Chronology 1997 - 2006
Torkel Patterson, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, Asia, in the Bush administration, states in a paper for a Pacific Forum Conference, regarding Japan’s constitution, “Restrictive interpretations relating to collective security and, especially, collective self-defense, are anachronistic in the post-Cold War era, weaken Japan’s moral and political authority in the international community, and should be revised.
January 30 - Formation of the Society for the Making of New History Textbooks (Atarashii Rekishi Kyōkasho o Tsukuru Kai 新しい歴史 教科書をつくる会 or the Tsukurukai つくる会).
April 17 - In a session of the House of Councillors, a revised version of the Special Measures Law for Occupation Troop Grounds (Kaisei Chūryū Gun Yōchi Tokubetsu Sochi hō 改正駐留軍用地特別措置法 that allows the U.S. base in Okinawa 沖縄 to be used legally even after its lease expires is passed.
May 23 - The formation of the Union of Ministers Promoting the Establishment of a Constitutional Research Ministers' Council (Kenpō Chōsa Iinkai Secchi Suishin Giin Renmei 憲法調査委員会 設置推進議員連盟 (also known as the Kenpō Giren 憲法議連), with Nakayama Tarō 中山太郎 as president.
July 15 - The 1997 Defense White Paper, regarding emergency legislation, states that not only research but restructuring of the laws is desirable, thus stipulating for the first time the necessity of legal change.
September 23 - The governments of the U.S. and Japan agree on the new guidelines of U.S.-Japan security cooperation (known in popular parlance as the New Guidelines). These include 40 articles pertaining to Japan's contingency backup assistance to the U.S. in surrounding areas, namely the provision and transport of supplies, as well as the provision of civilian airports and harbors.
November 2 - The Asahi Shinbun publishes a survey conducted by 43 scholars of the constitution regarding the new guidelines for the U.S.-Japan security pact. Of the 141 people who answered, about 80% or 114 of them said that the New Guidelines were "suspect of violating the constitution" 「iken no utagai ga ari 違憲の疑いがあり」.
April 28 - The government submits to the Diet a plan related to the New Guidelines that includes the establishment of laws regarding "areas around Japan" (Shūhen jitai hō周辺事態法).
May 26 - The general council of the LDP approves the revision of the Diet Law for the purposes of establishing a Constitutional Research Council.
June 5 - The PKO Cooperation Law is revised, incorporating the principle of weapon usage being determined by the orders of a superior at the front.
November 30 - Ōmori Masasuke 大森正輔, director of the Cabinet Legislative Bureau, responds to a question from a representative of the House of Representatives by stating that the government will maintain its policy on not allowing participation in the UN Joint Forces to exceed a minimum limit for the purposes of self-defense.
December 2 - The DPJ establishes a Constitutional Research Group.
February 23 - The Hiroshima Board of Education 広島教委, before the prefectural high schools' graduation ceremony of March 1st, issues an official order to the principals of the various prefectural high schools to fully implement the raising of the national flag「kokki katsuyō 国旗掲揚」 and the mass singing of the national anthem「kokka seishō 国歌斉唱」 on the ceremonial grounds.
May 24 - The formation of the New Guidelines Related Law (Shin Gaidorain kanren hō 新ガイドライン関連法) that would put the "Border Affairs Law" (Shūhen jitai hō 周辺事態法) into effect.
June 11 - In a session of the cabinet, the unified view is expressed that the 'Kimi' of the Kimigayo is correctly interpreted as the Emperor being the unified symbol of Japan and Japanese citizens. On the same day, the National Flag and National Anthem bill 「国旗・国歌法案」 is submitted to the Diet.
June 29 - PM Obuchi Keizō 小渕恵三, in a session of the House of Representatives, revises the view expressed on 6.11 that the 'Kimi' of Kimigayo is the unified symbol of Japan and Japanese citizens, and refers to the status of the Emperor being based on the sovereignty and consensus that reside in the people.
July 29 - The formation of the Revised Diet Law that allows for the establishment of Constitutional Research Groups within both Houses during the ordinary Diet session of next year.
