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Japan 1943: ‘Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto dies a gallant death in action’

by Elliott Samuels

Staff Writer

100 YEARS AGO
Thursday, May 2, 1918

Brave little girl saves father from burglar

A brave little girl faced an armed robber who broke into the house of Naojiro Naito, a grocer of Nippori, a suburb of Tokyo, at midnight on the 29th of last month.

The noise awoke the master of the house and the unwelcome visitor threatened him with a short sword and the usual phrase, “Your money or your life!”

Fourteen-year-old Otsuru, the eldest daughter of the house, who was sleeping in the next room, ran up to the robber and appealed to him to save her father and instead take her own life.

She entreated so pitifully that the rogue was moved by the affectionate and courageous little girl, and left the house without further molesting the family, carrying away ¥30 that Naito gave him.

The robber was arrested on Monday morning while viewing the cherry flowers at Arakawa.


75 YEARS AGO
Saturday, May 22, 1943

Admiral Yamamoto dies gallantly in action

Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, commander-in-chief of the Combined Fleet, died a gallant death in a plane during an engagement with the enemy while personally directing the general strategic operations on the front line in April, it was revealed in an announcement issued by the Imperial headquarters on Friday.

“His Majesty the Emperor on receiving word that that Admiral Yamamoto was in a dangerous condition graciously appointed him to the Supreme War Council of Marshals and Fleet Admirals and by special Imperial favor conferred on him with the Grand Order of the Chrysanthenum and First Class Order of the Golden Kite,” Navy Minister Shigetaro Shimada said.

“Ever since the outbreak of war, the late Fleet-Admiral has personally directed operations in the midst of the fiercest fighting, thus uplifting the morale of the officers and men under him. His end is a logical consequence of his inspiring practice of going into the thick of fighting. He was killed during a stirring air combat with the enemy on the foremost line. Every member of the combined fleet on hearing the report of his heroic death was moved to every fiber of his being and vowed that the enemy pay dearly for the death of this great commander.

“We are deeply pained over the death of Admiral Yamamoto especially at a momentous phase of the war as present, when our very national fortunes are to be decided, but the Imperial Navy remains absolutely unshaken by his passing. Under the August virtues of His Imperial Majesty, its fighting morale has only been heightened by the heroic example of one of its leaders and its determination to smash the enemy only intensified. The Imperial Navy now pledges redoubled efforts to live up to the August expectation of His Imperial Majesty.


50 YEARS AGO
Thursday, May 9, 1968

Mysterious disease blamed on mine

A mysterious bone disease that has hit Toyama Prefecture is attributable to industrial waste from the Kamioka Mine of Mitsui Mining and Smelting Co., the Health and Welfare Ministry announced today.

The announcement meant that the goverment had reached a “verdict” on a four-year dispute on the cause of a strange endemic disease known as the itai-itai (ouch-ouch) disease.

The ministry identified the chemical responsible for the disease as cadmium, found in the drainage from Mitsui Mining and Smelting’s cadmium mine at Kamioka in Toyama Prefecture on the upper reaches of the River Jintsu.

The disease, known for the past 20 years, has been afflicting people, chiefly women, in the downstream town of Fuchu, and its environs in Nei-gun, Toyama Prefecture. Between 100 and 200 persons are believed to have died of the insidious disease that slowly turns the victims’ bones brittle.

The chronic disease is believed to develop over a period of 30 years or more.

This was the first instance of such a public health incident involving a heavy metal being officially labeled a “public hazard.”

After the natural presence of a miminal content of cadmium in any soil or water is deducted, the abnormally large content of cadmium remaining can “only be blamed on the drainage of the Kamioka Mine,” the ministry said.

The fact that the mine has long been paying compensation to farmers in the lower valley of the river for crop damage caused by the drainage was noted as “supplementary proof.”


25 YEARS AGO
Sunday, May 16, 1993

The J. League is born! First match kicks off

Japan’s professional soccer league burst into life Saturday evening at Tokyo’s National Stadium as the J. League opened with a short but dazzling ceremony followed by the opening match between the Yokohama Marinos and Verdy Kawasaki.

The announcement of the team lineups proclaimed the start of the ¥100 million ceremony, and the “the Birthday of the J. League” appeared on a huge screen.

Amidst a flurry of skypiercing lasers, Michiya Haruhata, guitarist with the Japanese rock band Tube, played “Born To Win” and “J’s Theme,” the J. League’s theme song.

Huge flags of all 10 J. League clubs and the league itself were passed down over the crowd from the top of the stands.

J. League chairman Saburo Kawabuchi declared the league open: “Supported by many fans who love sports, the J. League now takes its first step today. On May 15, I declare the start of the J. League.”

The Marinos and Verdy players ran onto the pitch to the deafening cheers of a full-house crowd of 59,626. The Marinos edged Verdy in the opening match 2-1.

Japan’s Dutch manager, Hans Ooft, attended the ceremony and watched the match with his family. Ooft said with a smile, “I’m just one of the spectators today.”

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 collated with the assistance of Kayla Sturdevant. The Japan Times’ entire archive is now available to purchase in digital format. For more details, see jtimes.jp/de.