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The new Emperor’s character, China conflict escalates, eruptions on Miyakejima Is., JET program takes off

by Edan Corkill

Staff Writer

100 YEARS AGO
Saturday, Aug. 3, 1912

Characteristics of the new Emperor

The new Sovereign Emperor Yoshihito [who succeeded to the throne on July 30, 1912, and was posthumously known as Taisho], it is said, has many of the qualities of his lately deceased father, and many characteristics of his own, as was to be expected of a man born and educated in the age of Meiji. His Majesty is, above all, democratic. He seems to disregard or transcend the traditional barrier that had separated the Court from the people.

He invariably seeks simplicity and unconventionality in daily life in preference to the stiffness of Court etiquette. He can put himself in full sympathy with the people. In this connection, many interesting and beautiful anecdotes are told of His Majesty.

One story is perhaps sufficient to show how considerate of others His Majesty is, even in trivial things. When an attendant puts on his shoes every morning, the Emperor ties the string of one shoe while the subject ties the other.

Being delicate in health as a child, he gave a good deal of attention to sports. He is a good horseman and a capital shot. Even today he gives a couple of hours every afternoon to exercise on the horizontal bar and other athletic sports.

Of all the anecdotes told of the Emperor, perhaps none is more beautiful than this. The Prince was present at artillery maneuvers one hot summer day when he unexpectedly asked for a soldier’s rations. The perplexed officers brought him a piece of black bread to show him that it was not fit to eat, but the Prince gladly accepted it — along with other unattractive things of the private soldier’s food — and said: “I am also a private soldier, and am in training as all of you. Why should I not be satisfied with what you have to eat?”

75 YEARS AGO
Sunday, Aug. 22, 1937

Policy shift as China conflict escalates

Since the outbreak of the North China Incident last month [commencing with the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, of July 7, 1937], the Japanese government has followed a policy of non-aggravation and local settlement. This policy has been followed by the garrison in North China, which refrained from taking active steps despite the defiant attitude of the Chinese troops, which massed in the region. The garrison opened fire only to defend itself and Japanese residents.

Even when the fighting in North China expanded to a larger scale and troop reinforcements had to be sent, Premier Prince Fumimaro Konoye did not lose hope for peaceful settlement.

But now Japan is obliged to change its policy and positively punish China for her wanton and illegal attacks on the Japanese. As Premier Konoye explained yesterday in his press interview, the fundamental attitude of Japan has not changed at all, but as the situation has been so aggravated despite all our efforts, and a general clash is likely to develop, the government has decided to punish China so that the present situation may be stopped as early as possible.

This new policy is not taken for any territorial ambition, but only to stop immediately the anti-Japanese movement.

It is the hope of the Japanese government and people that the condition that has existed in Shanghai and vicinity the past two weeks will be ended as soon as possible. Not only a great number of civilians, Chinese, Japanese and foreign, have been killed and wounded, but Chinese planes have bombed the foreign settlement.

If present conditions are allowed to continue, greater danger may be caused to the life of Japanese and foreign residents, and their property. Thus Japan is to take a positive punitive policy so as to crush the fighting power of China to such an extent that it will no longer be able to carry out its wanton and merciless attacks.

50 YEARS AGO
Sunday, Aug. 26, 1962

Eruptions continue on Miyakejima Is.

Eruptions on Mount Oyama on Miyakejima Island, about 200 km south of Tokyo, were still continuing Saturday evening.

The volcano, which started its present activity Friday night, was sending black columns of smoke into the sky and spewing thick streams of lava 10 meters wide down its slopes. Strong earthquakes were intermittently rocking the island.

The Maritime Safety Agency sent relief goods by sea to the islanders, who were evacuated to the northwestern part of the island.

Anchored off the island ready for emergency action were the U.S. 7th Fleet’s aircraft carrier, Midway, and four destroyers.

At 3 p.m. Saturday, the number of injured was reported at 43, most of whom suffered abrasions while evacuating.

The Metropolitan Government Saturday morning sent enough hardtack for 5,000 meals, 1,000 blankets and 1,000 working clothes for the relief of the islanders.

25 YEARS AGO
Saturday, Aug. 1, 1987

JET program takes off with 850 youths

Japan will invite about 850 English-speaking youths from the U.S., Britain, Australia and New Zealand for a one-year visit under the new Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET), the Foreign Ministry said.

The youths will arrive in Japan by Aug. 2 and receive orientation from Aug. 3-8 before being sent to cities and towns throughout the nation.

They will work at public and private high schools, and assist education boards in helping Japanese students improve their English-language ability and promote international projects.

The youths will be paid 300,000 yen per month after taxes.

Ministry officials said a total of 4,495 youths applied for the program, 6.2 times more than the final number chosen, reflecting what the ministry believes is a growing interest in Japan and the program’s attractive salary.

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.