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Halley’s Comet, first international radio broadcast, tsunamis lash coastline, Japan tops creditor list

by Edan Corkill

100 YEARS AGO

Sunday, May 1, 1910

The Comet

Telegraphic reports about Halley’s Comet from several districts say:

In Shanghai the comet was sighted between 4 and 5 o’clock on the morning of the 29th of last month and was visible to the naked eye. The nucleus of the comet makes a diameter of 30,000 miles (48,000 km). The tail extends nearly 3 degrees, which makes a length of 1,800,000 miles (2,880,000 km). The distance of the comet from Earth was estimated at about 34,800,000 miles (55,680,000 km). The Kumamoto Observatory observed the comet at 3:50 a.m. on the 29th of last month.

Mr. David S. Spencer, of the Methodist Publishing House, has sent us the following letter:

Dear Sir, Any of your Tokyo readers who chose to take the trouble might have had a splendid view of Halley’s Comet this morning from 3:30 to 4 a.m. It could be clearly seen with the naked eye. Its position is perhaps 3 degrees North of the morning star Venus. It is well worth the trouble of seeing.

75 YEARS AGO

Sunday, May 12, 1935

International radio service to start

The Japan Broadcasting Association [forerunner of the Japan Broadcasting Corporation, or NHK] has decided to start a regular international broadcasting service from June 1 for an epoch-making event in Japan’s annals of radio broadcasting.

The projected service will begin at 10 a.m. every day and last for an hour. The program will consist of news announcements in English and Japanese and entertainment numbers characteristic of Japan, which will be broadcast to the outside world over a wavelength of 1400 kilocycles. The broadcasting will not be made for domestic listeners.

On the first day of broadcasting, Premier Admiral Keisuke Okada and Foreign Minister Koki Hirota will address the world, following which a military band will play. On the second day, popular singers Katsutaro, Ichimaru and Kiyozo will perform.

It is understood that the Broadcasting Association has earmarked $70,000 for the service this year. The new international broadcasting differs from similar attempts so far in that no other radio stations will be depended upon. The forwarding station at Nazaki [Ibaraki Prefecture] of the International Wireless Company will pick up the electric wave and forward it to America and Europe.

Mr. [Charles] Hisao Yoshii, 28, who was born in America, has been employed to make news announcements in English.

50 YEARS AGO

Wednesday, May 25, 1960

Tidal waves hit coast; 101 dead

At least 100 persons were reported killed, 82 others were missing and more than 854 were injured in tidal waves triggered by the Chilean earthquakes which lashed the Pacific coast of the Japanese islands yesterday morning.

Casualty figures were expected to mount as broken communications lines are repaired.

A total of 1,680 houses were destroyed, 1,934 were damaged, 1,473 were washed away and 43,127 were inundated throughout the country as a result of the tidal waves, the Police Agency reported as of 5 p.m. yesterday.

According to police tabulations, 64 sections of road were destroyed and 33 bridges were washed away.

The first high wave struck Kushiro in Hokkaido at 10 p.m. Monday. Various areas along the Pacific coast began to feel the full impact of the tidal waves starting around 4 a.m. yesterday.

In Hachinohe, Aomori Prefecture, the industrial area was flooded. The No. 2 municipal fish market was severely damaged and is not expected to be usable until August.

Six-meter-high waves were reported to have lashed Kuji City in Iwate Prefecture. Elsewhere, the waves ranged from 2 to 4 meters in size.

The Defense Agency dispatched 4,000 members of the Ground Self-Defense Force to Hachinohe and other northeastern districts yesterday morning to provide communications, transportation and relief for sufferers.

The U.S. Air Force at Misawa, Aomori Prefecture, flew two C-48s to carry relief goods to Iwate and Miyagi prefectures.

25 YEARS AGO

Wednesday, May 8, 1985

Japan becomes top first-world creditor

Japan become the largest net creditor in the developed world at the end of last year, government officials said Tuesday.

The officials said Japan’s net external assets — external assets minus external liabillities — are believed to have surpassed $60 billion as of last Dec. 31, up sharply from $37.3 billion for Dec. 31, 1983.

Japan earned a massive amount of foreign currency last year because of its brisk exports. It then invested much of the money overseas, thus increasing its external assets.

A net debtor until the end of 1968, Japan has now overtaken the United States as the largest creditor among the developed countries. The U.S., which is expected to become a net debtor toward the end of this year, registred $106 billion of net external assets at the end of 1983.

Finance Ministry officals believe that the sharp increase in Japan’s net external assets will help to reverse the yen’s depreciation against the U.S. dollar.

But at the same time, they warned of the possibillity that Japan may be pressed further to expand domestic demand and increase imports to reduce its huge trade surplus, a record $37 billion in fiscal 1984, which ended March 31.

In this feature, which appears in Timeout on the third Sunday of each month, along with our regular selection of Week 3 stories, we delve into The Japan Times’ 113-year-old archive to present a selection of stories from the past. Stories may be edited for brevity.