2020 Japan and the World in Review: January 2020 Timeline

A summary of important events in Japan and the world in January 2020.

January overview:

  • Japan issues an arrest warrant for Carlos Ghosn (Jan 2nd)
  • China officially notifies the World Health Organization (WHO) of an outbreak
  • Coronavirus cases start to appear outside China
  • Aftermath of the Sagamihara stabbings
  • Japan reports its first coronavirus case (Jan 16th)
  • Japan reports first domestic transmission of the coronavirus (Jan 28th)
  • The WHO declares a “global emergency”, a rare designation that helps the international agency mobilize financial and political support to contain the pandemic. (Jan 30th)
  • The United Kingdom withdraws from the EU (Jan 31st)
  • Snapshot of COVID-19 cases on January 26th in Tokyo: 7-day moving average of people testing positive is 0.3 persons.


Early January

Around the world:

— Unprecedented bushfires, which flared significantly in November 2019, continue to burn in Australia in January.

— Large-scale protests in Hong Kong.

January 1

— The seafood market (Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market) that was identified as a suspected center of the coronavirus outbreak is closed.

— The 2019 Emperor’s Cup Final is played. This is the inaugural event at the Japan National Stadium (completed in November 2019 and built to serve as the main stadium for the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as the venue for track and field athletics events at the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics in 2021).

January 2

— Lebanese justice minister says he has received an arrest warrant from Interpol against former Chairman of Nissan, Carlos Ghosn, who escaped house arrest in Japan and fled to Lebanon days ago.

January 3

— China officially notifies the WHO of an outbreak.

January 5

— Japan says it will tighten immigration measures after the escape of former Chairman of Nissan Carlos Ghosn from the country. The Japanese government condemns Ghosn’s escape as “unjustifiable”.

— After the United States kills Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in the 2020 Baghdad International Airport airstrike, Iran’s parliament votes to exit the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal with world powers. This comes after the United States unilaterally withdrew in 2018.

January 7

— Japan issues an arrest warrant for former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn’s wife Carole for allegedly lying during testimony.

— Aftermath of the Sagamihara stabbings. The trial of Satoshi Uematsu, a young Japanese man who admitted to stabbing 19 disabled people to death at a care center in 2016, begins. The rampage ranks among the country’s worst mass killings. His lawyer is expected to enter a plea of not guilty on grounds of diminished capacity. Uematsu will be handed a sentence on March 16 and could receive the death penalty.

January 9

–The United Kingdom House of Commons votes 330–231 to pass the Withdrawal Agreement Bill authorizing the country’s departure from the European Union at the end of the month.

January 12

— Japanese PM Shinzō Abe arrives in Saudi Arabia in his first visit to the Middle East, where he expects to mediate between the United States and Iran amid heightening tensions.

January 14

— Wuhan implements screening measures for travelers leaving the city at airports, railway stations, and other passenger terminals.

January 15

— Japan-North Korea relations. North Korean state media condemn Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe for his attempts to reform the pacifist Japanese constitution. The state media say that “in the event of a constitutional revision, which gives [Japan’s] self-defense forces legitimacy, the Japanese reactionaries will have all the preconditions necessary to realize military aggression overseas”.

January 16

— Japan reports its first coronavirus case, a man in his mid-thirties who did not visit the seafood market.

— After his escape from Japan, Carlos Ghosn’s Japanese lawyer Junichiro Hironaka and seven other members of his defense resign. Hironaka says Ghosn’s escape was a “complete surprise”.

January 20

— South Korea confirms its first coronavirus case.

— China confirms fourth death, an eighty-nine-year-old man.

January 21

— United States confirms its first case in Washington state, a man who traveled to the Wuhan area.

— Chinese state media raises number of confirmed cases to 291 and confirms 15 medical workers in Wuhan have been diagnosed with pneumonia.

— Hong Kong confirms its first case, a person in their thirties.

— Taiwan confirms its first case, a woman in her fifties.

January 22

— WHO meets to discuss whether to declare the outbreak an international health emergency.

— Chinese authorities quarantine the entire city of Wuhan to prevent the further spread of the novel coronavirus as the death toll rises to 17. Nobody in the city will be able to leave starting from 10 a.m. local time on January 23, and all public transport in the city is suspended.

— The United States Senate hears opening statements in the impeachment trial of Donald Trump.

— The European Union Withdrawal Agreement Bill passes the House of Lords and is now awaiting royal assent to become law, finalizing the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union on 31 January 2020.

