100 YEARS AGO
SUNDAY, AUG. 5, 1917
A message from Urawa states that one Miyo Sekine, a woman of 49 years, living at Hirakata-mura, Kita-Adachigori, Saitama Prefecture, committed suicide by throwing herself into a well in her neighborhood on Thursday. The woman picked up the other day a ¥5 bank note lost by one Hidekichi Shimadzu in her village but did not report it to the police. Hidekichi on the other hand lamented over the loss of the bank note, so much so that he at last killed himself by throwing himself into the Arakawa River on July 25. When Miyo heard of this, she was tormented with keen remorse, which finally led to her rash act.
75 YEARS AGO
Tuesday, Aug. 18, 1942
Experts debate need of language for sphere
The question of the language of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere demands an urgent solution as the great task of realizing the idea of the sphere progresses.
Odoru Kenmochi, an expert in matters relating to language, has the following to say on this question:
It is plainly evident that no language has greater claim to be the language of the Co-Prosperity Sphere than the Japanese language. This is the language of the country which is leading the races and the people of Greater East Asia. Moreover, it has been increasingly used in Manchoukuo since the Manchurian Affair, and in China since the China Affair. Thanks to the brilliant victories scored by the Imperial Forces in Greater East Asia , Japanese is coming into general use throughout East Asia.
Some people talk of the difficulty of learning the Japanese language. However, these people have in mind the complicated system of expressing in characters the words of the language. This is a question of form and is not essential.
Intrinsically, Japanese is far simpler than any of the languages of Europe. Dr. Kanae Sakuma says that Japanese is better suited than any other language to be the international language, and gives some features of the Japanese language on which he bases this contention:
1. The vocal sounds are simple.
2. The system of demonstrative words is complete.
3. The inflections of verbs and adjectives are simple and clear.
4. There are no rules concerning grammar such as gender, case, number.
5. There is a method of expressing the tense and mood which may be regarded as complete.
6. The method of expressing number is simple and quite according to reason.
Everything points to the fact that Japanese is best fitted to be the language of East Asia than any other tongue in the world.
50 YEARS AGO
Tuesday, Aug. 22, 1967
Iconic Ginza streetcars are on their way out
The streetcars that have tootled along Ginza, Tokyo’s most glamorous shopping center for the past 56 years, will bow out by the end of the year.
The Ginza lines, one running from Kyobashi to Shimbashi along Ginza Street, and the other, from Sukiyabashi through Ginza to Miharabashi near the Kabuki Theater, are the first among Tokyo’s total 37 tram lines that will completely disappear from the world’s most populous metropolis five years from now.
“Poverty can never overtake diligence” says an old Japanese proverb. But this strikes an untrue, ridiculous sound for the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.
Because officials of the bureau know from painful experience that the harder the tram motormen and conductors work, the deeper their bureau sinks in the red.
In recent months, the tram service has been losing money at the rate of ¥100 for each running kilometer. To keep Tokyo’s 37 tram lines with a total extension of 194 kilometers in operation every day means an additional deficit of ¥20 million a day.
The worsening traffic situation is the direct cause of the deficit. The average speed of a streetcar dropped from 14 kilometers per hour to 11.9 kilometers over the past 10 years. As a natural result of slowed speeds, streetcars lost passengers and revenue declined. This is the main reason why Tokyo Gov. Ryokichi Minobe was forced to clear Tokyo streets of old trams.
For another, the tram service has outlived its usefulness as a means of transport. Today, the tram people live in humiliation and despair because they know the image of the streetcar has been reduced to that of a “big old clumsy good-for-nothing” conveyance in the eyes of daily commuters by subway and bus, especially car drivers.
According to the Traffic Bureau, the abolition of the tram service will affect some 3,000 motormen, conductors and other workers. But practically all of them will be given new jobs in other sections of the metropolitan government, the officials said.
25 YEARS AGO
Sunday, Aug. 2, 1992
Smoking ban starts at Yamanote Line stations
All 29 Yamanote Line stations in metropolitan Tokyo implemented smoking bans on Saturday, East Japan Railway Co. officials said. However, the company has provided one or two smoking areas at each stop, they said.
The officials said that if the move on the Yamanote Line wins passenger support, they will expand the ban to other stations on other lines.
JR East has removed all ashtrays at Yamanote Line stations, except in smoking areas, and has provided new signs identifying smoking areas. At each of the stations on Saturday, railway workers used public address systems to reiterate the request that passengers cooperate with the ban.
However, not everyone affiliated with JR East is happy with the move. Officials of East Japan Kiosk, a subsidiary of JR East, lamented the campaign, saying the regulations will probably hurt cigarette sales at the stations. The officials said Yamanote Line passengers annually buy ¥10 billion worth of cigarettes at platform kiosks.
In this feature, we delve into The Japan Times’ 120-year archive to present a selection of stories from the past. The Japan Times’ entire archive is now available to purchase in digital format. For more details, see jtimes.jp/de.