The era of Heisei -- meaning "achieving peace" -- was a period of peace in Japan, but it will also be remembered as an era of devastating natural disasters and economic stagnation that led to widening wealth gaps.

Amid the sense of insecurity stemming from disasters and crimes as well as an uncertain outlook for the country's economy, sports played a role in encouraging Japanese nationals.

Here is a photo collection of major events in Japan during the latter half of the Heisei Era.

  • 2000

(Newly issued 2,000-yen banknote to commemorate the Group of Eight summit in Okinawa.)

  • 2001

(Princess Aiko, the only child of Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako, was born in December.)

  • 2002

(Japan and South Korea jointly host FIFA World Cup in May.)

(Five Japanese abducted by North Korea return to Japan in October.)

  • 2003

(Toshio Suzuki (R), the producer of "Spirited Away," speaks to reporters in March after the film won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film.)

  • 2004

(Japanese fans await the arrival of Bae Yong Joon, who played a principal role in South Korean drama series "Winter Sonata," at Tokyo's Haneda airport in April.)

  • 2005

(A rapid commuter train cars derails in Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture, killing 106 passengers and the train driver in April.)

  • 2006

(Shizuka Arakawa wins gold in the women's figure skating at the Turin Olympics in February.)

  • 2007

("Hatsune Miku," a computer-generated idol singer, goes on sale in August.)
[Photo courtesy of Crypton Future Media, Inc.]

  • 2008

(Crowds and emergency services personnel gather at the site of a stabbing rampage in Tokyo's Akihabara district in June.)

(Japanese swimmer Kosuke Kitajima wins his second straight Olympic title in the men's 100-meter breaststroke at the Beijing Games in August.)

  • 2009

(Haruki Murakami's "1Q84" is published in May.)

  • 2010

(Light cast by Japanese space probe Hayabusa on its return to Earth from an asteroid in June.)

  • 2011

(Massive tsunami waves triggered by a major earthquake in northeastern Japan engulf houses in Natori, Miyagi Prefecture, in March.)

  • 2012

(Shinya Yamanaka recieves Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for the discovery that cells could be reprogrammed into iPS cells.)

  • 2013

(Tokyo wins bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympics in September.)

  • 2014

(A supermarket worker replaces a price tag before Japan last raised the consumption tax rate to 8 percent from 5 percent in April.)

  • 2015

(Japan pulls off their victory over powerhouse South Africa in the Rugby World Cup in England in October.)

  • 2016

(U.S. President Barack Obama visits Hiroshima in May)

(Emperor Akihito gives a video message in August indicating his wish to abdicate)

  • 2017

(A man was arrested on suspicion of disposing one of the nine bodies discovered at his home in October.)

  • 2018

(Naomi Osaka wins a Grand Slam singles title in September.)

(Pop singer and fashion icon Namie Amuro retires from showbiz in September.)

(A screen in Tokyo's Akihabara district on Nov. 20 shows Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn who was arrested the previous day.)

  • 2019

(Seattle Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki waves to the media after a press conference announcing his retirement in March.)

(Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga announces the name of Japan's new era, Reiwa, in April.)

>>IN PHOTOS: Look back over Japan's Heisei era (1/2) 1989-1999