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JAPAN TIMES GONE BY

by Edan Corkill

100 YEARS AGO

Friday, June 25, 1909

Formosan rising of aborigines

A telegram from Taipeh (present-day Taipei; Formosa is present-day Taiwan) dated June 23 states that the aboriginal villages of Shinohiku have been showing signs of disquiet. On the 17th, there were reports 12 men were killed near the aboriginal quarters. A party of government officials including Dr. Noro, an expert with the Government General, who were dispatched for investigation was attacked by the aborigines on the 11th, and after a fierce, desperate fight was able to retire to the safe zone. A policeman and two native police were injured in the engagement. Another constable is missing.

75 YEARS AGO

Monday, June 11, 1934

Japan to observe Time Day today

Today is Time Day throughout Japan, when everyone is supposed to keep their watches and clocks on exact time.

The movement started several years ago in order to increase the general efficiency of the public and to promote promptness. The Time Day Committee have organized a large group of persons to go on the streets today to propagate their ideas.

The leader of the movement is generally regarded as Mr. Hikosaburo Bando, the famous Kabuki actor. Mr. Bando has made it a practice to call at newspaper offices in Tokyo every Time Day and personally inspect clocks and watches on the premises.

He states he became an advocate of exact time after seeing several mix-ups at the theater due to clocks or watches not being synchronized and on exact time.

“If an actor in life has to be exactly on time, is it not even more important for others?” is the way Bando put it.

50 YEARS AGO

Thursday, June 11, 1959

400 guests attend museum opening

The newly built National Museum of Western Art housing the famous Matsukata Collection of French masterpieces was opened yesterday in an impressive ceremony attended by Japanese and French notables.

Among some 400 persons attending were Prince and Princes Takamatsu, Prime Minister Kishi, and Saburo Matsukata, managing director of Kyodo News Service and younger brother of Kojiro Matsukata. Also present were members of the seven-man French cultural mission who were invited to Japan for the occasion.

The opening of the three-story reinforced-concrete edifice came after eight years of negotiations between the Japanese and French governments for the return to Japan of the precious art objects collected in Europe 40 years ago by the late Kojiro Matsukata, wealthy industrialist and son of Count Masayoshi Matsukata, a famous politician of the Meiji Era. Talks on the return of the collection, seized by France at the start of World War II as alien property, were commenced in 1951.

The collection comprising 308 paintings and 63 sculptures by such masters as Renoir, Gauguin, Rodin, Delacroix and Cezanne, was finally returned to Japan in April. The museum will be opened to the general public from Saturday.

Work for the construction of the museum, designed by world renowned French architect Edouard le Corbusier, began in February last year. It was completed recently at a cost of ¥217,500,000.

25 YEARS AGO

Wednesday, June 6, 1984

Birth of NTT’s competitor

How can advanced telecommunications services covering a diverse spectrum of transmission modes be made available at reasonable prices while ensuring high-quality customer satisfaction? Japan’s traditional answer was to perform this task through the protected cultivation of a monolithic state-run entity. Yet this conservative policy has meant that innovations were often discouraged due to lack of competitiveness and the sheer bureaucratic weight of the monopoly organization. But Japan’s telecommunications scene, like that of the U.S., is finally changing.

In preparation for the long-heralded “liberalized domestic telecommunications environment,” scheduled to begin next April, a private competitor of the long-protected state monopoly, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Public Corp. (NTT), was established last week. This competitor, Daini Denden. Inc. (DDI), is expected to enter into “common carrier” businesses and thereby give consumers a choice of carriers. The establishment of this new information transmission firm is a landmark event in the history of Japanese telecommunications, and one which is late in arriving.

A total of 25 corporations are shareholders in DDI. Will it concentrate on those services, such as high-speed data communications (involving computers), which will be of immediate benefit to its corporate shareholders, or will it also address the needs of individual consumers? These questions and others will have to wait until DDI supplies more information about its perceived mission, which is currently under study.

Although the new telecommunications era is scheduled to arrive soon, it is not yet clear as to how the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications views its future mission: Will it be an active player in establishing rigid guidelines, or will it take a fairly liberal attitude and perhaps even allow NTT to suffer the mercies of the marketplace?

Many questions remain about the general parameters of the upcoming era of partially deregulated telecommunications services.