What important events happened in 2002

A look back at 30 years of the Heisei period | Part 2: 2002-2019

Part 1: 1989-2001

June 2002: Football World Cup

From May 31 to June 30, South Korea and Japan hosted the FIFA World Cup. Japan was eliminated in the round of 16. Germany reached the final round, but could not prevail against Brazil.

September 2006: Birth of Prince Hisahito

On September 6th, Prince Hisahito was born as the youngest child and first son of Naruhito's younger brother, Prince Fumihito, and his wife Kiko. According to Article 1 of the Imperial Household Act, only male descendants of the Imperial line can ascend to the throne. Prince Hisahito is therefore third in line to the throne after his father and Crown Prince Naruhito.

May 2009: First application of the lay judge system

In 2009 the lay judge system was first used as part of a reform of the Japanese judiciary. In the system randomly selected lay judges together with professional judges judge the guilt of the accused. The background to the reform was to take into account different societal perspectives on a lawsuit and to strengthen the population's awareness of the judiciary.

September 2009: Hatoyama Cabinet was launched

In August 2009 the Democratic Party (DP) won the general election. As prime minister, Hatoyama Yukio formed a government coalition without the LDP. Great expectations were placed on the new administration, but it only ruled until 2012.

March 2011: The triple disaster of Tōhoku in 2011

On March 11, 2011, a severe earthquake with a magnitude of 9.0 occurred on the Pacific coast of the Tōhoku region. The quake was followed by more severe tremors and the largest tsunami in Japan since records began. The regions of Tōhoku and Kantō were affected by severe damage from the earthquake and tsunami. The Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant was damaged as a result of the tremors and the force of the tsunami, which led to the release of considerable amounts of radioactive material. In the history of post-war Japan, no other natural disaster caused as much damage as the triple disaster. According to the national police agency, the 2018 death toll was 15,595 in twelve affected prefectures, including Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima. 2,539 people are still missing today.

July 2011: Japan becomes women's soccer world champion

In the final of the women's soccer world championship in Frankfurt am Main, Japan prevailed against the USA. They drew 2-2 in extra time, but the Japanese team won 3-1 on penalties. It was the first world championship title that the team took home when they took part in a World Cup for the 6th time.

December 2012: Introduction of the second Abe cabinet

Prime Minister Abe Shinzō is aiming for an economic upswing with his "Abenomics" strategy. Stock prices go up, big company profits improve, and salaries go up. But small and medium-sized companies are losing touch and the increased income has not yet adequately revitalized the economy. On the other hand, financial burdens such as social security contributions are increased. In 2019, the government is planning to increase VAT to 10% and, among other things, want to ensure that children are raised free of charge.

July 2014: Reform of collective self-defense

The Abe cabinet reinterpreted the constitution and redacted the right to collective self-defense. Article 9 previously stated the restriction / prohibition of military activities.

June 2016: Right to vote from the age of 18

Japanese citizens who have reached the age of 18 have had the right to vote since 2016. In 1945 the right to vote was changed from “men over 25” to “men and women over 20”.

July 2016: Koike Yuriko becomes governor of Tōkyōs

Former Defense Minister Abes was elected governor of Tōkyō after her retirement from national politics in 2016. She is the first woman to hold office.

August 2016: Annunciation of the abdication

In a video message, Tennō Akihito announced his wish to abdicate, as his advanced age made it difficult for him to serve as head of state. In June 2017, a corresponding law was introduced that allows abdication during the lifetime of the Tennō.


This article was written by Kei Okishima for the January 2019 issue of JAPANDIGEST and edited for publication on the website.