100 YEARS AGO
Saturday, March 31 1917
Hundreds of snakes found in Tokyo park
About 300 snakes and adders of various descriptions and color which were, as previously reported, captured by coolies near the sluice-gate at Inokashira, a suburb, some time ago have been set free in the hills near by. The coolies intended to kill them, but superstitious inhabitants in the neighborhood have strongly agitated against this, crying in sober earnest that these snakes are messengers from kannon, or the goddess of fortune, and that woes would befall them should the snakes be dispatched. The coolies, it is said, have been thus obliged to give the snakes freedom in the hills.
75 YEARS AGO
Wednesday, March 4, 1942
Abolish or continue study of English?
Because it is spoken by Japan’s enemy nations, the English language has fallen into discredit in this country, and there is even an outcry for its abolition. At the recent Conference of the Presidents of the High Schools throughout the country, the question of reducing the hours devoted to the study of foreign languages at these educational institutions was taken up and the decision was reached in favor of reduction. While regarding this decision as inevitable in view of Japan’s present position, Sanki Ichikawa, a professor of Tokyo Imperial University, denounces as superficial the view which is finding vigorous expression in some Japanese quarters in support of the abolition of foreign languages.
As quoted by the Nichi Nichi, Ichikawa says that as the English language is spoken in China, Thailand, French Indo-China and the southern islands, the need for its study will rather increase as the work of constructing the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere progresses. From the point of view of cultural war also, the professor says, he cannot endorse the abolition of the study of foreign languages. To study a foreign language is one thing, and to become “foreignized” is quite another, he stresses.
Some people urge that the Government should establish a Translation Bureau and that the translation of foreign books and the publication of such translations should be undertaken by this bureau. This idea may be practicable insofar as the translation of popular or standard books is concerned, but it will be well-nigh impossible to expect such a Government bureau to translate foreign books in specialized or technical lines. For such circumstances the need for the study of foreign languages will remain.
50 YEARS AGO
Thursday, March 9, 1967
The future of nuclear energy looking bright
Japan is steadily entering an age of full-scale commercial development of nuclear energy for electric power generation, expecting a total supply of 5,240,000 kilowatts of power from 11 power reactors in the next eight years. However, there is one big problem — the adequate supply of fuel, according to informed circles.
As far as nuclear energy facilities for power generation are concerned, the nation already has a record of a decade of research and experimentation. Japan’s delay behind Western nations in this respect has been inevitable due to its postwar circumstances, it was reported Monday.
Japan’s first commercial nuclear electric power plant of 166,000 kilowatts in capacity was put into operation May 4, 1965 at Tokai-mura, Ibaraki Prefecture, by Japan Atomic Power Co. of Tokyo, a joint venture of Japanese electric power companies and various electrical machinery makers concerned. Its Calder Hall-type reactor imported from Britain, has so far proved to be far from economical, they added.
But, in the past few years, there has been remarkable progress in Japan’s development of commercial nuclear power plants, with at least three new stations scheduled to be completed in the next three years, these circles said.
Citing a recent long-range electric power supply and demand program of the electric power industry’s central electric power council in Tokyo, informants said by 1975, Japan will have at least 11 nuclear power houses with a combined output of 5,240,000 kilowatts.
They attributed the remarkable progress in Japan’s efforts to supply itself with nuclear energy-generated electricity to the steadily improving performance of the first commercial reactor at Tokai-mura. Although not yet effective enough, the reactor has testified to the certainty that the next power plant of the kind to be built will pay off in the long run.
25 YEARS AGO
Saturday, March 28, 1992
Government acts to cut public workers’ hours
The government has begun revisiting the shift system for its employees following the Diet’s passage Friday of four bills guaranteeing public servants a five-day workweek, officials said.
The new system is expected to begin June 1 following Cabinet approval, officials said. Under the new regulations, public servants will be required to work 40 hours a week, or two hours less than at present.
In principle, the nation’s public offices will close on Saturdays because national government employees will no longer be required to work Saturdays.
An estimate by the Management and Coordination Agency shows that public servants will work 100 hours less than the current official annual 2,060 hours.
Shift workers at post offices patronized on weekends, state-run hospitals that are part of the national health system, customs offices and immigration offices, as well as museums and art galleries, will continue to work on Saturdays using a rotating shift system, but will work just 40 hours a week. The exceptions to the new regulations include workers in the postal service, printing facilities, the Mint and forestry offices.
The government has been trying to cut overtime in recent months after a young woman committed suicide due to overwork at Dentsu in December 2015.
In this feature, we delve into The Japan Times’ 119-year archive to present a selection of stories from the past. This month’s edition was collated with the assistance of Lena Knue. 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