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Yoshiwara fire, war and foreign ministers start weekly meetings, intellectuals on dope, Japan offers to help at Chernobyl


Staff Writer

Tuesday, April 11, 1911

Yoshiwara blaze

A fire which started in a room on the third floor of the Mikado-ro at number 20, Nichome, Edomachi, Yoshiwara (in Tokyo), about 11 o’clock Sunday morning swept an area four miles long and a mile wide, consuming 6,676 houses and causing a property loss estimated at ¥8,690,000. Four persons are known to have lost their lives and 150, including two policemen, sustained injuries. The conflagration raged about eight hours, practically burning itself out at 7 o’clock on Sunday evening when it reached the Sumida River. Of the total property loss, only an estimated ¥548,000 was covered by insurance.

The principal buildings destroyed were the Yoshiwara police station, the fire station, three schools, two post offices, one rubber factory, one cotton mill, seven temples and two shrines. The number of people rendered homeless is estimated at 40,000, including 6,000 inmates of “The Nightless City.” Many of those who were able to save anything from the flames scattered with their effects to find abodes wherever they might, while those who are helpless and without funds are being cared for by the Imperial Government and are housed in various temples, schools and public buildings throughout the city.

Thursday, April 23, 1936

War, Foreign and Navy ministers to hold weekly meeting

To effect the consolidation of diplomacy and the adjustment of diplomacy and defense, a conference of the War, Foreign and Navy Ministers will be held every Friday after the Cabinet Council session.

Mr. Hachiro Arita, the Foreign Minister, has been urging the consolidation of diplomacy through Premier Koki Hirota. The Cabinet Council on Tuesday decided a regular weekly conference be held by the three ministers to exchange views on diplomatic and national defense affairs.

The subjects to be discussed at the new Three Ministers’ Conference are reported to be the diplomatic policies towards China and the Soviet Union, and also the satisfactory economic cooperation among Japan, China and Manchoukuo.

When the wish of Foreign Minister Arita is materialized at these ministers’ sessions, there will be brought about a new epoch in Japan’s diplomacy, eliminating the former evil of diplomatic affairs being handled through two different channels.

Sunday, April 9, 1961

Intellectuals reported to be taking to dope

The Welfare Ministry yesterday expressed alarm at the unusual increase in cases of narcotics addiction among salaried intellectual people as well as young people in their twenties as seen during last year.

According to the ministry the number of cases of violations of the narcotic control laws and regulations unearthed last year reached 1,987, a record high in the past 10 years. The yearly total of such uncovered cases had not been more than 1,600 in the worst year during the decade.

The number of dope addicts discovered totaled 1,833, or about as many as in 1959. But there was a surprising increase to 134 in the number of salaried or white-collared intellectuals becoming narcotics victims. There was also a marked increase to 1,340 in the number of addicts in the 20- to 35- year-old bracket, especially 20-year-olds, but a steady decrease among older folks.

Among the principal motives for taking to morphine and other narcotics, “curiosity” accounted for as a high as 42 percent of the total, a sharp increase from the 29 percent curiosity total for 1959. Tokyo, Osaka, Kobe and other large port cities still remained the worst areas since they are the centers of drug smuggling.

The ministry estimates the total of confirmed addicts in Japan at about 40,000 and the overall total of addicts including those on the verge of being confirmed cases at about 200,000.

On March 30, Japan joined other nations in signing a United Nations-sponsored international narcotic control convention.

Wednesday, April 30, 1986

P.M. offers Japan’s aid with Chernobyl blaze

Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone stated Tuesday night that Japan was ready to provide its scientific resources to help fight the fire at the site of a nuclear power plant accident in the Soviet Union.

A Science and Technology Agency official said Tuesday that very little, if any, of the radiation discharged into the environment in the accident would reach Japan in light of the distance between Japan and the plant site.

However, Eiichi Tsuji, chief of the agency’s Atomic Energy Bureau, said his agency would closely monitor any nuclear fallout that may reach Japan and cooperate with other government agencies.

The agency began monitoring environmental radiation levels Tuesday night at sites around domestic power plants and locations in 32 prefectures nationwide. If any abnormality is detected, the agency will request a Cabinet Council be formed to look at countermeasures.

Japanese power industry sources expressed concern that the Soviet accident might adversely affect future nuclear power development in the world.

The nation’s power industry stepped up its efforts for nuclear power development after the 1973 oil crisis, and is now entering a new stage where it is expanding spent nuclear fuel reprocessing. However, if the Soviet accident turned out to be a serious one, it could exacerbate the Japanese nuclear “allergy,” they said.

In this feature, which appears in Timeout on the third Sunday of each month, we delve into The Japan Times’ 115-year-old archive to present a selection of stories from the past. Stories may be edited for brevity. This week’s feature was compiled with the assistance of Mike Hamilton.