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Sumida River swimmers, brides for Manchoukuo, driving chaos, PM’s Recruit incident remarks

by Edan Corkill

100 YEARS AGO
Wednesday, Aug. 6, 1913

Swimmers cool off in Tokyo’s Sumida River

“O Joy! Come in and splash me!” The exhilarating shouts of boys and girls are heard all along the Sumida River, which has been turned into a continuous swimming pool by the young men and women of Tokyo, driven out of doors and into the water by the heat.

The uppermost swimming station is occupied by Mr. Suyegoro Matsuda’s swimming school for boys and girls, at Nakagumi-bashi River front, in Senju. A spacious pavilion there is built facing the breeze-swept Sumida, where you can see sun-burned sailors leisurely rowing their cargo boats. Hundreds of boys swim there, with caps — black, black-and-white and white, according to the classes.

Girls in purple or white bathing suits are in the water in large numbers. Among them are many geisha, some of whom are very good swimmers. Ichiwaka of Yoshicho has been nicknamed the “River-goblin.” When seen last Monday, she easily crossed the Sumida and swam back, threading her way among the cargo boats and steam launches.

Coming down the river, one will find swimming stations all along the western bank, mostly patronized by students. Those at Kototoi and Hama-cho are most popular.


75 YEARS AGO
Wednesday, Aug. 17, 1938

Mass training for emigrant brides-to-be

The famine of brides, so to speak, now being experienced by pioneer youths in Manchoukuo and Mongolia will shortly be cleared by the Education and Overseas Ministries, which are planning to establish special course in various agricultural schools to train girls as brides bound for Manchoukuo and Mongolia.

Each course will accommodate 50 girls to be trained for one year in Manchoukuo and Mongolian geography, native customs and agriculture. About 250 brides will be graduated annually in the future and sent to the continent. A marriage agency for them will be organized by the Education Ministry.

At present there are nine women’s agricultural institutes and 47 women’s courses in the men’s agricultural institutes, the total number of women students in agriculture numbering about 9,000. They are, however, being given instructions necessary for domestic rural farming and courses in overseas farming have so far been lacking.


50 YEARS AGO
Friday, Aug. 16, 1963

Driving chaos on Meishin Expressway

The Meishin (Nagoya-Kobe) Expressway, which partially opened a month ago, has served to remind officials of the poor driving knowledge and immorality of Japanese drivers.

Toll business on the 71-km stretch between Amagasaki in Hyogo Prefecture and Ritto in Shiga Prefecture, which opened on July 15, “is proceeding splendid style” and doing better than had been expected.

According to the Japan Highway Corp., about 30,000 motor vehicles each week cruise the stretch on weekdays and about 70,000 on Sundays — more than double the figures estimated before the opening.

Yet about 30 automobiles break down daily because of overheating, flat tires and other mechanical troubles. The poor knowledge of the drivers and their lack of discipline is mostly to blame, according to officials.

“Some drivers suddenly discover their gas tank is dry when their cars sputter to a halt,” according to Sozo Itakura of the Japan Highway Corp.

One month after the expressway opened, a total of 1,270 had been taken care of by patrol police and highway corporation officials because of mechanical trouble. Dozens of persons have been warned by patrol officers or corporation officials for halting their cars on the road while taking pictures or urinating.

As of August 14, there have been 49 traffic accidents on the expressway, with 32 cars destroyed or badly damaged. There were 13 collisions and 14 overturns. Thirty-three persons were injured, five seriously.

Eight of the collisions were “with the guard-rail or the median strip” and 10 of the overturns did not involve another car. This means that drivers are not skilful enough or lack adequate knowledge about the capability of their cars, according to a representative of the Police Patrol Liaison Room of the expressway.


25 YEARS AGO
Wednesday, Aug. 3, 1988

PM ‘fully accepts’ Recruit-case criticism

Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita told the Diet Tuesday he “fully accepts” public criticism for the Recruit Cosmos case, involving one of his secretaries, and hinted he and they will not deal again in unlisted stocks. But he maintained that the lucrative dealings in the unlisted shares of Recruit Cosmos Co. were legal and that his and other politicians’ secretaries engaged in them for personal gain, not on behalf of their employers.

“Despite the fact that each person (secretary) made the dealings for himself according to legal rules, I must fully accept the public feeling of uneasiness over such dealings,” Takeshita said.

He made the comments before the House of Councillors in reply to a question from Tetsu Noda of the Japan Socialist Party.

Noda said Recruit Co.’s sales of unlisted shares of its subsidiary Recruit Cosmos Co. to the secretaries were in effect bribes to the politicians, as the shares were certain to rise when they were put on the market later.

He said, “no one believes” the secretaries made the deals for themselves, and called the case one of apparent de facto bribery.

In reply, Justice Minister Yukio Hayashida said that the Recruit case did not constitute bribery because the shares’ purchasers were not in a position to do favors for Recruit.

[Public outcry over the so-called Recruit Incident, which was found to involve more than 90 politicians, some of whom profited by more than ¥100 million, continued to grow through June 1989, when Takeshita and his entire Cabinet were forced to resign.]

In this feature in Timeout on the third Sunday of each month, we delve into The Japan Times’ 117-year archive to present a selection of stories from the past. Stories may be edited for brevity. Readers may be interested to know that The Japan Times’ entire archive is now available on Blu-ray Disc. For more details, see jtimes.jp/de.