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Steamer surveys new island; Forces land on Hainan Island; Kyu Sakamoto profiled; Leftists suspected in shrine bombing

by Edan Corkill

Staff Writer

Steamer discovers newly formed island
100 YEARS AGO
THURSDAY, FEB. 26 1914 — The N.Y.K. Bonin liner Chefoo, which returned to Yokohama yesterday, gave an interesting account of her exploration of the newly formed island near Minami Iwojima.

On its northeastern side, the island, which has been created by a recent volcanic eruption, has precipices that have collapsed or washed away at places. From the crumpled earth in the sea shot up smoke, and the scene presents a most entertaining spectacle. On the western side of the island is a flat beach. The crew landed by canoe and stayed ashore one hour, then came to the southeast of the island whence they could plainly see the crater. Ash, pumice-stones and steam were being sent up in immense volume to a height of some 500 feet (150 meters).

The new island is located two miles and a half to the south of Minami Iwojima. It stands 590 feet (180 meters) above sea level, and extends three quarters of a mile (1.2 km) from south to north.

The water in the sea surrounding the new island is tepidly warm. The heap of ash on the island is knee-deep.

The island described here has since disappeared.


75 YEARS AGO
Saturday, Feb. 11, 1939

Japanese forces land on Hainan Island

Japanese Army and Navy forces, operating in close collaboration, at daybreak yesterday succeeded in making a surprise landing on Hainan Island off the South China coast, and have been continuing an advance, an official communique by the Imperial Headquarters revealed.

The occupation of Hainan Island, it is believed, will further strengthen the naval blockade now enforced all over China’s water by the Japanese Navy, and will simultaneously cause a heavy blow to munitions transportation by various routes in south China.

Tatsuo Kawai, spokesman of the Foreign Office, told journalists the operation does not violate the Franco-Japanese Agreement of 1907. “The present Japanese operation is for the purpose of exterminating the Chinese military forces in the island and is therefore an affair which has nothing to do with the question of assuring peace and security envisaged by the Japanese-French Agreement.”


strong>50 YEARS AGO
Tuesday, Feb. 25, 1964

Personality profile: Kyu Sakamoto

The coffee shop in the neon-lit Shibuya alley shook with the flamboyant jazz of the five-piece band. Every seat on two floors was taken, and the teenage audience tapped its toes while waiters whisked around with ice cream and red and green sodas. Desultory applause changed to enthusiasm when the idol stepped forward to the microphone, the one-of-their-kind, Kyu Sakamoto.

Kyu-chan, 22 years old, international star with fan mail from across the world, smiled his natural impish smile.

He has the gift all right. “Good-bye, Joe,” he sang in his breathy voice, and his rhythm was infectious and irresistible.

But back-stage, Kyu-chan looked wan. His life keeps him on the run between rehearsals, recording studios, TV studios. “I love fast cars,” he said. “But — no time.”

Kyu, ninth and last child in his family, is the son of a Kawasaki restaurateur. “I was a very naughty little boy,” he volunteered.

Six years ago, inspired by Elvis Presley, he decided to be a singer, and his efforts filled his life to the extent that his high school education remained uncompleted.

His rendition of the song that became known overseas as “Sukiyaki” put him at the top of the American hit parade, the first Japanese ever to win such distinction.

“Then,” he said, “my mother was happy, so I was happy.” He is happier still now that he has built a new house for his mother, and lives with her in it.

During a half-hour break before going on stage again, he recalled his trips abroad.

“Rome is like Tokyo, but Hollywood — wonderful! I flew over Hollywood in a helicopter. Wonderful!” In the late spring he is scheduled to go to America again for a series of appearances.

He then explained that he hopes to build a steady future as an actor in moving pictures. And marriage? “Later,” said Kyu-chan seriously. “Much, much later.”

Modern young people come in for a lot of criticism in one way and another. A boy like Kyu-chan makes you feel that the generation is not a lost one.

To have known his success and to have come through unspoiled and likeable says a lot for the stuff of which he is made.


25 YEARS AGO
Saturday, Feb. 4, 1989

Anti-Emperor leftists suspected in bombing

An explosion rocked the main building of Togo Shrine in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward early Friday morning, causing damage to the front door and ceiling.

Police are investigating the incident as a suspected bomb attack by leftist anti-establishment radicals aiming to obstruct the Feb. 24 funeral for Emperor Showa.

The explosion occurred shortly after 4 a.m. Police officers dispatched to the shrine found the front door to the main building shattered and part of the ceiling collapsed. The explosion triggered a fire that scorched the pillars of an outdoor passage connecting the main building and a room for the tea ceremony.

The shrine was established in 1940 in memory of Adm. Heihachiro Togo, the victor of the sea Battle of Tsushima over a tsarist Russian armada in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05. Togo served in the 1920s as chief tutor to the late monarch, who was then the Crown Prince. There have been seven similar incidents. Police believe all are linked to organizations that have voiced opposition to the emperor system since the Jan. 7 death of Emperor Showa.

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.