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Battleships, Tokyo Tower and a guilty ex-Prime Minister



Hail to the American fleet!

Sunday, Oct. 18, 1908 — (Extra edition)

The first in record and unrivaled in power and grandeur, the United States Atlantic Battleship Fleet enters the Bay of Tokyo today. The fleet comes as our national guest in response to a cordial invitation, and its arrival is naturally most gratifying to us. The Japanese nation rises to welcome the fleet to its shores. Full 10 months have sped by since the Atlantic Squadron of the United States Navy, re-formed into a grand fleet of battleships 250,000 tons strong, left Hampton Roads on the 16th of December last year, in the midst of the roar of guns from Fort Monroe, and its cruise, though only half finished yet, has already covered 28,500 miles.

As a people deeply interested in naval affairs, in wonder and admiration have we watched the progress of the titanic armada as it careered around the great continents of America, thence to far Australasia, up to the Philippines and finally to our shores.

The present is the second time that American warships in fleet formation have visited us. It is highly interesting as well as instructive that the two visits are surrounded by similar circumstances. By the first visit, we mean, of course, Commodore Perry’s and to tell the truth the presence in Yedo Bay [present-day Tokyo Bay] of the four “black ships” spread consternation in this land of ours. We did not know, then, the motives of the fleet’s mission and even resented its advent. But subsequently we came to clearly understand its meaning and results, and then there sprung up an irrevocable pledge of friendship between the two countries.

As regards the present visit, we remember that, when a year ago last summer it began to be rumored that the Washington Government was going to dispatch its Atlantic Squadron to the Pacific, the intimation gave rise to varied conjectures in this country as to President (Theodore) Roosevelt’s intentions, and some of them were not of a very reassuring nature. At the time this journal adhered to a view that, since the United States was committed to the noble principles of humanity and justice, there was no occasion for any misapprehension on our part.

As Commodore Perry’s coming led to cordiality of relations, so will Admiral Sperry’s visit mark, we are convinced, a new era of friendship between the Republic and the Empire, and demonstrate to the world that the unbroken stream of warm feeling running between the two, thus redoubled by this auspicious event, stands proof against all little incidents and tamperings.


Tokyo Tower tops them all

Wednesday, Oct. 15, 1958

Tokyo Tower yesterday became taller than the Eiffel Tower.

Which makes it the world’s highest independent tower.

The tower grew to its full height when the 75-meter (246-foot) television antenna was bolted in position. The tower measures 331.36 meters or 1,085 feet.

It’s slightly shorter than the 333 meters originally planned.

But nevertheless, it tops Paris’ famed landmark by 26 meters, or 86 feet.

The giant tower is being constructed by the Japan Television City Corporation, and it is scheduled for official opening on Dec. 23.

Before that date an observation platform and a six-storied science museum are scheduled to be completed in the center of the lower part of the tower and at the base.


Tanaka guilty in Lockheed scandal

Thursday, Oct. 13, 1983

Former Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka was found guilty Wednesday of taking ¥500 million in bribes from Lockheed Aircraft Corp. in return for helping it sell aircraft to All Nippon Airways and was sentenced to four years in prison.

Tanaka was also ordered to pay ¥500 million in forfeiture, the same amount as he received in bribes. Tanaka, who stuck to his denial of the bribery charges throughout six years and eight months of trial, immediately appealed the Tokyo District Court ruling to a higher court.

Tanaka, prime minister from July 1972 through December 1974, is the first ex-prime minister to be found guilty of taking a bribe and abusing the authority of the nation’s highest office.

In a historic ruling, a panel of three judges at the Tokyo District Court also found Tanaka’s four co-defendants guilty for their roles in the most controversial scandal since the end of World War II.

In convicting all the defendants, Okada upheld almost all the prosecution charges against them and rejected the defendants’ claims of innocence or underestimation of their roles in the scandal.

The prison term given to Tanaka is one year shorter than the prosecution had demanded for him, but it is the severest sentence ever delivered in a bribery case.

Given an impetus by the ruling, the opposition parties immediately made known they would step up their demand for Tanaka’s relinquishment of his Diet seat.

However, after returning home, Tanaka said he would continue fulfilling his duty as a member of the Diet.

Under such circumstances, the political community may be thrown into political turmoil as Tanaka’s faction, the biggest in the LDP, pledged to support him despite the ruling.

The sentencing session was held under heavy security measures by riot police and special police units in and around the district court, which closed all other courtrooms Wednesday.

Wednesday’s ruling was the last to be handed down on the 16 Lockheed scandal defendants who have been tried in four separate groups.

As a result, the prosecutors scored in all of the four trials at the district court, though a trial against Yoshio Kodama, Lockheed’s former secret consultant, was suspended because of his illness.

In this feature, which appears in TimeOut on the third Sunday of each month along with our regular Week 3 stories, we delve into The Japan Times’ 112-year-old archive to present a selection of stories from the past. Stories may be edited for brevity.