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Japan Times 1918: Captain Yoshita Masaki saved after insisting on going down with his ship

by Elliott Samuels

Staff Writer

100 YEARS AGO
Thursday, July 18 1918

Nothing definite has yet been ascertained as to the cause of the explosion on the Kawachi. It is supposed that the disaster was due to the ignition of powder or heavy oil. An eyewitness states that at the time of the explosion the thick yellow fumes of powder and the black smoke of the oil were both noticeable. The vessel is lying at a depth of nine fathoms and there is some hope that she may be refloated and once more take her place among the floating castles of the Japanese Navy as was the case of the Mikasa, which met with a similar fate several years ago at Sasebo.

Capt. Yoshita Masaki is said to have remained aboard his ship until the last moment, apparently determined to share her fate, and paying no heed to the officers and men who besought him to leave while there was yet time. It was necessary to take him by the arms and positively force him into the boat, and then he told those accompanying him that he would only survive so long as the cause of the disaster remained unknown. When everything had been cleared up, he said he would take proper steps to discharge his responsibilities.


75 YEARS AGO
Wednesday, July 14, 1943

First library for blind to hold opening rites

The building to house the first library for the blind in Japan has been completed at Suwa-cho, Yodobashi-ku, and the opening ceremonies will take place there on July 18. The project was started through the efforts of Kazuo Homma 20, who lost his eyesight when 6 years old, to start a library for the blind.

Realizing that very few facilities for cultural development were accessible to the blind, Homma had determined on the occasion of the 2600th year celebration of the founding of the Japanese Empire to dedicate his life to the construction of a library for the blind. His privately operated Braille library has been utilized by 1,200 persons up to the present and the average monthly circulation of the books amounted to 1,000 volumes.

“The library work cannot be done by the blind people alone, as the braille books must be produced for us by people who can see and, therefore I would earnestly ask for the cooperation and assistance of all,” Homma said.


50 YEARS AGO
Friday, July 5, 1968

Monkeys roam free in the streets of Osaka

Two monkeys hopped from roof to roof and roamed around busy shopping streets Thursday in Tennoji, Osaka, evading 30 zoo officials and 15 policemen.

They escaped from Tennoji Zoo at around 6:50 p.m. Wednesday after climbing over a 3.5-meter-tall fence of the popular Monkey Island, along with three others.

Out of the five animals, one was caught and two others returned to the zoo early Thursday morning.

A search for them was resumed at 3:30 a.m. under the direction of Tatsumi Wada, superintendent of the zoo’s southern gate during the search.

They did no harm to residents but one of them turned up at Shitennoji Gakuen, a girls’ school near the zoo at around 10 a.m. causing the classes to be suspended for 15 minutes. The animal romped around the school grounds and then entered a few classrooms braving the shrieks of panicky high school students.

It retreated into nearby streets when zoo officials came to the school with nets. The two runaway monkeys were still at large by late afternoon.


25 YEARS AGO
Sunday, July 18, 1993

The honeymoon ends when the baby arrives

One of the new phenomena surrounding child rearing in Japan is an increasing number of young mothers who seem to find little joy in raising their babies. One such mother was described in a letter from her parents who were asked to take care of her baby while she took an eight-day holiday with her husband to Hokkaido. The baby was just over 3 months old and according to the letter the grandparents were kept busy for 24 hours a day.

The letter ended by noticing that when the mother came home the baby refused to breastfeed. “It looked like the baby was retaliating,” the grandmother wrote.

The letter drew an avalanche of responses, according to the paper. Those criticizing the young mother’s action outnumbered those supporting her, the paper said and printed partial quotes of representative ones. Here are some of them.

“I can’t think of leaving my baby for any length of time because I’m so fond of him. While taking care of my son, I thought of the toils and troubles my mother must have had in raising me in the northern part of Japan in the severe winter. To ask for an eight-day holiday because she had taken care of her baby for three months is outrageous” — Housewife, 33, Sendai

“I always tell my daughter I won’t take care of her crying baby. A grandmother is helpless when faced with a baby crying in search of her mother’s milk. I’ve told her I would give whatever help I could but I wouldn’t allow her to take advantage of my sympathy.” — Housewife, 59, Ibaraki Prefecture

“Raising a kid of 3 years and a 1-year old baby, I am keeping quite active taking aerobics and sign language lessons and enjoying my time with my baby and small child. I don’t think I’m being sacrificed for the little ones nor am I sacrificing them for my sake. If you have to depend on someone to help every time you have a trying time then you should not have had a baby.” — Housewife, 26, Nagano

“If your husband is not cooperative, your stress from child raising could become unbearable. There are all kinds of babies — some quite gentle and others hard to control. I think it’s better to seek the help of your friends and parents and get some time to breathe than to handle the baby with meanness as a result of accumulated stress.” — Housewife, 26, Fukuoka

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 George Thomas. The Japan Times’ entire archive is now available to purchase in digital format. For more details, see jtimes.jp/de.