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Train-shame death, anti-Comintern pact signed, Tokyo “paralyzed,” Japan and U.S. to halt yen rise against dollar


Saturday, Nov. 25, 1911

Train-shame death moves the Emperor

On the occasion of the recent trip of the Emperor to Kyushu, a slight railway accident took place at Moji Station (in Fukuoka Prefecture), which caused about an hour’s delay in the departure of the Court train from that station.

Soon after, Shozaburo Shimizu, who at the time had been in charge of train affairs at the station, committed suicide on the Sanyo railway tracks in atonement, as it was stated in his will, for his grave remissness of duty.

This pathetic story reaching the ears of the Emperor, His Majesty has been pleased to give the sum of ¥300 toward the funeral expenses, out of sympathy for the bereaved family.

An intimation of the Imperial graciousness has been transmitted to the family by the Minister of the Imperial Household, through Mr. Hirai, Vice-President of the Railway Board.

Friday, Nov. 27, 1936

Tokyo and Berlin ink anti-Comintern pact

A survey this morning indicated that the press and political circles of Japan have mostly approved the Germany-Japan agreement against the Comintern.

The pact was signed and announced Wednesday night, declaring that it would serve to maintain the peace of the Far East, as the activity of the Communist International (a Moscow-based international organization uniting Communist groups of various countries and advocating violent revolution) had been a serious threat to the peace and governments of many nations. But at the same time, there are some who express the view that the pact might benefit Germany more than Japan.

Prince Fumimaro Konoe, President of the House of Peers [who served as prime minister, 1937-39 and 1940-41], hopes that Japan will cooperate with not only Germany but also other powers, and says:

“The German-Japan agreement for cooperation for defense against Communistic disintegration is the proper measure for maintaining peace in Japan and also in the Far East, by which I believe, the national polity of Japan, and peace for the Far East will be protected. It is hoped that not only Japan and Germany will cooperate fully according to the agreement, but they will also cooperate with other powers for defending the world against the Comintern.”

Mr. Seijun Ando, chief secretary of the (opposition political party) Seiyukai, rejoices at the signing of the agreement, regarding it as a significant move in Japan’s diplomacy:

“The agreement is important as it represents a change from so-called isolation diplomacy to that of cooperation with other nations. Also, it indicates Japan’s contribution to the world welfare as Communism is to be rejected from the entire world. But if by the result of this agreement, any influence of the Nazis is brought into the country, it will be a serious misfortune, and the public must give their best attention for the maintenance and protection of their traditional spirit and thoughts. Even though the agreement is signed with Germany against the Comintern, it does not mean that we have come to regard the Soviet Union as an enemy.”

Tuesday, Nov. 21, 1961

Tokyo ‘paralyzed’

Traffic in downtown Tokyo within a radius of 2.5 km of Tokyo Station, the Ginza and the Imperial Palace, was paralyzed for more than three hours yesterday afternoon. The traffic jam was blamed by police on poor roads and congestion.

Traffic paralysis started about 3:30 p.m. between Hibiya and Kachidokibashi. Usually, congestion in that area is cleared in about one hour, but yesterday was an exception.

Due to the increasing stream of cars and other vehicles, the paralysis spread to other areas connecting Hibiya with Hanzomon, around the Imperial Palace, and Shinbashi. Streets filled with the din of honking horns from temper-frayed drivers and the whistles of frustrated policemen.

A slight jam at an intersection might have led to unprecedented congestion, the Metropolitan Police Department speculated last night.

Sunday, Nov. 1, 1986

Japan, U.S. agree to halt ¥ rise against $

Japan and the United States have agreed that there should be no further appreciation of the yen against the U.S. dollar, and that they would stem speculative foreign-exchange moves with coordinated intervention when deemed necessary, Finance Minister Kiichi Miyazawa said Friday afternoon.

In a surprise press conference, he issued a joint press statement in the name of U.S. Treasury Secretary James Baker and himself, which said they have “shared the view that exchange-rate instability can jeopardize stable economic growth.”

The statement follows the Bank of Japan’s decision Friday afternoon to lower its discount rate to a record low of 3 percent from 3.5 percent, effective today.

The statement further says:

“The exchange rate between the yen and the dollar since the (New York) Plaza Agreement is now broadly consistent with the present underlying (economic) fundamentals. (We reaffirm our) willingness to cooperate on exchange-market issues.”

Miyazawa told reporters that Japan had felt annoyed by remarks by a number of Americans seeking the yen’s further appreciation against the U.S. dollar because it would be detrimental to the growth of the Japanese economy. He added that the two countries have not set any target zone for the exchange rate. He said the yen’s exchange value would not go higher than where it has been recently.

The joint statement referred to Japanese commitments such as a supplementary budget, tax reforms and the discount rate cut, and to U.S. commitments to reduce Washington’s federal budget deficits, tax reforms and further efforts to stem protectionist measures.

The dollar shot up against the yen on the London Foreign Exchange Market Friday on reports that Japan and the U.S. have agreed to continue their cooperation to stabilize the yen-dollar exchange rate at the present level. After opening at ¥161.90-¥162.00, the dollar zoomed up to ¥163.50-70 later.

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.