August 9 - The National Flag and National Anthem Law is passed.
August 10 - Ozawa Ichirō, head of the Free Party, publishes the "Test Plan for Japanese Constitutional Revision" 「Nihon Koku Kenpō Kaisei shian 日本国憲法改正試案」 that stipulates the right to collective self-defense.
December 16 - The Kōmeitō establishes a Constitutional Research Group.
January 20 - Inaugural sessions of Diet Constitutional Research Groups in both Houses.
April 9 - Governor of Tokyo Ishihara Shintarō 石原慎太郎 bemoans the alleged increase in crime committed by 'foreigners' and calls for the deployment of Self-Defense Force to maintain order after earthquakes.
May 2 - Beate Sirota Gordon, author of article 24, testifies at the House of Councillors Constitutional Research Group.
May 3 - The Yomiuri Shinbun amends its 1994 draft for a revised constitution to include an article relating to the preservation of peace and order in emergency situations.
May 15 - Prime Minister Mori states that Japan is a "nation of kami under the Emperor" (Nihon wa tennō wo chūshin to suru kami no kuni 日本は天皇を中心とする神の国) at a meeting of the League of Shintō Parliamentarians (Shintō Seiji Renmei 新党政治連盟).
May 17 - In response to PM Mori Yoshiro's 森 喜朗 "nation of kami" remark, the Japan Conference of Religions for Peace (Nihon Shūkyōsha Heiwa Kaigi 日本宗教者平和会議) demands his resignation.
October 16 - Publication of the Armitage Report, "The United States and Japan: Advancing Toward a Mature Partnership," calling on Japan to establish emergency laws permitting the exercise of collective self-defense.
December 13 - Liberal Party publishes "Basic Principles for Creating a New Constitution," including provisions for Japan's participation in collective defense under the UN and continued support for the ideals of article 9; first document of its kind to be produced by one of the major parties.
December 22 - The Hashimoto faction of LDP produces a general draft plan for constitutional revision.
April 3 - The Ministry of Education authorizes the controversial middle school history textbook published by the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform (Tsukurukai つくる会).
April 5 - In a Yomiuri poll, 54% of respondents support constitutional revision (28% oppose); supporters of revision form the majority for the fourth year in a row.
April 26 - Mori cabinet resigns; Koizumi Jun'ichirō 小泉純一郎 becomes PM.
August 7 - The Tokyo Board of Education adopts the Tsukurukai's textbook for special schools.
August 13 - Koizumi visits Yasukuni Shrine for the first time as PM.
October 12 - Amidst Diet debates on anti-terrorism legislation, PM Koizumi states, "If I am asked whether the SDF has military capabilities or not, I would say that it does," effectively stepping beyond the current government interpretation of article 9, which forbids the maintenance of such capabilities.
October 25 - House of Representatives Constitutional Research Group discusses article 9. Both specialists invited by LDP and the Democrats call for revision, including provision for the exercise of collective defense.
October 29 - Anti-terrorism legislation passed by the Diet, including a provision allowing SDF support of U.S. military operations.
November 25 - Maritime SDF deployed in Indian Ocean to support U.S. military operations.
April 21 - Koizumi visits Yasukuni Shrine for the second time as PM.
April 28 - U.S. Under-secretary of State Richard Armitage discusses the prospects of war with Iraq with Japanese leaders.
July 9 -The Supreme Court rules that the expenditure of public money for Ōita Prefecture's 大分県 governor to participate in the imperial enthronement rites did not violate the constitution.
September 6 - The U.S. government requests that Japan provide refueling in the Indian Ocean in the event of war with Iraq.
November 1 - House of Representatives Constitutional Research Group submits an interim report, calling for constitutional revision in response to changing domestic and international circumstances.
December 10 - U.S. Under-secretary of State Richard Armitage tells Japanese government representatives that the U.S. government hopes Japan will assist in the post-war reconstruction of Iraq.
