Wednesday, Feb. 7 1917

‘Moshi moshi’ girls in Tokyo to be increased

The telephone service was inaugurated in Japan in 1890 and at first the general public little appreciated this convenient medium of communication.

Strange to say, there prevailed at that time a queer superstition among people that a man who should have a telephone installed would fall a victim to an epidemic and despite the efforts of the authorities to invite subscribers, it is on record how only 155 persons applied for telephone connections.

Time has changed all this, for the number of installed telephones totals some 43,000 now, and the number of applications for connection is far in excess of the number of installations that the authorities can undertake. There are nine exchanges in Tokyo at present where about 2,600 telephone girls are at work, and the number of conversations on the telephone in Tokyo averages some 1 million per day.

In this connection it is said that geisha houses make the best use of telephones of all subscribers of the different professions.

It is understood that the Department of Communications proposes to start soon the training of telephone operatives at the rate of 230 girls every month for the ensuing year, “as the result of which the number of telephone girls in Tokyo exchanges will be increased to 3,000 within this year.

The authorities also plan to considerably increase the number of instruments at work to meet the increasing requirements and altogether ¥180,000 will be spent for the improvement of the telephone system.

Wednesday, Feb. 25, 1942

Roosevelt orders aliens to abandon homes

President Franklin Roosevelt’s high-handed action ordering 10,000 aliens residing chiefly in the West Coast of the United States to abandon their homes has deeply shocked Christian circles in Japan, according to Domei. “This is one of the cruelest acts ever inflicted upon a helpless minority and it is one of the most dastardly acts ever carried out by a so-called Christian nation,” Domei said.

Pointing out that Roosevelt’s action has brought a vehement protest from his own people, with the American Civil Liberties Union protesting against the executive order as “unprecedented and founded on no specific evidence of need,” Domei maintains that this is definite proof Roosevelt has at last seen fit to disregard all canons of decent humanitarian behavior and has decided to ignore the people’s guaranteed constitutional rights and ruthlessly carry out his policies regardless of protests.

Christian quarters here, moreover, pointed out that many of those aliens, who were ordered to move, will lose all means of learning livelihood, while many will lose fruits of honest hard work.

Friday, Feb. 17 1967

Police seek suspect for Tokyo airport bombing

A warrant of arrest issued Thursday for Atsushi Aono, 22, charging him with attempted murder in the explosion that injured two man Wednesday evening at Tokyo International Airport terminal.

The motive remained a mystery but police believed he had attempted to destroy an All Nippon Airways plane and kill a friend whose seat was booked under Aono’s name. There were no clues as to the whereabouts of Aono who disappeared from the airport shortly before the explosion. The explosion, which occurred in the men’s rest room adjacent to the Sky Room Restaurant shortly after 7 p.m., ripped a hole in the floor, smashed the ceiling, tiled walls and stools and damaged mirrors and the ceiling of the women’s rest room.

Investigation revealed that the suspect and his unidentified girlfriend took Honda into the rest room. Aono left the rest room before Honda, leaving his briefcase behind.

The blast occurred soon after Aono came out of the rest room, police said. The three appeared in the airport lobby an hour before the explosion and Aono reserved a seat in an All Nippon Airways 8:30 p.m. flight to Osaka after finding that no seats were available for Nagoya.

Aono disappeared from the lobby when the blast occurred and the flight left for Osaka without Aono, police said. Police were certain the explosive had been dynamite. Honda told police Aono had asked him to fly to Osaka with the briefcase with the promise that he would be paid ¥200,000 later for the trouble. He said he refused the trip when he was told the briefcase contained a time bomb. It was then that Aono took him to the rest room.

Saturday, Feb. 15, 1992

Four executives seized in Tokyo Sagawa case

Four executives were arrested Friday on suspicion of aggravated breach of trust resulting in huge losses for the trucking firm Tokyo Sagawa Kyubin.

Sources close to the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office identified those arrested as former Tokyo Sagawa President, Hiroyasu Watanabe, 57; a former company director, Jun Saotome, 53; Heiwado Realty President Yasuo Matsuzawa; and Michio Ouchi, a chief accountant of golf course developer Ichihara Kanko Co. Watanabe and Saotome are accused of extending up to ¥500 billion in interest-free and collateral-free loans and loan guarantees to Heiwado and Ichihara Kanko group companies in full knowledge that the money would not be repaid, the sources said.

The investigation is also expected to focus on alleged flow of the parcel delivery firm’s money to the underworld and to numerous politicians. Watanabe and Saotome are believed to have been interrogated at the start of the probe, which has involved raids since Thursday on over a dozen locations, including those linked to the Inagawa-kai underworld syndicate. In loans and loan guarantees, about ¥100 billion was allegedly provided to companies affiliated with Susume Ishii, the late head of Inagawa-kai, who allegedly used some of the money on stock speculation and development of golf courses and resorts.

Compiled by Elliott Samuels. In this feature, which appears on the first Sunday of each month, we delve into The Japan Times’ archive to present a selection of stories from the past. This month’s edition was collated with the assistance of Cecilia Coly. For more details, see jtimes.jp/de.

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