100 YEARS AGO
Wednesday, Dec. 25, 1912
Hokkaido mine blast ‘has killed hundreds’
A part of the Mount Yubari coal mine in Hokkaido exploded at 10 a.m. Monday, possibly trapping up to 238 workers.
The explosion area covers about (37,000 sq. meters) and yields about 1,300 tons of coal a day. The gallery of the mine was blocked for (more than 730 meters).
Upon receipt of the information, local policemen and physicians immediately went to the scene and established a temporary hospital near the mine entrance. The families of the workers who were in the mine became panic-stricken and crowded at the mouth of the mine anxiously inquiring after the welfare of the men.
At about 11 a.m., the first search party entered the shaft. By about 1 p.m. one living man and eight bodies had been brought to the surface. By 4 p.m., another 13 injured men and 18 bodies had been discovered.
According to a search-party member, there are a great many dead in the inner part of the shaft, but they were unable to take them out as gas still fills the shaft at that point. Altogether, 198 others are still missing, and it is believed that all have likely died of suffocation.
The financial loss due to the disaster is believed to be heavy, though no figures are yet available. About 8 p.m., officials of the Hokkaido Prefectural Office arrived at the scene of the disaster for examination, but the origin of the disaster is not yet known.
[The official death toll from the disaster was eventually ascertained to be 216.]
75 YEARS AGO
Wednesday, Dec. 15, 1937
The fall of Nanking
The occupation of Nanking by Japanese troops was completed on Monday evening, according to an official announcement made by the Army Department of the Imperial Headquarters at 11:20 p.m. Monday.
In this connection, the authorities of the same Army Department made the following statement for publication:
“The Imperial forces, since their landing at Shanghai on Aug. 23, launched a series of daring and persistent attacks on the enemy and succeeded in breaking through the stagnant conditions of the Shanghai front.
“To make the accomplishment of the Imperial troops still more brilliant, as a unique record in the world’s war history, they have compelled the enemy to abandon, in just a few days, its capital, the city of Nanking, which the Chinese used to declare impregnable and which they pledged themselves to maintain to the last.
“This felicitous achievement must be attributed to the Imperial virtues and also to the excellence of the command, the loyalty of the men, and the support of the people at home. Particularly deserving of our appreciation is the spiritual aid given by those brave officers and men who were killed in the Shanghai area. Our sincere gratitude and respects are due to them all.
“Whatever the Chinese propaganda, their defeat is manifest, and this must be more than sufficient to make them realize the stupidity of their (current course of action).
“So long, however, as Gen. Chiang Kai-shek clings to his plan of protracted warfare, the termination of hostilities must be regarded as a matter of remote future. The Japanese people must renew their determination and make a further united effort for the attainment of the ultimate end of the present military operations.”
[These events coincided with the start of what is now known as the Nanking Massacre. Estimates of the number of Chinese who died range from 10,000 to 300,000.]
50 YEARS AGO
Wednesday, Dec. 12, 1962
Economy up 14 p.c.
Japan’s national economy continued to maintain a high rate of growth in fiscal 1961, showing a rise of 14 percent over the preceding year in real terms, according to a report by the Economic Planning Agency approved by Cabinet Tuesday.
The gross national product in fiscal 1961 aggregated ¥17,701,500 million — up some ¥3,036,600 million, or 20.7 percent from the preceding fiscal year. Contributing most to this rise were active government and private investments totaling ¥7,542,000 million, up 34.5 percent from the previous year.
Another factor in the rise was personal consumption, which rose by 15.9 percent to amount to ¥8,920,100 million, reflecting a marked improvement in personal income.
25 YEARS AGO
Wednesday, Dec. 23, 1987
Whalers to depart
Takashi Sato, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said Tuesday a Japanese ship preparing to conduct scientific whaling in the Antarctic is ready to depart Wednesday despite protests by conservationists.
“Preparations are being made for the ship’s departure on the 23rd,” Sato said.
Greenpeace antiwhaling leader Anne Dingwall lashed out at the planned departure, which she said “blatantly disregards” a decision by scientists on the International Whaling Commission (IWC).
“I am not surprised but extremely disappointed,” said Dingwall, 35, of Canada. She did not say what further action the environmentalists would take.
An IWC report issued last week in London stopped short of a recommendation against Japan’s plan to catch 300 minke whales for scientific research, although scientists from Japan and Iceland were alone among 16 IWC members in supporting the plan.
Earlier in the day, Greenpeace activists received an “official caution” following a demonstration Monday in Yokohama with a 15-meter inflatable replica of a whale, Dingwall said. Maritime Safety Agency officials warned Dingwall not to break the law in Japan again or she would “go to jail for a long time,” she said.
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. Readers might be interested to know that The Japan Times digital archive is now available on DVD. For more information see jtimes.jp/de.