100 YEARS AGO
Wednesday, Sept. 4, 1912
Anyone for dynamite?
A correspondent reports from Nagano that the magazine of Shiokawa, a powder-maker in Komoro in that prefecture, was broken into and had 600 sticks of dynamite stolen lately. The police arrested Kosaburo Sato, of Minamioi, who confessed that he stole the sticks of dynamite and ate two of them. “They did not taste nice,” he admitted, and so he left the rest of them in a park in Komoro.
75 YEARS AGO
Wednesday, Sept. 15, 1937
Japanese forces gain victories in Shanghai
Today’s battle on the entire Shanghai front, in which Japanese military and naval forces drove Chinese troops west of the Woosung-Shanghai Railway and established land connection between Shanghai and Woosung [now a district of Shanghai transliterated as Wusong], brought the first big changes on the front in favor of the Japanese.
The loss of the Shanghai City Government building, which cost the Chinese three years’ labor and ¥50 million, and the civil center around it, is believed to have dealt a terrible mental blow to the Chinese forces.
In a general offensive from the East and Southwest, Japanese forces vigorously pushed Chinese troops from the area northeast of Shanghai with the city government as center. The area is estimated at 4½ miles (7¼ km) wide and 3 miles (4¾ km) long.
As the Chinese rapidly retreated — abandoning their position early yesterday morning — the Morihara detachment succeeded in occupying the city government premises at noon without serious resistance and gaining control over the civic center.
50 YEARS AGO
Saturday, Sept. 1, 1962
Way to open for first Tokyo skyscrapers
Tokyo’s skyline is likely to rival that of its sister city New York now that the Construction Ministry has begun to seriously study the scrapping of the present building height limit of 31 meters.
Construction Minister Ichiro Kono, the well-known Cabinet “strongman,” has touched off controversy recently by ordering his ministry aides to study revision of the Construction Standards Law, which limits the height of buildings to 31 meters.
This limit, Kono said, was based on the standard of European cities and on the scientific standard set up just after the catastrophic earthquake on Sept. 1, 1923. However, he said: “With the remarkable technical level achieved today, why should we stick to the present height limit?”
Professor Kiyoshi Muto of the University of Tokyo hails the proposed removal of the height limit. “Technically, we have already overcome all major difficulties,” Muto told The Japan Times on Friday.
He has been head of a special committee for technical study concerning the construction of a new Tokyo Station terminal building, and strongly champions skyscrapers in Tokyo and other cities.
The committee, organized by the Japan National Railway Corp., reached the following tentative conclusion this March: “Technically, the proposed 24-story terminal station can be safely built in spite of the threat of major earthquakes that may rock the capital.” The terminal building, if built, will be about 90 meters high.
Announcement of the new Tokyo Station program by JNR, and the conclusions reached by Muto’s committee, has caused wide repercussions in Japanese construction circles.
Construction companies organized their own committee in June mainly to study what is called the “curtain-wall technique,” which gives buildings a greater flexibility.
Nakao Nakagawa, a chief engineer at Taisei Construction Co., said that the removal of the height limit would not immediately lead to the mushrooming of tall skyscrapers in Tokyo and other cities, but he admitted that “several plans” along this line are already being drafted.
[The 31-meter-rule was implemented in 1931 as a replacement for the so-called 100-shaku rule — where 1 shaku is equal to 30.303 cm. The 100-shaku rule, in turn, is said to have been based on the 100-foot rule that was enforced in London between 1894 and 1954.]
25 YEARS AGO
Tuesday, Sept. 15, 1987
Michael Jackson show
Clad in black spandex and chains, superstar Michael Jackson emerged from clouds of smoke Saturday night at Tokyo’s Korakuen Stadium in Bunkyo Ward, ending a four-year hiatus — 14 years for Japan — from the public stage and proving once again his ability to thrill a crowd.
Jackson greeted some 38,000 fans, who ranged from young children to salarymen, and included sumo great Konishiki, with “konnichi wa” when he opened the concert with “Startin’ Something” from his “Thriller” album.
The 1 hr. 40 min. concert featured an array of high-tech special effects, including laser beams, fiber-optic body lights, fireworks and some equally dazzling footwork by the gloved one himself, “moonwalking,” high kicks and that famous Jackson spin.
Though early attempts to get the audience to sing along fizzled, the 29-year-old superstar had no trouble rousing the audience when he launched into a Motown medley, combining three Jackson 5 hits.
Jackson fans really went into a frenzy when the singer, after a short disappearing act behind a curtain, reappeared wearing a single white glove for “Billie Jean,” one of the five hits from his “Thriller” album included in the concert.
In addition to the four dancers, four singers and seven musicians sharing the stage with Jackson, American songstress Siedah Garrett joined the superstar at the end of the concert in singing “Can’t Stop Loving You,” the new hit from his “Bad” LP, which is currently the No. 1 single on the U.S. pop charts.
Jackson concluded the evening’s performance, the first of 13 to be given in Japan, with “Bad,” also from his “Bad” album released Aug. 31.
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.