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Imperial work ethic; Electric Society’s defiance; the ‘Flat Tire Bandit’; the state of AIDS


Thursday, July 20, 1911

The Emperor’s labors

Despite the excessive heat of these days, H.M. the Emperor is said to be enjoying excellent health and the best of spirits. His Majesty is assiduous in attending to State affairs demanding his attention, and every day he is always out at the Court from 9 o’clock in the morning till about 1 p.m., examining all the papers sent up for his decision. It is said that more than 10 documents daily receive his personal inspection.

Sunday, July 19, 1936

Electric Society shuns nationalization plan

The Japan Electric Society, which embraces all the nation’s electric power and light companies, has voiced its stand against the plan of the Ministry of Communications and the Investigation Bureau for the nationalization of electricity. This was done through the adoption of a strong resolution at the meeting of the Society’s special committee.

Representatives of the five largest electric power and light companies reached the unanimous conclusion that the nationalization plans proposed by the Government are not fair and appropriate as a measure for the control of the electric industry. The resolution contains the following points:

1. The electric industry control plan is inappropriate as a measure for lowering the cost of electricity to consumers and for promoting a further round of development of the electric industry.

2. It is extremely difficult to find any necessity or reasons for the Government to attempt to alter abruptly the structure of the electric industry. The authorities have not as yet even attempted to put into operation the revised Electric Law of 1932, under which the control and supervizing authority of the Government over the electric industry has been enlarged.

3. If the reported plan is based on the ideology of State socialism, as rumored, it would present a question of a grave nature involving all industries of the nation, and it is impossible to support such a plan until thorough investigations have been completed regarding its repercussions.

4. The Electric Society shall endeavor to form a united front to solve the present question.

Saturday, July 15, 1961

‘Flat Tire Bandit’ snatches ¥930,000

Tokyo’s “Flat Tire Bandit” has struck again!

This — his fifth caper in recent weeks — was against an 18-year-old youth en route to his father’s business establishment from a bank. The loot: ¥930,000!

In reconstructing the theft, police theorize that the bandit was outside that bank when the youth drove up in his car, parked and entered the bank to make a withdrawal. Noticing the lad receive a substantial amount of cash from the teller, the bandit quickly deflated a tire on the youth’s car.

When the youngster came out of the bank, he noticed the flat tire. Putting his money inside the car, he began to ready himself for the tire change. The bandit waited for the moment when the youngster’s back was turned, reached in and grabbed the money from the car and fled.

Police have alerted all patrolmen to be watchful of anyone lingering without apparent purpose near banks.

Saturday, July 5, 1986

AIDS numbers stun

During the last two weeks, the results of a major international conference on “Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome,” or “AIDS,” have been announced, and over the same period the world has updated its statistics of present and threatened pain.

The numbers stun. AIDS cases have doubled in Britain in the last 10 months; there are an estimated 50,000 AIDS victims in Africa; the United States’ present 21,000 cases of the “disease” (more precisely, the enhanced vulnerability to disease) are projected four years hence to reach 279,000, of which some 179,000 will die within the same period.

Amid the enveloping darkness, scientific hope may be the world community’s only salvation. A “full understanding” of the AIDS virus might be achieved by the end of the year. According to some experts, only a shortfall in research money will prevent the eventual discovery of a vaccine. Few scientists, however, are talking about a “cure.” Despite some promising beginnings (the most recent includes bone-marrow transplants), the needed research breakthrough may be many years off.

Plagues spread by human contact place enormous demands on a society’s reserves of tolerance. America, where the news coverage has been heaviest, has struggled heroically with the problem, but some fraying of the social fabric is beginning to appear: Witness the U.S. Justice Department’s ruling that an employee may be legally dismissed if he is thought to be infectious to his fellow employees.

Most Americans will most certainly avoid contracting AIDS, but how many will escape the fear of doing so? And it is the state of the public mind that will determine whether the victims receive adequate care and whether their rights are protected. Hence the need for public education on the facts about AIDS.

Such considerations make people like Carl Miller, 21, important. He is the new “AIDS liaison officer” (Britain’s first) for the city of Oxford. His task is to ensure that everyone in the city — 550,000 people — is fully informed about AIDS and knows how to avoid being infected by the virus.

The enlightened assumption behind Oxford’s program is that knowledge about AIDS will combat rumor, ignorance and panic. God help America today (where perhaps 1.5 million are already virus “carriers,” many of whom will develop AIDS), Europe tomorrow or even Japan (when?) if that assumption is wrong.

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 month’s feature was compiled with the assistance of Wade Bunnell.