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Anniversary of Korean annexation, “harakiri” row halts Diet, Socialist Party-China communique, Kyoto Journal debuts

by Edan Corkill

Staff Writer

100 YEARS AGO
Sunday, Jan. 7, 1912

One-year anniversary of Korea annexation

Probably no year in the last decade or so has passed so quietly in Korea as did 1911. And the best part was that the tranquility was not that of gagged silence under drastic repression, but a tranquility with every evidence of contentment and progress.

We have before us a compendium of statistics just issued by the Government General of Chosen [Korea].

The population of Chosen stood at 13,299,699 at the end of December 1909, divided into 13,115,449 Koreans, 171,543 Japanese and 12,707 foreigners. The Japanese population increased more than tenfold in 10 years; 1899′s figure being 15,829. This is a fact of uncommon importance because it means a rapid and steady instillation of new commercial and industrial activity into the life of the country, a circumstance from which the Koreans must have benefited largely, and the formal annexation has further stimulated this favorable trend.

Steady development of the country’s commerce and industries can be seen in its export and import trade. The sum total of the values of these in 1910 was ¥59,696,599. In 1909 it was ¥52,897,658.

But perhaps the most important agency in accelerating the all-round development and also the dissemination of civilizing influences is the railway. In 1911, there was a total of 675 miles [1,086 km] operational in the Seoul-Fusan and Seoul-Wiju lines. In 1909 it was just 640.5 miles [1,032 km].

We may go on quoting statistics; but their showing is all in one direction — growth and progress, and those we have already given seem to be sufficiently conclusive.

75 YEARS AGO
Saturday, Jan. 23, 1937

‘Harakiri’ row over Army halts the Diet

The Cabinet of Prime Minister Baron Koki Hirota was faced this morning with the gravest crisis since its formation [in March 1936]. Its resignation en bloc or the dissolution of the Diet were regarded by close political observers as the only way out of the impasse brought about on Thursday as a result of the frontal clash between Kunimatsu Hamada, former speaker of the House, and War Minister Count Hisakazu Terauchi which resulted in the proroguing of the Diet for two days.

War Minister Terauchi said that Hamada had made utterances that implied insult to the Army, but the leader of the [opposition party] Seiyukai replied that he did not insult the Army and said he would “commit harakiri” if it was found he did. He added that the War Minister “should commit harakiri” if his accusations proved false.

Because of the acute situation, Premier Hirota called a conference of State Ministers and agreed to request the Emperor to suspend the Diet for two days so steps could be planned to rectify the situation.

Editor’s note: After the February 26 Incident of 1936, an attempted coup by disgruntled army officers, then-Foreign Minister Hirota formed a government but was forced to revive a policy by which only serving officers could be War Minister. Gen. Hisaakazu Terauchi assumed that position and, on Jan. 21, 1937, the altercation reported above took place after Terauchi was riled by Hamada’s suggestion to the Diet that the army wished to create a dictatorship. Terauchi later demanded the dissolution of Hirota’s government, saying party politicians didn’t understand the seriousness of the “international situation.” As a result, Hirota resigned and, by Feb. 2, a new government had been formed under a former army commander, Senjuro Hayashi.

50 YEARS AGO
Wednesday, Jan. 17, 1962

Socialist mission back from Peiping

Mosaburo Suzuki, leader of the Japan Socialist Party’s mission to Peiping, returned to Tokyo last night denouncing “American imperialism” and appealing for closer ties with Communist China.

In an airport interview under heavy police protection to prevent a possible rightist attack, Suzuki declared that “no other mission to mainland China had ever discussed with more sincerity and zeal all problems pending between Japan and the Communist regime.

The seven-man JSP mission has caused controversy by signing a joint communique with Peiping condemning “American imperialism as a menace to the peoples of the world.” But Suzuki said, “We are not referring to peace-loving American people.”

He said the JSP did not want to impair the “Asanuma spirit” — a reference to the 1959 statement by then-JSP leader Inejiro Asanuma that “American imperialism was the common enemy of Japan and Communist China.” Asanuma was assassinated by a rightist youth on Oct. 12, 1960.

On Saturday, Shigesaburo Maeo of the ruling Liberal-Democratic Party said that the communique is filled with Communist “deception and self-righteousness.”

25 YEARS AGO
Tuesday, Jan. 6, 1987

Kyoto Journal debuts

An English quarterly magazine intended to convey Japanese culture through the eyes of foreigners has been inaugurated in Kyoto.

The first issue of Kyoto Journal, published by Heian Bunka Center of Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, hit the stands on Dec. 5.

John Einarsen, 33, editor in chief, said that although there are quite a few English magazines in Japan, they often just boast their quantity of information and their articles lack depth. He said his magazine would delve into the depths of Japanese culture through the eyes of foreigners who look at Japanese culture “from the inside.”

In the 64-page issue, an MIT assistant writes about preservation of old streets and buildings in Kyoto, and a U.S. tea-ceremony master writes about the history of tea.

In this feature in Timeout on the third Sunday of each month, we delve into The Japan Times’ 116-year-old archive to present a selection of stories from the past. Stories may be edited for brevity.