government interference in textbook contents, Supreme Court finds partially for Ienaga.

1998 Winter Olympic games are held in and around Nagano.

1998 Prime Minister Obuchi issues an apology to the people of South Korea for thirty-five years of brutal colonial rule.

1999 “Kimigayo” is reinstated as national anthem; Rising Sun reinstated as official national flag.

2000 Empress Dowager Nagako dies. She was chosen as Hirohito’s wife when she was fourteen years old.

2001 Prime Minister Mori and Russian President Putin signed an accord for the return of two Kurile Islands, Etorofu and Kunashiri, to Japan.

2001 Prime Minister Koizumi makes a surprise visit to Yasukuni Shrine.

2001 Prime Minister Koizumi visits China and South Korea in an attempt to smooth relations between countries.

2001 Japan dispatches two destroyers and a supply ship to the Indian Ocean to support US forces fighting in Afghanistan. This is the first time for Japan to send military ships outside of its own waters since the end of World War II.

2002 Japan and Korea cohost the 2002 Soccer World Cup.

2002 A Tokyo court acknowledges for the first time Japan’s use of biological weapons before and during World War II.

2002,2003 & 2004 Prime Minister Koizumi visits Yasukuni Shrine.

2002 Koizumi is the first prime minister to visit North Korea.

2004 Japan dispatches Army Self-Defense Forces to Samawah, in southern Iraq. This is the first time troops have been deployed to an active war zone since WorldWar II.

2004 The death sentence for Aum Shinrikyo leader Asahara is confirmed.

2004 Japan applies for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

2005 Anti-Japanese protest in Beijing.

2005 Princess Sayako (age thirty-six), the emperor’s only daughter, quits the monarchy and marries Yoshiki Kuroda, a forty-year-old urban planner.

2005 & 2006 Prime Minister Koizumi visits Yasukuni Shrine.

2006 Crown Prince’s younger brother, Akishino, and his wife have a baby boy, the first male heir to the imperial throne born since the mid-1960s. He is named Hisahito and is now the third in line to the throne.

2007 Radiation leaks, burst pipes, and fires at Kashiwazaki nuclear power plant follow a 6.8 magnitude earthquake near Niigata.

2007 Asian Women’s Fund (founded in 1995) dissolves. It had provided 285 women in the Philippines, South Korea, and Taiwan 2 million yen (US$17,800) each in compensation, helped set up nursing homes for Indonesian former sex slaves, and offered medical assistance to some eighty Dutch former sex slaves.

2008 Former agricultural minister Shimamura Yoshinobu joins 159 other lawmakers to pray at the Yasukuni Shrine. Prime Minister Fukuda Yasuo does not attend.

2008 Tokyo prosecutors arrest Tamio Araki, former president of Pacific Consultants International, and three other company executives for allegedly misusing 120 million yen of government funds meant for the disposal of about 400,000 chemical weapons that Japanese troops left behind in China at the end of the war.

2009 DPJ leader Hatoyama Yukio is elected prime minister at head of coalition with social Democratic Party and People’s New Party.

2010 Prime Minister Hatoyama says Japan may rethink US military bases after a city on Okinawa elects a mayor opposed to hosting a major air base.

2010 Japan’s economy grows by less than first estimated in the final quarter of 2009. On an annualized basis, economic growth is 3.8 percent, down from the initial estimate of 4.6 percent.

2010 Prime Minister Hatoyama Yukio apologizes for not keeping an election promise to move the American Futenma military base from Okinawa.

2010 Prime Minister Hatoyama quits. Finance Minister Kan Naoto takes over after a vote in the party’s parliamentary caucus.

2011 The Great Tōhoku Earthquake and tsunami hit Japan on March 11. Beginning of Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear reactor crisis.

2011 Japan wins Women’s World Cup in soccer (July).

2011 Prime Minister Kan Naoto is replaced by Noda Yoshihiko.

(To view the complete Chronological Chart, please see the source: 
Hane, Mikiso, and Louis G. Perez. Modern Japan : A Historical Survey. Vol. 5th ed, Routledge, 2013.)