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Death before dishonor, more rights for Ainu, J.F.K. elected, Swatches hit Japan

by Edan Corkill

100 YEARS AGO

Death chosen before dishonor

Wednesday, Nov. 23, 1910

Waka Kato, a handsome girl, living in a house owned by Hanshichi Nakagawa in Aoyama, attempted suicide on Sunday afternoon with Shunji Noda, a young medical student, with whom she had kept up conjugal relations, by taking a strong drug. She died early next morning while the man survives. It is reported that Hanshichi and his wife, Tatsu, who knew of the poor standing of Noda, had resolved between themselves to send Waka to Dairen for immoral purposes. On hearing this the girl was aghast but, no good thoughts having come into her mind, she decided to end her life after having persuaded her lover to do the same. Waka was the younger sister of Hanshichi’s wife.

75 YEARS AGO

Ainu rights set to be updated

Thursday, Nov. 21, 1935

As a positive measure for the protection of the Ainu race, the Home Office has decided to revise the current Hokkaido native protection regulations, it is understood. The regulations in question were promulgated in 1898, and are not adapted to the times. The main points of the revision are as follows:

In order to abolish the distinctive education system between the Japanese and Ainu children, Japanese primary schools shall be open to Ainu children.

Though up to the present the occupation of the Ainu has been limited to agriculture, he shall hereafter be allowed freedom to exercise any occupation he cares to.

The Ainu shall hereafter be legally allowed the freedom to exercise the right of land-ownership with permission of the Hokkaido Government, though he has hitherto been denied various rights on land, such as the right of lease and surface rights.

50 YEARS AGO

The U.S. election

Thursday, Nov. 10, 1960

The spectacular triumph of Mr. John Kennedy in the United States presidential election was perhaps the result of a widespread desire among the American people for a change at the very top.

Mr. Kennedy’s opponent, Mr. Richard Nixon, not only held the advantage of already being Vice President, but he also had the vigorous backing of President Eisenhower, yet the American people gave their verdict for the newcomer.

With Mr. Kennedy in the White House, there will doubtless be an opportunity for new ideas to enter into policy-making, but whether these will cure the international tensions is doubtful. It takes two parties to find this solution, and we don’t think the Eisenhower Administration could have done much more than it has done to find the answer to the “Cold War.” It is the intransigence of the Communist bloc that has been the great stumbling block.

In one respect the victory of Mr. Kennedy breaks all precedents. He is the first Roman Catholic to be elected President of the Unites States. Although we do not think religion played a vital part in this election, it may be said that only a few years ago it would have been unthinkable that anyone professing the Roman Catholic faith could have attained to the highest office in the nation. In this, as in much else, America has changed. Mr. Kennedy has made it clear that his religion will not stand in the way of his performing his duties with fairness.

At this distance, it has seemed all along that the differences between the two great parties in the United States do not go very deep and therefore that the election was fought largely on personal issues.

In reply to Mr. Nixon’s charge that he would not uphold the U.S. firmly against the Kremlin, Mr. Kennedy said the issue was not who could “best stand up to Mr. Khrushchev” or who could best swap threats and insults. The real issue was who could summon America’s vast resources to the defense of freedom, he said.

In this shrunken world, U.S. policies affect the lives of people the world over. The American people have chosen a man new to executive power and our hope is that their choice will prove a wise one.

25 YEARS AGO

Swatch takes on Japanese market

Thursday, Nov. 21, 1985

“Swatch,” the inexpensive quartz watch that has been an overnight success in other countries, will be launched in Japan this week, the company announced Tuesday.

Swatch is the Swiss answer to the Japanese challenge that dealt a heavy blow to the once dominant Swiss watchmaking industry in the 1970s, Swatch S.A. Chairman Ernst Thomke said at a press conference in Tokyo.

“We learned from the Japanese manufacturers that the cost of a product is very important for marketing,” he said. “We decided to come into this country to compete against our teachers.”

Since its introduction in Switzerland in March 1983, 11 million Swatches have been sold in 16 countries including the United States and most of Western Europe.

While Swatch first drew attention as the first Swiss-made low-priced watch, much of its subsequent success has been a result of the company’s unusual marketing strategy. “Swatch is not a watch,” company president Ernst Marquardt said. “It’s a fashion accessory that happens to tell the time.”

Every six months, 22 to 24 new watch designs are introduced to keep up with current fashion trends. Swatch Japan K.K., capitalized at ¥20 million, will introduce 22 fall and winter models, all at ¥7,000, at seven Tokyo and Yokohama department stores on Saturday.

In this feature, which appears in Timeout on the third Sunday of each month, we delve into The Japan Times’ 114-year-old archive to present a selection of stories from the past. Stories may be edited for brevity.