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Japan annexes Korea, apology accepted after 600 years, Osamu Tezuka’s first full-length animation

by Edan Corkill

100 YEARS AGO

Sunday, Aug. 28, 1910

Korea annexation

We are reliably informed that the Treaty of Union between Japan and Korea was signed on the 22nd, and that its principal features are as follows:

1. The Emperor of Korea transfers absolutely and entirely the sovereign rights of Korea to the Emperor of Japan, in consideration whereof he receives for himself and his heirs from the Japanese Government a fixed annual income.

2. Korea will henceforth resume its old name of Chosen.

3. The Emperor of Korea shall assume the title of the Royal Prince Yi (Ri Wo); the Retired Emperor that of the Royal Great Prince Yi (Ri Tai-wo); and the Crown Prince that of Royal Heir Apparent (Wo Sei-shi).

4. A few of the members of the Korean Imperial Family shall receive treatment similar to that which is accorded to the Imperial Princes of Japan.

5. A new Korean Peerage Law will be proclaimed, and the members of the Korean Imperial Family other than those already referred to, and also Koreans of great national merits, will be created Korean peers.

As to the administrative machinery of Korea, a Governor-General of Korea will be newly appointed; but for the time being, the Resident-General will act as Governor- General. The Governor-General will be vested with power to proclaim laws and regulations for Korea. All the government offices in existence will remain as they are for the present.

Concerning the Customs arrangement, Japanese goods entering Korea as well as Korean exports to Japan will henceforth be called ishutsu-butsu (transported goods), but they shall be subject to the Customs and duties in force now.

Last but not least, the Emperor of Japan, on the occasion of the proclamation of union, will grant a reduction of taxes in Korea.

75 YEARS AGO

Wednesday, Aug. 14, 1935

Apology for slight 600 years ago

To offer apologies for an unkindly act committed by their ancestors 600 years ago, the people of Ayukawa, a village in Wakayama Prefecture, will offer mochi (dumplings of glutinous rice) to the Kamakuragu Shrine in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, dedicated to the memory of Prince Morinaga on Aug. 19, when the 600th anniversary of the prince’s death will be celebrated.

Defeated in his battle against rebels, Prince Morinaga with a few retainers was obliged to hide, and on Oct. 15, 1331, he passed through the village of Ayukawa. The prince and his party were fatigued and hungry, having eaten nothing the whole day. At the houses of the villagers they asked for some food, but they were refused because of the disturbed state of affairs at that time.

Soon after that, the villagers learned that the person to whom they refused to give mochi was Prince Morinaga. Such a discourteous act toward an Imperial Prince was something that the villagers could not think of. So to atone for their wrong, they resolved not to make and eat mochi forever. Thus for more than 600 years the village people never made mochi even on New Year’s Day.

This year the villagers have finally decided to make mochi on the occasion of the 600th anniversary of the prince’s death — and to offer them in his memory at the Kamakuraga Shrine.

50 YEARS AGO

Thursday, Aug. 18, 1960

Third full-length cartoon feature

“Saiyuki” (“Journey to the West”) is Japan’s third full-length cartoon feature; all have been made by Toei and one of the previous films, “Haku Ja Den” (“The White-snake Enchantress”), received considerable approval.

“Saiyuki,” like “Haku Ja Den,” is based on a Chinese legend. It takes place in China and in various infernal regions; its colors are pale and watery tinted, rather like Chinese scroll paintings. At best the drawings are delicate and charming, at worst Disneyish and comic-bookish. Much, much too much, happens in the film — but evidently the original story is very complicated too.

A little monkey boy, Goku, is persuaded by his little girl monkey sweetheart, Din-Din, to jump off a precipice into a waterfall. There is a land underneath the water, and any monkey brave enough to jump to it through the waterfall will be acknowledged as king and hero. Goku does it and by virtue of this literal “breaking through” becomes king.

He then spends five years in a mountain retreat where he trains under a seer and acquires 72 kinds of magic, a magic wand and a magic cloud to ride on. With all these tricks you would think he would never have difficulties, but he does.

He is asked by the Buddha to accompany a priest on a trip west to a land that might be heaven. On the way they meet with all sorts of difficulties. His adventure is a kind of journey of the soul.

At one point, when Goku becomes altogether too brash, the Buddha takes away his powers and shuts him up under a mountain, from which Din-Din rescues him. At length he reaches the Western Land, returns home and marries Din-Din.

Although I am not very enthusiastic about the artistic style of the cartoon, it is at least neither as cloying nor as violent as Disney films tend to be. And the legend itself is fascinating. The cartoon is playing now at all Toei theaters. (Mary Evans)

["Saiyuki" was the first full-length animation film directed by the legendary manga artist and animator Osamu Tezuka (1928-89), who in the 1960s created the "Tetsuwan Atomu" ("Astro Boy") series.]

In this feature, which appears in Timeout on the third Sunday of each month, 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.