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Chinese emperor abdicates, Italians to preserve hara-kiri site, Tokyo’s population hits 10 million, Japan supports space station

by Edan Corkill

Staff Writer

100 YEARS AGO
Wednesday, Feb. 14, 1912

Chinese Emperor abdicates

The abdication of the Emperor of China, daily expected for a week, has at last taken place. The Emperor, in his decree issued on the 12th, narrates the steps which led up to the present crisis — the uprising of the revolutionary armies, the peace conference at Shanghai, the delay in the negotiations, and the consequent great uneasiness of mind prevailing among the people. But since it has become increasingly manifest that throughout middle and south China, as well as in the provinces of the north, the people are in favor of a republican regime, the Emperor decided to acquiesce in the opinion of the millions. The Emperor has designated Yuan Shikai to organize a Provisional Republican Government and to negotiate with the southern leaders to bring about the unification of the country.

The decree is supplemented by several terms relating to the treatment of the Imperial Family, namely that the Emperor shall retain his full imperial title during his life; that the princes shall transmit their titles to their descendants, that the Imperial Family shall receive annually, $4,000,000 from the State, etc.

Nobody can fail to sympathize with the Boy Emperor, as he now brings to a close the reign of the proud Manchus — a reign that began in 1644. Yet we note a great contrast in the treatment of the fallen (Qing) Dynasty with all others in Chinese history. In most cases the outgoing Emperor met a tragic end.

We believe there prevails throughout Europe and America an idea that the Mongolians, Manchus, (Han) Chinese and Japanese are essentially inhuman and cruel. We trust that the humane treatment of a fallen dynasty by the Chinese will do much to remove such misconception.

The abdication will most likely stop the civil war, but it will open the curtain for strife of rival leaders. General Li Yuanhong at Wuchang, Sun Yat-sen at Nanking, Yuan Shikai at Peking are the leaders, each with a strong following. What constitution will be adopted? What method will be followed in convening a national assembly? Who is to be the first President? All these questions will task to the utmost the statesmanship of these leaders. It will take much time before China settles down to an orderly condition under the new republican regime.

75 YEARS AGO
Friday, Feb. 19, 1937

Italian Embassy garden preserved

A garden at the back of the Italian Embassy, which is associated with the famous gallant vendetta of the 47 rōnin (retainers) in the Era of Genroku (1688-1704), will be given henceforward special attention and care by the same Embassy to preserve them intact permanently as precious historic grounds.

The garden was once part of the garden of the residence of feudal lord Okinokami Matsudaira and is the very spot where 10 of the 47 rōnin, after carrying out their successful vendetta, committed hara-kiri (on Feb. 4, 1703).

The property was owned by the late Prince Masayoshi Matsukata during the Meiji Period and became the site of the Italian Embassy in 1932. The embassy will take positive steps to preserve this spot.

[The garden is now part of the grounds of the Italian ambassador's residence.]

50 YEARS AGO
Thursday, Feb. 1, 1962

Tokyo population to top 10 million today

Tokyo’s population will top the 10 million mark today, the Statistics Bureau of the Metropolitan Government said yesterday.

Tokyo, already the most populated single city in the world, yesterday had 9,999,978 registered citizens and the 10-millionth citizen is sure to be listed today since an average of some 500 persons are flowing into the city every day.

Government officials cited two reasons for the expansion: The city’s concentration of industries and educational facilities, and the fact that average income per capita in Tokyo is nearly double that of other areas.

Ryotaro Azuma, governor of Tokyo, said that the city would be the “symbol of Japanese development,” but also regretted that the road and other public facilities are far behind the needs of the population. He pledged to address this problem.

25 YEARS AGO
Wednesday, Feb. 18, 1987

Japan lends support to space station plan

Foreign Minister Tadashi Kuranari said Tuesday Japan will consent to the U.S. Defense Department’s plan to conduct non-military experiments aboard a research-purpose space-station, envisaged for the 1990s, in a 13-nation project.

He would not say clearly whether or not military research should be allowed as part of the project.

The U.S. said last week that it hopes that project members will not bar participation by the Pentagon. The department has said it does not have specific plans on what experiments it will conduct in space.

“In the case of (research on) all-purpose technology, there is no reason for rejecting participation,” Kuranari said, after reporting on the space station issue to Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone Tuesday morning.

The foreign minister said Japan will continue to call for the peaceful use of space in future negotiations in the U.S.-led project involving Canada, Europe and Japan.

The 13 nations held their first meeting on Feb. 11 and 12 in Washington. In the plan, the U.S. will launch research laboratories prepared by the participating governments and will assemble them into a semi-permanent space station by the mid-1990s.

[The first component of the International Space Station was launched in 1998. On Nov. 2, 2011, it marked its 11th anniversary of continuous human occupation.]

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.