Sunday, April 21, 1918

A private street-car company, the Mino Denki Kido Kaisha, in the Nagoya district, following the example in other belligerent countries has made the interesting experiment of employing women conductors.

Three girls, all under 20 years of age, have been on trial for some days and, according to all reports, are giving great satisfaction, both to the company and to the passengers. Already, says one correspondent, they cry “Ugokimasu!” and “Sho, sho, nakahodo ni negaimasu,” with truly professional aplomb, and ring the bell — “Chin! Chin!” — as to the manner born.

One of them, it is said, has a license to teach in elementary schools. They wear dark clothes like business girls and rubber boots, and work from 7 a.m. for seven hours daily. At present they are receiving 20 sen per day, but when they pass the probationary period they will receive 30 sen per day, with ¥5 per month extra.

Wednesday, April 14, 1943

Eye-witness report on bombing of Merauke

Landings and warehouses on the waterfront of the enemy’s base at Morauke in New Guinea were blown to bits when a Japanese air formation raided it recently. In one of the planes which made up the formation, I experienced the greatest thrill of my life when the bomber squadron arrived over Merauke only a short distance away from York Peninsula in Australia.

It was on the morning of a clear day when we left our base, sent off cheerfully by the men of the ground crew and Papuan natives. In no time we were flying at a high altitude amidst numerous shreds of clouds, which added a grey film to the verdant scenery which unfolded below us.

Soon the city of Merauke came into clear sight. The moment for the attack had at last come! I watched the squadron commander’s plane closely and was soon rewarded with the sight of numerous black objects dropping straight for the waterfront below. It was but an instant from the time when I heard the hollow sound of the rack release guns until I saw red flashes on the landing pier, followed immediately by a giant upheaval which seemed to hurl the whole waterfront works into the air all at once.

Soon bombs were raining on the city and huge columns of smoke rose high into the sky from three places. Enemy anti-air shells next began to explode like so many cotton balls far below us.

Then suddenly I heard the deep staccato of our plane’s machine gun pierce the compressed air of the cabin’s interior. “Enemy planes?” I instinctively looked about me. But no, our machine gun was raking the enemy below with a last farewell volley.

The formation was soon circling widely to the right to start on its homeward journey. From the commander’s plane, the report was dispatched to home base that our operation had been a complete success.

Tuesday, April 23, 1968

Historic architecture disappearing in Tokyo

Tokyo is undergoing the kind of architectural metamorphosis that is prevalent in many other major cities of the world. Old brick buildings of historical value are disappearing one by one as modern curtain-wall buildings are jutting up everywhere.

American architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1923 Imperial Hotel has been razed and foundation is now being laid there for a 17-story annex of the hotel, which is scheduled to be opened in 1970. In the business district of Marunouchi near Tokyo Central Station, the 1894 English-style Mitsubishi Higashi (East) No. 9 Building is being dismantled. Another red-brick building near the Imperial Palace, the 1909 masonry that once was the headquarters of the Imperial Guard Division, faces the possibility of demolition.

The symbol of Tokyo’s modern architecture is the newly opened 36-story Kasumigaseki Building, the highest-ever building in Japan. Indications are that the space-short Tokyo will have more and more high-rise buildings. Plans are now afoot to build the 38-story Trade Center and the 30-story Tokio Marine and Fire Insurance Building in downtown Tokyo.

With the work of razing in progress on the Mitsubishi Higashi No. 9 Building, the National Commission for Protection of Cultural Properties is looking for a site for its possible preservation. The owner of the brick masonry, Mitsubishi Estate Co., says it is willing to pay for the removal of the 744-year-old building.

The building, designed by U.K. architect Josiah Conder, was completed in 1984 at the former site of a military parade ground that is now part of the Marunouchi district. Conder was instrumental in introducing English style of brick masonry into Japan. Similar brick buildings once lined a block of a street in Darunouchi and people called that block “London in Tokyo.”

Mitsubishi bagan to tear down these buildings in the late 1950s and an alarmed National Commission for Protection of Cultural Properties asked the Tokyo firm in 1960 not to demolish the the Mitsubishi Higashi No. 9 Building, the last remaining building in the “London” block. Mitsubishi nonetheless began the dismantling work on it last month.

Thursday, April 15, 1993

Local offices still restrict foreigners

Nearly half of all local governments still bar foreign nationals from taking jobs in their offices, the All Japan Prefectural and Municipal Workers’ Union said Wednesday.

The union said its provisional results are based on responses from a third of the nation’s local governments, or 38 prefectures and 1,123 towns and cities, in a survey carried out last April.

Of all the prefectures and specially designated cities, only Tokushima Prefecture now bars foreigners from all jobs.

Since a 1990 survey by the union, Ibaraki, Wakayama and Okinawa prefectures have partially lifted the blanket restriction. In Miyagi, Nagano, Ishikawa, Fukuoka and Gifu prefectures and the ordinance-designated city of Kitakyushu, the number of jobs open to foreigners in administrative offices has greatly increased.

However when cities, towns and villages are included in the list, 537 local governments, or 46.3 percent, bar foreigners from all areas of employment.

Foreigners are permitted employment in some areas at 272 local governments, while the ban is not in force at 352 local governments, or 30.3 percent.

In this feature, we delve into The Japan Times’ 120-year archive to present a selection of stories from the past. This month’s edition was compiled with the assistance of Kayla Sturdevant and Max Burt. The Japan Times’ entire archive is now available to purchase in digital format. For more details, see jtimes.jp/de.

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