National / History | JAPAN TIMES GONE BY

The German mischief maker here; Eating in London is real problem; New effort to rectify Japan’s image planned; Ad-zapping VCR gains popularity

by Edan Corkill

Special To The Japan Times

100 YEARS AGO
Wednesday, May 17, 1916

Few realize the menace of resident Germans

Count Okuma, judging from his utterances a few days ago, is not unaware of the menace of the German in Japan. He says the German is to be eliminated as a factor or force of evil in and from the Far East. So far so good. It is easy to understand the difficulties which face the Government in this work of complete elimination, how the heads of Departments hesitate to take the step that must work hardship upon a few Germans who have been connected with business and the education of Japan for many years and are perhaps harmless. But unpleasant as it may be, the step must be taken.

Few people realize how great, how harmful and how subtle and unscrupulous is the work of the German in intrigue and in propaganda throughout the Far East. It is well known to the authorities here that the German agents are at work in nearly every walk of life in Japan. In many cases the propagandists have succeeded in attracting sympathy and friendship and profit from the allies and especially the British.


75 YEARS AGO
Thursday, May 1, 1941

Japanese in U.K. feeling pinch of food shortages

Japanese residents of London, being of course partial to fish and rice as staples of diet, had so far not been much affected by the food shortages in the city as a result of the war with Germany. They are, however, now beginning to feel the pinch owing to the fact that Londoners are commencing to eat rice, according to a special dispatch to the Nichi Nichi from the British capital.

“The food question in London,” the report says, “is gradually assuming a serious aspect and if it is not taken in hand by the Government it will threaten the security of life of the citizens.

“The life of Londoners, especially in the case of people of the middle classes and downward, is becoming hard owing to increasing difficulties in the matter of foodstuffs. There people cannot get sufficient food, even of the articles of diet that are rationed. And as for the articles of food that are not rationed they are simply beyond the reach of this class of the population for the reason that they are sold only reluctantly and are being hoarded by those who can get them.

“One of the most remarkable rises is seen in the price of fresh fish. The average price of fish is from two to three times as high as the figures ruling at same time last year, naturally affected the lives of the Japanese residents. Now, coming on all-fours with the rocketing cost of fish is the scarcity of rice owing to Londoners becoming rice-eaters also.

“Conditions as regards rice are now such that the average Japanese household in London cannot get more than one sho (a little more than 1.6 quarts) for a week’s supply per household, and when it is considered that the Government will not allot any more tonnage to the transport of more rice from abroad, these rice-eating Japanese will soon find themselves in a tight corner as regards their food, it is feared.

“All this refers to the situation as it exists today, but what of the future? The outlook is not improving nor is it promising and it is difficult to see that it will not become more serious as time passes.”


50 YEARS AGO
Thursday, May 5, 1966

Effort to rectify Japan’s image overseas planned

The Foreign Office this year will make a renewed effort to create a correct image of Japan in the world’s mind with special emphasis on the enlightenment of elementary and high school students abroad on present-day Japan and its people.

Despite efforts made during the past decade by the Foreign Office in this field, Mount Fuji and geisha still symbolize Japan in the eyes of most foreign students.

According to a survey released Wednesday, a high school textbook in France still carries a picture of a Japanese man wearing a topknot and a sword and of two thinly-clad men shouldering a palanquin against a silhouette of Mount Fuji. Also in the same textbook, the Japanese house is described as made of bamboo and paper.

A primary school in Australia some time ago reported that children drew pictures of Mount Fuji and geisha when asked to do some drawings on the subject of Japan.

In an effort to wipe out such misconceptions, the Foreign Office printed 2,550,000 copies of overseas literary publicity data in 25 different languages in 1965 for distribution through Japanese diplomatic establishments abroad.

The Foreign Office believes that if Japan could enlighten students on modern Japan, they would become fully-fledged members of society with a better understanding of Japan and its people.


25 YEARS AGO
Saturday, May 4, 1991

Demand for ad-zapping VCR is on the upswing

Videocassette recorders that automatically eliminate television commercials during recording or playback are gaining popularity with consumers, industry sources said. Demand for these new VCRs is on the upswing, according to shopkeepers at electronics stores in Tokyo’s Akihabara district.

The new machines contain a device that automatically shuts off the recording function when it reads the commercial transmission signal and restarts the regular TV program, sources said.

Networks and sponsors fear an onslaught of the new VCRs on the Japanese market. TV networks have opposed the systems because they fear sponsors will pay less for commercial time. The networks say the machines are unfair to sponsors, sources said.

As a countermove, the networks are reportedly devising a way to override the function by which the VCR knows to cut out commercials.

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 James Sherpa. The Japan Times’ entire archive is now available to purchase in digital format. For more details, see jtimes.jp/de.