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Empress-Dowager Shoken laid to rest; crackdown in Shanghai’s foreign quarters; Olympic preparations; Lebanese businessman Japan’s top tax-payer

by Edan Corkill

Staff Writer

100 YEARS AGO
Tuesday, May 26, 1914

Nation bids farewell to late Empress-Dowager

One of the notable landmarks in the modern history of Japan was the funeral ceremony held Saturday night for Her Majesty, the late Empress-Dowager (Shoken, empress consort of Emperor Meiji), who passed away on April 9. The augury of fine weather that was afforded by the afternoon’s sunshine was belied by a slight rainfall at night.

At about six o’clock the searchlights began to play on the Yoyogi parade ground, which was also surrounded by electric illuminations; while the large black and white paper lanterns appropriate to such occasions, bearing the imperial crest, were freely interspersed.

Ambassadors and Ministers began to arrive at half past seven, in Imperial Household carriages with military escorts. Their Imperial Majesties arrived at 8:40, and at once retired to the rest-rooms behind the Imperial pavilion. A bugle fanfare at 9:25 announced the approach of the funeral cortege. Their Imperial Majesties met the procession at the second torii (gate).

The coffin being deposited in the center of the Sanctuary, in the pavilion especially erected, the curtain was withdrawn, revealing a blaze of light.

The Ritualists made the traditional offerings, the Chief Ritualist reading the appointed address.

His Imperial Majesty (Yoshihito, now known as Taisho) then paid homage, and read an address as follows:

“I, Yoshihito, reverently address the Spirit of the late Emperor-Mother. Only a year and a half has elapsed since the conclusion of the national mourning for His Majesty the late Emperor, and our tears are barely dry when, alas, We again suffer a great loss. How unpitying, alas, is Heaven to Yoshihito! We have in person performed ceremonies while Her Late Majesty lay in state, sanctified, in a temporary shrine for several days past; and we are now about to lay the August Remains beside those of the late Imperial Father. We have now come to say farewell. Alas! At this moment Our sorrow is unbelievable.”


75 YEARS AGO
Saturday, May 13, 1939

Political activities in Shanghai banned

The following joint proclamation was issued this afternoon by the French Concession and the Shanghai Municipal Council, stressing their neutrality and banning associations of political nature:

“From the beginning of the hostilities (between China and Japan), the authorities of the French Concession and the International Settlement have striven continuously to preserve their neutrality in the areas under their control so that the law-abiding residents may continue with security to carry on their lawful occupations and that the safety of life and property might be preserved for all persons irrespective of their nationality.

“The activities of political nature, though they may be regarded by those participating as being of patriotic character, cannot legitimately be carried on in the neutral areas. Associations of a political nature accordingly cannot be allowed to operate in the areas under the control of the authorities of the French Concession and the International Settlement. Such activities would, in the opinion of the authorities concerned, be inconsistent with absolute neutrality which, it is their common object to preserve. It is accordingly, hereby, proclaimed that any person participating in activities of such association either directly or indirectly may be denied the sanctuary of the concession and the settlement and be liable to expulsion.”

Shanghai had fallen under Japanese control in 1937 after the Battle of Shanghai.


50 YEARS AGO
Sunday, May 3, 1964

Goodwill on show in buildup to Olympics

At 10 a.m. Saturday, a small but important signboard was added to Tokyo’s jungle of glaring signs. The new sign, put up in front of 22 department stores of the Japanese capital shows three initials, IGS, which stand for International Goodwill Shop. It symbolizes a campaign to give a good and lasting impression to visitors from abroad to the Tokyo Olympic Games.

The drive, initiated by the Tokyo Chamber of Commerce and Industry, is symbolic of the current nationwide movement to enhance the international reputation of Japan at the grass-roots level by making the Olympic visitors’ stay in Japan comfortable.

The IGS signs will be distributed to all retail shops, restaurants, coffee shops, bars, hotels, barbers and beauty shops and laundries which meet the required standard.

The standard differs according to the business establishment. Common to all are that prices must be written in Arabic figures, the shop must be sanitary and no undue price increase is to be practiced to take advantage of temporary visitors.

A spokesman for the chamber said that the chamber hoped to have some 2,000 IGS shops in Tokyo and about 3,000 more elsewhere in Japan.


25 YEARS AGO
Tuesday, May 2, 1989

Tokyo land sale hands trader top earnings title

Abdel Hadi Debs, a Lebanese national, topped the tax agency’s list of income earners in Japan last year after selling a tract of land in Tokyo.

Debs, 70, a trading company representative in Japan, earned an estimated ¥43 billion after selling an 8,600-sq.-meter plot of land in Oyama, Shibuya Ward, an official of the National Tax Administration Agency said Monday. Debs paid ¥6.854 billion in tax, Japan’s all-time record for income tax paid by an individual.

Debs was followed in the list of biggest taxpayers by Mitsuo Akiyama, 51, owner of a gasoline station in Fukuzawa, Setagaya Ward, Tokyo. Akiyama sold a 4,000-sq.-meter plot of land in Tokyo for about ¥12 billion and paid about ¥3.358 billion in tax. Mitsuo Sakaguchi, 60, was ranked third. He sold a 900-sq.-meter plot of land in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward for about ¥9 billion.

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. This edition was compiled with the assistance of Sang Woo Kim. The Japan Times’ entire archive is now available to purchase in digital format. For more details, see jtimes.jp/de.