December 16 - An Aegis destroyer, Kirishima-maru, is deployed in the Indian Ocean in support of the U.S.-UK anti-terror campaign; first overseas deployment of a Japanese Aegis vessel.
January 14 - PM Koizumi's third visit to Yasukuni Shrine.
February 15 - Protest marches held in Japanese cities against U.S. threats of war against Iraq.
April 1 -Keidanren calls for constitutional revision and the restructuring of legal systems in areas including foreign policy, national security, and the rights and responsibilities of citizens.
June 6 - The Diet passes National Emergency Bill (yūji kanren hōan 有事関連法案).
July 26 - The SDF Iraq Bill becomes law, allowing the SDF to be sent to “non-combat zones” in Iraq to assist in reconstruction efforts.
September 26 - Merger of the Liberal Party (Jiyūtō 自由党) with the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ).
October 17 - U.S. President George W. Bush visits Tokyo and expresses gratitude for Japan’s contributions to the war in Iraq.
October 18 - Al-Jazeera network broadcasts a tape by Osama bin Laden naming Japan as a target for future Al Qaeda attacks.
November 29 - Japanese diplomat 奥克彦, his translator Inoue Masamori 井上正盛, and their Iraqi employee are murdered in Tikrit, Iraq.
December 29 - U.S. Ambassador to Japan, Howard H. Baker, encourages the Japanese government to dispatch the SDF to Iraq.
January 1 - PM Koizumi's fourth visit to Yasukuni Shrine.
January 13 - Chairman Kan Naoto 菅直人 of the Democratic Party calls for a gradual revision of the constitution that focuses on individual articles or issues at a time, instead of a one-time, general revision; also announces his party's plan to complete a draft constitution by 2006.
January 16 - SDF advance team arrives in Samawa, Iraq.
February 3 - Dispatch of SDF to Samawa, Iraq, in support of U.S.-led war.
March 19 - Acting Chairman Ozawa Ichirō of the Democratic Party publishes the "Basic Principles of Japanese National Security and International Cooperation," calling for Japanese involvement in multinational forces under UN auspices and the creation of a "UN Reserve Force," a civilian unit.
April 2 - Yomiuri poll: 65% of respondents support constitutional revision (highest percentage since the poll was first taken in 1981; 23% oppose). Revision supporters form a majority in every generation. Many identify the SDF and article 9 as their main priorities.
April 8 - Three Japanese civilians are taken hostage by armed insurgents near Falluja, who threaten to execute them unless the SDF withdraws from Iraq.
April 13 - In Tokyo U.S. Vice-President Richard Cheney praises Japan’s decision to deploy the SDF to Iraq.
April 15 - Release of three Japanese citizens previously taken hostage by Iraqi insurgents.
April 29 - In a speech before the American Enterprise Institute, LDP General Secretary Abe Shinzō 安部晋三 states that "Japan cannot maintain its national security under the current constitution."
May 22 - PM Koizumi visits DPRK and meets with General Secretary Kim Jong-Il, resulting in the release of five Japanese citizens previously abducted to DPRK.
May 26 - A lawsuit is filed against the Japanese government, claiming that the Iraq dispatch of the SDF violates the constitution by 219 plaintiffs in a Shizuoka court.
May 27 - Two Japanese journalists, Hashida Shinsuke 橋田信介 and Ogawa Kōtarō 小川功太郎, and their Iraqi translator are murdered by armed insurgents in a Baghdad suburb.
July 18 - Two Japanese citizens abducted to DPRK return to Japan with their children.
October 26-31 - A Japanese citizen, Kōda Shōsei 香田証生, is abducted and killed in Baghdad by armed insurgents.
November - U.S. Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs (1998-2000), Ambassador Rust Deming (Ambassador to Tunisia 2001-2003), writes of the prospects for Japanese constitutional revision that, “The most likely outcome is a compromise that will establish the right of collective self-defense, but at least initially, restrict its application….” In “Japan’s Constitution and Defense Policy: Entering a New Era?”
November 10 - A Chinese nuclear-powered submarine enters Japan’s territorial waters; a maritime security operations order issued.
