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Double tragedy, questions about February 26 Incident, new ‘merry-go-round’ carpark, Prince Charles and Lady Di visit

by Edan Corkill

Staff Writer

100 YEARS AGO
Friday, May 5, 1911

Man’s suicide leads to another’s death

A middle-aged man was found dead in his room at the Koyo-kan Inn in Yodobashi (now West Shinjuku, Tokyo) Wednesday, apparently having committed suicide by cutting his throat with a short sword.

With the aid of clues furnished by his belongings, police identified him as Kiyoshi Hirose, in the employ of Akijiro Nakamura, a laundryman of Ushigome (Tokyo). The motive for the suicide is yet unknown. The body was handed over to the district office.

But this tragedy immediately led to another. When the Yodobashi district office was asked to take away the body, an official was dispatched on Wednesday morning accompanied by two servants. One of the latter, named Genshichi Kimura, seems to have been an inordinately thirsty soul, and he was tempted by the sight of a good-sized bottle among the articles left by the dead man. The temptation proved irresistible to Kimura and he emptied the contents down his throat in a single gulp. A half-hour later, he began to feel unusual pains in the stomach, which soon became agonizing.

A doctor was sent for, but in spite of careful treatment, the man died about midnight. It is said that an analysis showed the liquid contained bichloride of mercury and oxalic acid. It is supposed that the suicide had provided himself with this poisonous liquid in case the short sword should fail to do its work.

75 YEARS AGO
Tuesday, May 12, 1936

Baron rages over plot

The authorities’ inability to prevent the outbreak of the February 26 incident was severely criticized by Baron Yoshiro Sakatani at a plenary session of the House of Peers this morning. His criticisms were in response to the explanation of the incident delivered to the House on May 6 by War Minister Hisakazu Terauchi.

Baron Sakatani said, in part: “It is a great regret that the February 26 incident was not prevented before its outbreak. It happened at 5 a.m., but why did the Commander of the Division and the Metropolitan Police not know anything, even when more than 1,000 soldiers made such an activity so early in the morning?

“It is beyond understanding that in this capital, where the Imperial Palace and other important buildings exist, such developments could have taken place. It makes us feel uneasy that such a thing is possible. Newspapers report that the rebelling force occupied the General Staff Office, official residence of the Home Minister, the Metropolitan Police office, and other governmental sites — but what were the Vice-Chief of the General Staff, Home Minister and Chief of the Metropolitan Police doing at that time?

“It is shameful that in the recent incident, not a single official was willing to try to suppress it at the risk of his own life,” he continued. “What were the Home Minister and the Chief of the Metropolitan Police doing at this time? Although the Cabinet has now changed, I wish to know where the responsibility rests.”

Replying to the Baron, War Minister Terauchi said that it was extremely regrettable that the incident by the rebelling force could not have been prevented before it started. He also explained that the officers of the General Staff Office Tokyo Garrison and the Commander of the Imperial Guard Division had taken necessary measures at once, and martial law had been put into effect immediately. He expressed the hope that martial law would be removed as early as possible.

50 YEARS AGO
Saturday, May 20, 1961

‘Merry-go-round’ car park shown in Tokyo

A new vertical automobile device, called the Topark, was unveiled yesterday by the Toyota Motor Sales Co., of Tokyo, prior to its introduction in the local market.

Fit for crowded city areas, the merry-go-round-style parking tower is said to be capable of accommodating 20 cars on a small land tract 60 sq. meters in area.

Priced at about ¥25 million, the Topark is supposed to save much money and space, besides being simple to handle. It will be mass-produced by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kure Shipbuilding and Engineering Co. The former will use its own technology, while the latter will apply the know-how of the Wullschleger Co. of Switzerland in building the device.

Toyota Motor Sales, which is a sales subsidiary of Toyota Motor Co., said it had already received 68 orders from customers in three large cities in Japan for the Topark. The new parking towers are expected to sprout all over Japan from August.

25 YEARS AGO
Sunday, May 11, 1986

Prince Charles and Lady Diana arrive

Prince Charles and Princess Diana, who flew into Tokyo from Osaka after completing a two-day unofficial tour of the Kansai region, were officially welcomed in a ceremony on Saturday afternoon at the Akasaka State Guesthouse, where the royal couple are staying for the next three days. Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone and his wife, Tsutako, attended the ceremony.

The red carpet was rolled out and the band played to welcome the future king and queen of Britain, who arrived to a fanfare welcome at the Guesthouse at 4:30 p.m. after completing a tour of the ancient capital of Kyoto on Friday and factory visits in the Osaka area Saturday morning.

In a 15-minute ceremony starting with Britain’s national anthem, “God Save the Queen,” and followed by “Kimigayo,” Nakasone escorted the prince in a review of members of the Self-Defense Forces lined in front of the guesthouse.

Princess Diana wore a black-and-white two-piece suit with a string of pearls, a broad-brimmed hat and black pumps.

Following the ceremony, the royal couple entered the Guesthouse to attend a 45-minute reception.

On Saturday evening, Japan’s Crown Prince and Princess hosted a banquet in honor of the British royal couple.

In this feature, which appears in Timeout on the third Sunday of each month, we delve into The Japan Times’ 115-year-old archive to present a selection of stories from the past. Stories may be edited for brevity.