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The last of the shoguns; fighting widens; Yokohama train crash kills 129; Emperor’s health slips

by Edan Corkill

100 YEARS AGO
Sunday, Nov. 3 1913

The last of the shoguns

Prince Yoshinobu Tokugawa, the fifteenth and last to succeed to the Tokugawa Shogunate, died early yesterday morning at his residence in Koishikawa, Tokyo.

Probably the last illustrious figure to survive the historic days of the Meiji Restoration has passed away. His death came rather suddenly after a few days’ indisposition from cold. His condition suddenly became serious the night of the 21st and at four o’clock yesterday morning he died of heart failure.

Prince Yoshinobu Tokugawa, the seventh son of Lord Nariaki Tokugawa, of the Mito clan, was born in Edo on September 29, 1837. He was chosen as Shogun and succeeded Iyemochi, the 14th Shogun, in 1866, amid political disturbances caused by the Imperialists for the restoration of the Imperial power.

With sagacious understanding of the situation, and led by the far-sighted perception of true statesmanship, Prince Tokugawa surrendered the ruling power to the Imperial throne in October 1867, thus avoiding unnecessary bloodshed and paving a peaceful and open way for the incoming of the Meiji era of “great enlightenment.”

Surrendering the administrative and military power held by the Tokugawa Shoguns to the Emperor, Prince Tokugawa retired from active life and kept aloof from politics and affairs of state and society. After his son, Yoshihisa Tokugawa, was enrolled in the nobility and created a Prince, the late Prince remained without aristocratic title and passed his quiet life in shooting and other sports. In 1902, he was granted the title of Prince by special grace of the Emperor.


75 YEARS AGO
Wednesday, Nov. 9, 1938

Third powers advised of fighting extension

Further extension to the west of the war zone in China, including the provinces of Shensi (now known as Shaanxi), Hupei (Hubei), Hunan and Kwangsi (now the autonomous region of Guangxi), was notified to the diplomatic envoys in Tokyo by Foreign Minister Hachiro Arita today, with the simultaneous request that their governments take adequate precautionary measures for the protection of the lives and property of their nationals in China.

The fall of Canton and Hankow into Japanese hands and the Chiang Kai-shek’s regime’s forced retreat into Western China were cited in the diplomatic circular as reasons for the expected extensions of the zone of hostilities.

“I wish to invite Your Excellency’s renewed attention to the fact repeatedly communicated to you that the Japanese forces are unable to assume any responsibility for the protection of third-country rights and interests in China which are utilized by the Chinese forces or which exist in their proximity,” Arita noted in the communiqué.


50 YEARS AGO
Sunday, Nov. 10, 1963

129 dead in triple train smash near Yokohama

More than 129 persons were killed and 94 injured Saturday in a three-train smash-up near Namamugi between Yokohama and Tsurumi on the Tokaido Trunk Line.

Japan National Railway Corporation (JNR) headquarters said the disaster occurred at about 9:50 p.m. when the last three cars of a freight train jumped the tracks in the path of a 12-coach Tokyo-bound Yokosuka Line passenger train.

The engine of the Tokyo-bound train rammed into the derailed freight cars and was thrown into the side of the fourth and fifth coaches of a 12-coach train bound for Kurihama that was passing on the other side. The engine shaved the sides off the two coaches and smashed into the sixth coach.

Four coaches of the two passenger trains were almost completely destroyed and the shock of the impact battered all passengers in both trains.

The Kurihama-bound train coaches, packed almost to capacity with commuters leaving Tokyo, was a bloody shambles. The first rescuers on the scene were unable to immediately tell the living from the dead in the mass of bodies and debris.

About 50 police vehicles and ambulances were called out to rush the injured to the city’s major hospitals.

A grocer who lives near the scene said he first saw “a huge mass of flames scorching the sky.”

Reisuke Ishida, president of the JNR, expressed his profound sorrow and regret over the disaster which he said occurred, “despite JNR’s all-out preventive efforts.”

He refused to take upon himself and his men the responsibility for the accident until the cause has been determined.


25 YEARS AGO
Wednesday, Nov. 9, 1988

Emperor’s health slips

The condition of the Emperor (Hirohito, posthumously known as Showa) worsened drastically Tuesday, with his blood pressure plunging and his temperature soaring, the Imperial Household Agency said.

Agency spokesman Kenji Maeda described the Emperor’s condition as of 5:30 p.m. as being at its worst since (the bouts of internal bleeding) began Sept. 19. His systolic blood pressure dropped to 68, the lowest it has been during his illness, according to the agency.

His diastolic blood pressure was 30 and his pulse rate rose to 120 beats per minute as of 5:30 p.m. The Emperor’s temperature jumped 2.5 degrees Celsius to 39 degrees. Maeda admitted that the Emperor’s temperature neared 40 Celsius at one time. Court physicians gave the Emperor an emergency transfusion of 600 cc of blood after his condition worsened.

Despite the deterioration of his condition, the Emperor did not lose consciousness, the agency said.

It was reported earlier that because of the high number of transfusions the Emperor has had, doctors were having difficulties finding veins through which to administer transfusions.

In this feature, which appears on the first 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.