November 11 - Nakasone Yasuhiro calls for an establishment of "National Defense Force" (Kokubōgun 国防軍) at the House of Representatives Constitutional Research Group.
November 17 - The LDP Constitutional Research Group publishes a draft proposal for constitutional reform, including provisions for female imperial succession and exercise of collective self-defense.
December 9 - The cabinet resolves to extend the SDF’s Iraq deployment by one year.
December 28 - SDF ships dispatched to Thailand’s Phuket Island, to assist in disaster relief following a massive tidal wave and earthquake.
January 4 - SDF units dispatched to Indonesia to assist in relief activities following a major earthquake and tidal wave.
January 18 - Keidanren produces a report advocating constitutional revision and proposing recognition of the SDF and exercise of collective self-defense: Nihon Keizai Dantai Rengōkai, “Waga kuni kihon mondai o kangaeru: Kore kara no Nihon o tenbō shite” (日本経済団体連合会、「我が国基本問題を考える：これからの日本を展望して」) at www.kendanren.or.jp.
January 20 - Former PM Nakasone's World Peace Research Institute publishes a draft constitution that provides for a creation of a "Self Defense Army" (Bōeigun 防衛軍) and gives greater authority to the PM.
March 29 - House of Representatives Constitutional Research Group passes the draft for its final report, with the support of LDP, Democrats, and Kōmeitō. The document reflects majority support for the recognition of SDF within the constitution and sets the direction for revision of article 9.
March 30 - House of Councillors Constitutional Research Group publishes its draft of the final report, which demands the continuation of a bicameral legislature. On article 9, the report only indicates the competing opinions regarding its revision without coming to any decision.
April 15 - House of Representatives Constitutional Research Group issues its final report.
April 25 - Democratic Party Constitutional Research Group publishes its draft proposal for constitutional revision, including a call for the establishment of the "right to self-defense" and provision for collective security measures under UN auspices.
June - LDP issues a draft of issues to be revised in the constitution, titled "Points of Discussion" (Ronten seiri 論点整理), advocating revision of article 9 and article 24, which upholds "the essential equality of the sexes" and also advocating a statement of the duty of the people to support the family.
June 1 - SDF dispatched to Indonesia to assist in disaster relief activities.
July 13 - Ōtawara City's 大田原市 Board of Education adopts Tsukurukai's textbook; first adoption at the level of municipality.
July 26 - The Advisory Council on Imperial Household Law (Kōshitsu Tenpan ni Kansuru Yūshikisha Kaigi 皇室典範に関する 有識者会議) reports its view that the law should be amended to permit female succession, based in part on public opinion polls showing overwhelming public support for the change
August 1 - LDP publishes its first draft constitution organized into articles. The draft deletes the prohibition of maintaining armament and provides for the creation of a Self-Defense Army (the Mori Draft).
August 29 - The Tokyo High Court rules against the plaintiffs who argued that PM Koizumi's visits to the Yasukuni Shrine violated the constitution; the court asserts that the visit was a personal matter. On the same day, the Osaka High Court rules that the visits were unconstitutional, arguing that they violated the separation of religion and state.
October 12 - SDF dispatched to Pakistan to assist in disaster relief following a massive earthquake.
October 17 - PM Koizumi's fifth visit to Yasukuni Shrine.
November 1 - DPJ backs revision of article 9.
November 24 - PM Koizumi's personal advisory committee on imperial succession submits a report, calling for the acceptance of female succession to the throne.
December 8 - The cabinet resolves to extend the SDF’s Iraq deployment by one year.
February 9 - SDF units dispatched to Indonesia to assist in relief activities following a major earthquake and tidal wave.
May 3 - Asahi Shinbun national opinion poll finds 60% favor constitutional revision.
August 15 - PM Koizumi visits Yasukuni Shrine on the surrender anniversary, sparking outrage in China and South Korea.
September 12 - Abe Shinzō predicts that constitutional revision will take five years.
December 15 - Revision of the Fundamental Law on Education (Kyōiku kihon hō 教育基本法).