100 YEARS AGO
Wednesday, April 30 1919
Fire destroys 3,700 buildings in Yokohama
The great fire which raged in Yokohama on Monday was the most destructive in the history of that city.
The latest reports say that 13 persons were severely injured and 61 slightly injured in the fire. Earlier reports that two children were burnt to death were not confirmed. The number of buildings destroyed is roughly calculated at 3,700 or over, and more than 20,000 persons have been made homeless. The property loss is estimated at ¥50 million, with ¥800,000 to ¥1 million insurance.
As regards the number of destroyed houses, no accurate figure is available as yet. Accounts of the press and even official estimates are varied. The Yokohama city office estimate puts the figure at between 3,500 and 4,000. The Yokohama police headquarters estimate 3,153, this figure covering only the number known up to noon yesterday and also excluding the losses at Minami Naka-dori.
The fire is reported to have started in the house of a rikisha man at No. 12 Chitose-cho, 1-chome, owing to the carelessness of the man’s wife in not attending to a fire she had lit. The woman and her husband disappeared.
75 YEARS AGO
Wednesday, April 12, 1944
Blow to back of head restores veteran’s sight
An almost incredible miracle, resulting from a fall while attempting to board a street car has gradually restored vision to the totally sightless and the only remaining eye of Masayoshi Tabe, a China war veteran, who was wounded in the eyes by a rifle bullet in September, 1937 during the Tsangchow operations, says the Yomiuri-Hochi.
Tabe, who is 32 years old, lives at present in Omori-ku and is a native of Shimane Prefecture. He left for the front as a first-class private. With his left eye gouged out by a rifle shot, and the right eye protruding fearfully out of its socket, Tabe returned home for treatment at the Tokyo First Army Hospital. Medical care succeeded in keeping the shape of at least the right eye, though completely sightless, while a false eye replaced the left.
Back on the home front, Tabe entered the dormitory for blind war veterans at Koishikawa, and there commuted to Hosei University, where he matriculated in the department of the higher teachers’ course. His earnest efforts were rewarded in graduation from the teachers’ course in September 1942.
The event which restored sight to Tabe took place just about six months previous to his graduation. One rainy evening in April of that year, the blind war veteran, homeward bound from a visit to a soldier friend, tried to get on a streetcar at the 3-chome Hongokucho stop.
At that instant, his feet slipped on the wet platform. Tabe fell flat on his back — the back of his head hitting the pavement with a terrific impact. He lay stunned for a few moments, but kind hands helped him to his feet and Tabe managed to get home safely. He did not relate his accident to any of his dormitory comrades.
Next morning while washing his face, Tabe was suddenly conscious of a ray of light penetrating his world of darkness. The morning sun bathed in full light the startled yet radiant face of Tabe as new hope filled his heart. From that time on, sensitivity to light gradually increased.
50 YEARS AGO
Tuesday, April 29, 1969
Train lines halted as student mobs run wild
Passenger train services operated by the Japanese National Railways virtually came to a halt for several hours Monday evening in Tokyo as student mobs stormed key railway stations to mark “Okinawa Day,” the 17th anniversary of the occupation of Okinawa by the U.S. under the San Francisco Peace Treaty.
The police had arrested about 800 students by midnight in various sections of the metropolis. By midnight, 106 persons were injured in the police-demonstrators clashes, according to the Metropolitan Fire Board. Of them, 44 were policemen, 39 students, 22 pedestrians, and three whose identities were not immediately known.
The student mobs, unable to break the tight police cordon around Kasumigaseki, pushed on to Ginza. Mingling with several thousand pedestrians, they staged running battles with the police, keeping the plush shopping center in chaos until midnight.
In Tokyo, the student mobs halted trains by demonstrating on the tracks between Tokyo Station and Shinbashi Station. The students, numbering about 2,000, began to assemble at Tokyo Station around 4 p.m. They occupied a platform and held a rally before jumping onto the tracks to march toward Shinbashi Station at about 5:40 p.m. Most of them wore helmets and carried either steel pipes or wooden staves.
25 YEARS AGO
Wednesday, April 6, 1994
Biologists find coral growing in Tokyo Bay
Biologists have discovered Japan’s northernmost community of coral reefs at the mouth of Tokyo Bay, a study group said Tuesday. The coral, growing in an area stretching over 60 square meters, is 10 meters under the ocean’s surface off the shore of Kyonnan, Chiba Prefecture.
The study group, headed by Takashi Hamada, professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo, discovered the coral reefs in colonies last November and has since observed them from a biological point of view.
The previous northern limit was said to be some 10 kilometers south of the newly discovered coral reefs. The reefs, the largest of one single community ever discovered in Japan, have been in existence for more than 100 years.
The study group attributed the coral growth there to the effect of a warm current flowing into Tokyo Bay from the Pacific. The current is believed to help keep water temperature near the reefs at 14-15 degrees Celsius, even during winter, when the water’s surface temperature usually falls to around 9 degrees Celsius.
In this feature, we delve into The Japan Times’ archive to present a selection of stories from the past. This month’s edition was collated with the assistance of Christopher Kunody. The Japan Times’ entire archive is now available to purchase in digital format. For more details, see jtimes.jp/de.
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5