100 YEARS AGO
Wednesday, March 8 1916
Outlook bleak for hotel keepers this spring
The spring months are usually the busiest of the whole year for hotel keepers in the country, the number of foreigners visiting Japan in April and May for the cherry blossom season being considerable. The war, however, is affecting this as it is almost every other branch of business. Since war broke out, says a member of the Imperial Hotel staff, there has been practically no foreigners visiting this country purely for pleasure, and few inquiries have been received regarding hotel accommodation as was the case before the war. There are some 40 guests at the Imperial, but they have come over for business purposes only. Nor are prospects of improvement very bright, our informant being of the opinion that this state of affairs will unfortunately continue for the duration of the war.
75 YEARS AGO
Thursday, March 6, 1941
Rural districts, women prodded to use radio
Approximately 400,000 pamphlets of two different kinds will be distributed throughout the country by the Broadcasting Corporation of Japan (forerunner of NHK) on March 20 with the object of encouraging people in agrarian and fishing districts and women to make more use of the radio.
While 97 percent of the population in Germany have radio sets, only 30 percent of the people in Japan possess means of hearing radio broadcasts, placing Japan in the 18th rank among the nations of the world. Contrasted with 97 percent of German women listening in to the radio, only 40 percent of the Japanese women resort to this cultural means.
In view of the above situation, resulting in a great cultural loss to the nation, the Broadcasting Corporation of Japan will issue the following pamphlets, “Why the people must listen to the radio” and “Women in wartime should first of all hear the radio.”
The pamphlets, which contain from 24 to 28 pages, tell the reason why it is necessary for the people to make use of the radio, that the radio is not a mere amusement, and other items regarding the necessity of propagating the use of the radio in wartime.
50 YEARS AGO
Wednesday, March 30, 1966
South Korea to release detained fishing crew
The Government of the Republic of Korea informed the Foreign Office Tuesday night that the fishing boat No. 53 Kaiyo Maru and its full crew, captured March 14 allegedly in Korean waters, will be handed over at a point 38 kilometers south of Komun Island at 11 a.m. today.
The Maritime Safety Agency will dispatch a patrol boat to receive the ship and its crew.
The Foreign Office plans to begin negotiations with South Korea on ways to prevent a recurrence of territorial disputes in the Korea Strait immediately after the release of the No. 53 Kaiyo Maru and its crew.
Meanwhile, Kinya Niizeki, director of the Public Information and Cultural Affairs Bureau in the Foreign Office said the South Korean decision to free the fishing boat was “a matter of great joy.”
He added it was most important for Japan and South Korea to work out ways to prevent any incident that might impair their relations from happening again.
Informed sources said the Foreign Office hopes to begin talks with South Korea as soon as possible on such measures as equipping Japanese and South Korean patrol boats with better navigation instruments and exchanging inspectors who will board each other’s patrol vessels.
25 YEARS AGO
Thursday, March 7, 1991
Embassy assisted Americans in Kuwait
The Foreign Ministry confirmed Wednesday that the Japanese Embassy in Kuwait gave refuge to 16 U.S. nationals during the first days of the Gulf crisis last August.
The ministry had earlier remained silent about the matter, despite receiving a letter from U.S. Secretary of State James Baker in late August formally thanking Foreign Minister Taro Nakayama for the embassy’s “humanitarian assistance.”
Officials explained there was concern that making the matter public, even after the Americans had left their hiding place, might lead to Iraqi reprisals against Japanese citizens.
According to the ministry, shortly after Iraq’s Aug. 3 invasion of Kuwait, the U.S. Embassy there requested the Japanese Embassy to provide refuge for 16 of its personnel, as well as women and children living in the vicinity.
Since foreign residents in Kuwait feared being taken into custody by Iraqi forces if seen in public, the Japanese Embassy, which is some distance from the U.S. Embassy, provided a safe haven for the Americans Aug. 4-13.
On Aug. 13, the group was smuggled past Iraqi personnel and taken back to the U.S. Embassy.
While Japanese were venturing out during the day to shop for food and goods, the Iraqi government had issued orders that Americans were to be forcibly detained as “guests” in a Kuwait hotel.
Japanese staying at the embassy feared reprisals from the Iraqi government if it was discovered that the embassy was hiding the group, but agreed among themselves to say nothing that might lead to their discovery.
A Japanese woman who was holed up in the embassy at the same time said, “We were told that when we looked at the Americans, we should only see the wall, and were forced to remain silent.”
“We stayed in a basement room with the Americans and shared the same cooking facilities, but were separated by a glass partition ,” she said. “One night I could hear them singing the U.S. national anthem, and the next day they were gone.”
In this feature, which appears on the first Sunday of each month, we delve into The Japan Times’ 118-year archive to present a selection of stories from the past. This month’s edition was collated with the assistance of Atticus Massari. The Japan Times’ entire archive is now available to purchase in digital format. For more details, see jtimes.jp/de.
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5