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The 1940 Olympics, decreased rice consumption results in improved health, nuclear power perceptions unchanged by Chernobyl

by Edan Corkill

75 YEARS AGO
Sunday, Aug. 2, 1936

Tokyo gets IOC nod for 1940 Olympics

All Japan is rejoicing today over the decision of the International Olympic Committee to award the 12th Olympic Games to the city of Tokyo. The vote was held in Berlin, where the 11th Olympic Games have just started.

Japan’s winning of the right to host the 1940 games is the realization of a dream that had its inception six years ago, when the then Mayor of Tokyo, Hidejiro Nagata, launched the official drive to this end.

It is supposed that the idea of staging the Olympics in the Empire’s capital was inspired by the announcement that the 2,600th anniversary of the accession of Emperor Jimmu and the founding of the Empire would be celebrated on a worldwide scale in Tokyo in 1940.

However, the anniversary has not played a contributory role in the IOC’s decision in Berlin, and the IOC chairman pointed out while in Tokyo earlier this year that the linking of the two events was undesirable from the committee’s point of view.

Nonetheless, their conjunction cannot but be favorably received throughout Japan, and add to the nation’s rejoicing. There is in reality no excuse not to celebrate as if a sudden gift had been dropped from the skies into the capital’s outstretched arms.

Count Henri Baillet-Latour, chairman of the IOC, on his arrival in this Empire in spring for the express purpose of investigating Tokyo’s facilities, declared that the games are truly international in scope and that he saw no reason why they should not be held in the Orient. To date, Asia has not been host to the Olympic Games, and neither in the eastern nor western part of this continent is there another city better equipped or more anxious to obtain them than is Tokyo.

Aside from the justice of awarding the games to Asia, the selection of Tokyo is appropriate because Japan stands as an almost unchallenged champion in modern sport among its sister nationals of the Asiatic group. This is true not only from the standpoint of its interest in and development of sports, but also from that of what this Empire has done in recent years toward the physical improvement of its own people and for affording them recreation.

While this will be a gigantic task requiring the keenest attention and hard work for the next four years, there is no reason to believe that it will not be carried through successfully. Athletic stadia must be enlarged or built afresh, rowing courses charted and prepared. Hotel facilities must likewise be made available, as there is a dearth of them in Tokyo now.

[The Japanese government withdrew its support from the 1940 Olympics in 1938 as the Sino-Japanese War escalated. The games were then given to Helsinki, which had placed second in the initial IOC vote, but they were eventually canceled due to the outbreak of World War II in 1939.]

50 YEARS AGO
Monday, Aug. 28, 1961

Less rice being eaten

The Japanese now eat less rice and the rate of diseases caused by over-consumption of rice is on the decline, according to a Welfare Ministry checkup.

The 1960 survey of the nutritive condition of the Japanese, conducted on some 40,000 persons picked for the purpose, showed that the trend to place over-emphasis on rice had declined somewhat, especially in agrarian communities. It noted, however, that the amount of vegetables being eaten was still insufficient.

The intake of nutrition by people in 1960 remained almost the same as in the preceding two or three years. By kind of food, however, the per capita amount of rice being taken decreased by 1.6 percent and that of barley by 15.3 percent. Wheat consumption increased by 2.2 percent.

The intake of animal-derived foods, such as meat and eggs, rose by 8.3 percent over the previous year, oils and fats by 5.2 percent and milk products by 15.4 percent.

The survey found that the rate of diseases caused by malnutrition had deteriorated notably. It found that one in every 4.7 persons was suffering from a disease during the year, while one in every 4.1 persons was ill in the preceding year.

25 YEARS AGO
Wednesday, Aug. 6, 1986

Chernobyl disaster ought to alter Japan’s N-power perception

Only months after the devastating Chernobyl nuclear accident in the Soviet Union, governmental groups here in Japan are advocating a stepped-up approach to the utilization of nuclear power.

The nuclear subcommittee of the Advisory Committee for Energy, a panel associated with the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, recently submitted a report calling for a doubling of Japan’s nuclear power in the next 45 years.

Governmental perspectives on nuclear power have, over the years, been very optimistic on the subject of construction of future reactors by the regional electric utility companies. Japanese electric utilities appear to be very concerned about the effects of earthquakes on nuclear plants, and have devised severe building codes and installed upgraded equipment. Still, there is no precise information on the way that the reactors will hold up in the strongest of tremors.

The recent report recommends that the private electric utility companies enhance their research and development (R&D) spending to promote the advancement of nuclear power. But these companies are reluctant to do so because the high costs are unlikely to be justified as a prudent way to improve investors’ gains.

If the Chernobyl accident has taught us anything, it should be that most anything can go wrong at nuclear plants, despite the warnings of experts to the contrary.

Would it not be wiser for Japan to channel its considerable R&D might into the development of new types of clean power-generation means, rather than adhere to the nuclear panacea? For the medium- and long-term future, there is no reason to remain fully committed to a dirty and potentially dangerous means of generating electricity.

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. This month’s feature was compiled with the assistance of Wade Bunnell.