100 YEARS AGO
Monday, Dec. 29 1919
Imperial Hotel annex destroyed by fire
The annex of the Imperial Hotel was burned to the ground on Saturday night at a loss to the hotel of ¥150,000 and to the guests in that section of the hotel of possibly half that amount.
No lives were lost but many of the occupants of rooms had narrow escapes owing to the rapidity with which the fire spread.
It was shortly after 9 p.m. when fire was discovered in room 11 due, it is believed, to the contact of electric wires.
About 40 people occupied rooms on the two floors. Within a few minutes after the fire was discovered, smoke was pouring through the corridors.
Many of the guests who had been in the main building after dinner rushed for their rooms in the hope of saving their belongings but the time was too short for any except those who were on the lower floor and furtherest removed from the first outbreak.
The fire broke out in the room occupied by Mr. P.F. Mueller in the western corner of the building, two doors from the suite occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Moss. Mr and Mrs Moss recently gave up their house in Tokyo, intending to return to Europe for a vacation. All of their personal belongings , including all the valuable furs and jewelry and clothing belonging to Mrs. Moss, are a complete loss uncovered by insurance.
Most of the other guests in that part of the hotel lost everything.
Mrs. Moss by personal bravery saved two small dogs and other guests saved dogs or birds from their rooms, many of them at great personal risk.
75 YEARS AGO
Sunday, Dec. 10, 1944
Pilot rides piggy-back on B-29 during duel
After having rammed and downed one B-29 of the enemy air force that raided Tokyo on Dec. 3, Corp. Matsumi Nakano, a member of the Shinten Anti-Air Raid Unit of the Japanese Army Special Attack Corps, miraculously returned alive to the base to the great joy of his comrades.
With his head and left wrist bandaged, Corp. Nakano gave details of the aerial duels with enemy attackers.
“On that day, I encountered a formation of six aircraft sometime around 2:30 p.m. in the air over Itabashi Ward,” he said. “Flying 500 meters higher than the enemy attackers, which maintained a 9,000-meter altitude, I made a frontal attack against the enemy commander plane but unfortunately my plane skimmed past the enemy craft. I again encountered a formation of 12 enemy planes sometime around 3:30 p.m. but again I failed to attack any of them.
“However, just then, I saw one enemy plane trailing the others. Resorting to a ramming action, I pounced on the enemy, when I found my plane right below the enemy craft. While maneuvering to smash the fuselage of the enemy plane with the propeller of my machine, I found it was astride the enemy. In that way I continued to cruise for some 15 or 16 seconds. Unfortunately, the engine of my plane was hit by enemy fire disharged by others of the same formation.
“My plane fell diagonally and made a forced landing in a swamp at Otamura, Ibaraki Prefecture.”
Thus saying, Corp. Nakano looked shy and refrained from saying very much more.
50 YEARS AGO
Thursday, Dec. 25, 1969
Persons ‘can refuse to be photographed’
The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that all individuals have the freedom under the Constitution to refuse being photographed. The ruling came in a case involving a student who injured a policeman who photographed him without his consent.
The court found the student guilty, however, of obstruction of execution of official police duties and assault and battery, saying that this freedom was subject to restrictions when the public welfare is involved.
Found guilty was Toshihide Hasegawa, 28, then a student of Ritsumeikan University, who led a demonstration march against the planned revision of the university administration on June 21, 1962, on a street in Kyoto. When the demonstrators increased their marching columns from four to eight against a condition of demonstration permission granted by the Kyoto Prefectural Public Safety Commission during the march, a plainclothesman photograped the demonstrators.
Hasegawa demanded the plainclothesman identify himself and, upon meeting his refusal, the student leader struck the policeman with a flag pole, slightly injuring him.
25 YEARS AGO
Saturday, Dec. 31, 1994
Children swallow foreign objects easily
Cigarettes are the object most frequently swallowed accidentally by babies and children, the Health and Welfare Ministry said in a report released Friday.
The report, based on a survey of six hospitals with pediatric wards, found 452 cases in which kids put things in their mouths that did not belong there, an increase of 41 over the previous year.
Cigarettes and cigarette-related objects topped the list of items swallowed at 225 cases.
One 6-year-old child swallowed cigarette butts dumped into a trash can, while another drank the contents of a beverage can that was used as a makeshift ashtray, according to the report.
Medical supplies and goods followed cigarettes with 77 cases, including one in which a child swallowed a round chemical device used to ward off cockroaches.
The report also found 14 cases in which thermometers were swallowed, 13 cases of choking on food, 11 cases involving toys and metal screws or bolts, and nine cases of swallowed coins.
At least 70 percent of the cases involved babies between 6 and 11 months old, the time when they start crawling and walking while holding onto something for support.
Compiled by Elliott Samuels. In this feature, we delve into The Japan Times’ 123-year archive to present a selection of stories from the past. The Japan Times’ archive is now available in digital format. For more details, see jtimes.jp/de.