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This month in history: ‘Tokyo visited by the greatest typhoon’ and more

by

Staff Writer

100 YEARS AGO
Saturday, Oct. 6 1917

Tokyo visited by the greatest typhoon

A typhoon such as is rarely experienced in Tokyo at this time of year set in at about 1 a.m. on Monday and accompanied by heavy rain raged intermittently until dawn, causing considerable destruction and even deaths.

The number of deaths from the typhoon and floods alarmingly increases hour by hour. According to the Metropolitan Police, the death toll in Tokyo is announced of 466, of which Kasai and Sunamura villages account for 336. These two suburban villages suffered most heavily from the floods, and the havoc wrought there and the suffering of the flood-ridden villages and beyond imagination.

Todaijima, a small island off Urayasu-machi, Chiba Prefecture, was completely wiped out of existence by the sea, with all the islanders on it when the typhoon was at its height. It is reported that there were about 300 inhabitants on this little island, but not one of them has survived to tell the tale of the wholesale destruction. A relief party was dispatched to visit the island, but when it reached the scene it was greatly surprised to find nothing where it had once been.

Meanwhile, it is reported that the coast of Kambe Village, Boshu, Chiba Prefecture, was invaded by the high seas and rice fields near the shore were swamped. On Monday, some farmers discovered, to their great surprise, five whales disporting themselves in the rice field under water and caught them all. Each whale is reported to measure over 20 feet in length.

The typhoon is the worst storm to hit Tokyo Bay in the past 100 years.


75 YEARS AGO
Tuesday, Oct. 20, 1942

Crew of U.S. bombers severely punished

Captured members of the crews of the American warplanes that raided the mainland of Japan on April 18 who ignored the principles of humanity by bombing schools and hospitals and killing noncombatants have been severely punished in accordance with military law, according to a statement issued by the Chief of the Army Press Section of the Imperial Headquarters on Monday.

The punishment was meted out as a result of the investigation of the captured enemy airmen, the statement said.

Issued the same day was a proclamation by the commander of the General Headquarters for Home Defense to the effect that crews of any enemy aircraft raiding Japan, Manchouko or areas of Japanese military operations committing inhuman acts will be punishable even with death.

During the investigations, it has been revealed that they stated that it was a proper act for them to deliberately bomb or burn hospitals, schools, civilian homes, etc that are not military establishments.

They killed noncombatants even after clearly recognizing an objective as a primary school and seeing many children at play in the school grounds with the sudden thought of, “Let’s give the Japs hell,” diving and machine gunning deliberately and indiscriminately. On the grounds that the Japanese cannot tolerate such a cruel and depraved mentality nor such a cowardly and outrageous action, the army has, therefore, in accordance with military law, severely dealt with these Americans who have perpetrated such an outrage against humanity.


50 YEARS AGO
Monday, Oct. 2, 1967

Ginza sees first and last Japan Times ‘tram tour’

Perhaps the most curious sight on the Ginza Sunday was a caravan of five street cars full of assorted gaijin, sprinkled with a very few English-speaking Japanese.

The occasion, of course, was The Japan Times’ first and last annual Ginza Streetcar Tour — the first, because nobody thought of it before, and the last because the Ginza streetcars are due to disappear by the end of the year. One hundred and ten passengers, mostly Caucasian and ranging in hair color from strawberry blond to billiard bald, joined the tour, which began at Shinagawa Station and ended at Hyakkaen Garden near the Sumida River.

Unfortunately, a light drizzle prevented the complete exploration of Hyakkean Gardens, where a closing party was held, but few seemed to care as they cozily huddled in the garden’s shelters, enjoying their free beer and peanuts and taking in the scenery, which included the international array of passengers themselves: Germans and Filipinos speaking English; Americans and Europeans speaking Japanese; and a healthy number of charming young ladies.


25 YEARS AGO
Saturday, Oct. 10, 1992

Rush hour may be making ‘salarymen’ fit

Weaving in and out of rush hour throngs to keep pace with a break-neck work schedule has helped Japanese men grow stronger and more agile over the past decade, researchers suggested Friday.

Surprisingly, Japanese fathers, much-maligned as weekend couch potatoes, actually registered better scores in a battery of five strength and agility tests than their counterparts 10 years ago.

Led by Tsukuba University professor Yoshiyuki Matsuura, researchers suggested that one cause for the improvement was a reduction in work hours and introduction of two-day weekends in some companies, allowing office workers time to recover physically. The team also suggested that the stress-laden life of the “salaryman” has led to physically stronger specimens.

Men in all age groups living in metropolitan areas scored better that those in the countryside in a timed side-to-side jumping test, which researchers said approximated the office workers’ efforts to avoid colliding with people during rush hour.

Men aged 30-59 registered their best average time since 1974 in the zigzag basketball dribble test and about a second better than the average 10 years ago.

In the side-to-side jumping test for agility, the men in each group, with the exception of the 45- to 49-year-olds, managed an average of two to four more jumps during the 20-second test period than their counterparts in 1974.

In this feature, we delve into The Japan Times’ 120-year archive to present a selection of stories from the past. The Japan Times’ archive is now available to purchase in digital format. For more details, see jtimes.jp/de.