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Servia strikes first blow; first private air raid shelter unveiled in Tokyo; torrential rain kills 106; LDP loses Upper House

by Edan Corkill

Staff Writer

100 YEARS AGO
Thursday, July 30 1914

Servia strikes first blow in World War I

Servian troops on board a steamer on the river Danube today opened fire on Austrian soldiers on the north bank of the river near Temeskub. The Austrians returned the fire and an engagement of some importance ensued.

The point mentioned as that at which the first gun of the war between Austria and Servia was fired may become historic as the scene of the opening of the greatest war known in history. Temeskub is not given on the available maps, but is probably a small place on the Danube south of Temesvar, a town of considerable importance in Hungary about 80 miles north of the river which is the boundary between Servia and Hungary.

War now having been declared by Austria against Servia, the Japanese Army authorities will dispatch military attaches to the scene of the hostilities if the war seems going to be of long duration.

The attaches to be dispatched will be appointed at the Japanese Embassies at Vienna and St. Petersburg.


75 YEARS AGO
Monday, July 17, 1939

Tokyo unveils first private air raid shelter

With the annual summer air defense drills just around the corner, and in tune with the embattled times, an air raid shelter for a private home has made its appearance in Tokyo. The underground bomb-proof chamber, completed recently in the garden of Hiroshi Matsudaira, a businessman of Shibuya, is probably the first and, as yet, the only one of its kind in Japan.

The idea was suddenly born in the mind of the owner while work was underway on an 11-foot terrace along one side of his garden this spring and consists of three Hume pipes eight feet in length and six feet in diameter placed end to end, convertible into three separate chambers. Buried underground, they are enclosed by walls of concrete four inches thick.

Entering the cavernous structure guarded by an airtight door, one comes upon racks for gas masks and garments for protection against poison gas. A poison-proof water compartment is also found here while ranged along the walls are seats capable of accommodating 20 at a pinch.

Underneath the seats are store spaces for food as well as compartments for shovels, picks and other paraphernalia and even a space for a radio. A ventilator at one end of the cave assures plentiful supply of air and switches for electric light have also been installed. The seats are capable of being utilized as a ping-pong table so that it also serves as a nice cooling-off place in summer when the rest of the world above is steaming.

The cost is said to have been around ¥4,000 — no small sum. But, being 8 feet below the surface, it is practically safe from any wandering bomb that might drop earthward, proving an adequate recompense for the outlay required.


50 YEARS AGO
Monday, July 20, 1964

Torrential rain kills 106 in Sanin, Hokuriku

One hundred and six persons were reported dead, 34 missing and 137 others injured as houses collapsed and landslides occurred following torrential rains which swept the Sanin and Hokuriku areas from Saturday through Sunday morning. About 583 houses were destroyed, washed away or damaged, and more than 40,000 others flooded.

Hardest hit was Shimane Prefecture where 87 persons were reported dead, 27 missing and 105 others injured. The rainfall reached 54 cm in Matsue, a new record since the local observatory was established in 1941. Dikes were broken for a space of about 20 meters on the Akagawa River in Kamo-machi, Ohara-gun, Shimane Prefecture at about 3 a.m. Sunday and roaring waters flooded 1,200 out of 1,500 houses of the town almost up to their roofs.

Two persons were killed when their house collapsed and pinned them under its debris at Otamachi, Ota, Sunday morning. Eight others were feared dead when a similar accident happened at Shizuma-machi in the same city.


25 YEARS AGO
Monday, July 24, 1989

LDP loses Upper House to socialists in election

The Liberal-Democratic Party was certain to lose its majority in the House of Councilors for the first time since the party’s founding in 1955 as the Japan Socialist Party coasted to a landslide victory in Sunday’s national election.

The JSP, the largest opposition party, is expected to have won more seats than the LDP in the voting when the final outcome is made known this evening. There are 126 seats up for grabs, one-half of the 252-member Upper House.

By 1:30 a.m. today, 105 candidates had been declared successful. They included 40 members of the JSP, which previously held 22 of the seats being contested, and 32 members of the LDP, which went into the contest with 66 seats. The LDP would have had to clinch at least 54 seats to retain a simple majority of 127 in the Upper House, but it was expected to emerge with only about 35 seats.

Ryutaro Hashimoto, the LDP’s secretary general, and Prime Minister Sousuke Uno, who is president of the LDP, as well as all other leaders of the conservative party, had expected a major setback stemming from widespread voter criticism of the consumption tax, the Recruit influence-buying scandal and the opening of the country’s agriculture markets to foreign products.

Owing to the LDP’s fall in popularity, candidates backed by the JSP or Rengo, the Japanese Private Sector Trade Union Confederation, ousted incumbent LDP candidates in most of the 26 single-seat constituencies, most of which were traditional LDP strongholds.

The JSP’s landslide is expected to enhance the party’s position in spearheading anti-LDP movements in the Diet as well as moves toward a coalition government among the opposition parties.

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. The Japan Times’ entire archive is now available to purchase in digital format. For more details, see jtimes.jp/de.