January 23

— WHO meets again and decides not to declare the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).

— The death toll from the new coronavirus rises to 25 and 830 confirmed cases in China as four more Chinese cities, Huanggang, Ezhou, Chibi and Zhijiang are to be placed under quarantine. The total number of people under quarantine is now over 20 million people.

— Singapore confirms its first case of new coronavirus, a 66-year-old Chinese man from Wuhan who was traveling with his family.

— The European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 is given royal assent in the United Kingdom, formally making the bill law.

January 24

— Vietnam confirms its first coronavirus case.

— France confirms its first and second cases.

— Wuhan construction crews are working on two hospitals to treat patients of the outbreak; the first is to be completed on
February 3 and the second in early February.

January 25

— Australia confirms its first coronavirus case.

— Canada confirms its first case.

— First medical professional who had treated people with the coronavirus dies from the virus.

January 26

— Germany confirms its first coronavirus case.

— First date for which data is available on the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s COVID-19 information website. January 26th 7-day moving average for Tokyo is equal to 0.3 persons.

January 27

— In response to an explosion of cases of the novel coronavirus, the Chinese government bans the sale of tour packages from January 27, resulting in a huge drop in the number of Chinese traveling overseas, including to Japan. As the announcement came late in the month, the decrease in group tours had little effect on visitor figures for January, but experts anticipate a steep decline in the February total, putting the Japanese government’s target of 40 million international visitors in 2020 in doubt.

January 28

— Japan reports first domestic transmission of coronavirus, one of the new cases was that of a bus driver who had driven two groups of Chinese tourists visiting Japan from Wuhan earlier this month.

— Japan and the United States evacuate their nationals from Wuhan.

— U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unveil a peace plan developed by the Trump administration for three years. The plan recognizes Israeli sovereignty over major settlement blocs in the occupied West Bank, as well as the annexation of the Jordan Valley, in exchange for a freeze on new Israeli settlements in certain areas for four years. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas dismisses the plan as “nonsense”, while Israeli opposition leader Benny Gantz casts his support for the plan.

January 29

— Several other airlines in North America, Europe, and Asia suspend flights to China.

— Japan’s Real Estate Economic Institute releases its 2019 report on the new condominium report for the greater Tokyo metropolitan area, indicating that average price of a new apartment sold in the greater Tokyo area hit a 29-year high of ¥59,800,000 ($545,000) in 2019.

January 30

— Two cases of novel coronavirus are confirmed in Italy after two Chinese tourists are recovered in Rome.

— The World Health Organization declares a “global emergency”, a rare designation that helps the international agency mobilize financial and political support to contain the pandemic.

— Japanese prosecutors issue arrest warrants against a former United States special operations forces soldier and two others for allegedly helping Carlos Ghosn to escape from Japan. Another arrest warrant was issued against Ghosn himself.

January 31

— Russia confirms its first case.

— Italy confirms its first case.

— United Kingdom confirms its first case.

— Singapore announces sweeping ban on Chinese visitors and all those who had visited China within the past fourteen days.

— The Department of Health and Human Services declares the coronavirus a public health emergency in the United States.

— The number of confirmed coronavirus cases rises to 9,782 in mainland China, bringing the global total to almost 10,000 cases with at least 213 deaths.

— The United Kingdom formally withdraws from the European Union at 23:00 GMT.

— As investors grow increasingly worried about the economic impact of the coronavirus, the Dow drops 603.41 points, or 2.1%, to 28,256.03 in the 30-stock average’s worst day since August 2019. The S&P 500 had its worst day since October,
falling 1.8% to 3,225.52.

— Japanese stocks closed higher as the Nikkei 225 rose 0.99% to 23,205.18. The Japanese yen traded at 109.04 per dollar after weakening from levels below 108.8 yesterday.

February 2020 Timeline: Important events in Japan in February 2020


Thinkglobalhealth.org updated timeline of the coronavirus

Wikipedia current events January 2020

Wikipedia Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics

— CNBC, “Asia stocks mixed as coronavirus concerns continue to weigh on investor sentiment,” January 31, 2020

— CNBC, “Friday’s massive sell-off ruins ‘January barometer’ market signal,” January 31, 2020

— Nippon.com, “Foreign Visitors to Japan Continue Downward Trend in January,” February 21, 2020

Tokyo Metropolitan Government COVID-19 Information Website

Lead photo: Carlos Ghosn visiting Norway, photo by Norsk Elbilforening via Flickr, taken 8 April 2013