100 YEARS AGO
Monday, March 22 1920
Traveler recalls alleged outrage in Tokyo cafe
A tale of poisoning, robbery, and abandonment was the hard luck story that Leonard W. Hartmans told a Kokusai representative yesterday. Since then he has not been heard from and cannot be found. According to his own story, Mr. Hartmans is the general manager of the British Lion Films Ltd. of Elstree, Hertfordshire, England and is on his way to China to investigate trade conditions there. Here is Mr. Hartmans’ story of his experience in Tokyo:
“I arrived in Yokohama on the N.Y.K steamer Katori Maru from America and immediately upon landing took the train for Tokyo. As this is my first visit to Japan, I speak no Japanese, and consequently experienced some trouble in trying to find a hotel, however, I was accosted by a well dressed Japanese speaking excellent English who very politely offered to guide me to a hotel, but suggested that we have a glass of beer before starting. I went with him to a cafe nearby, the location of which, however, as I am a stranger in the city, I cannot remember, aside from the facts that it was not far from Tokyo Station, on one of the main streets having a tramway on it, and that the cafe was furnished in foreign style and had boy waiters.
“After one or two drinks I lost consciousness, due to some drug, and remember nothing more until I woke up the next morning in a suburb of Tokyo several miles from the city. I returned in a motor car and immediately reported my case to the police for while unconscious I had been robbed of some $600 in Canadian currency, a valuable diamond ring and all my papers with the exception of my passport.”
75 YEARS AGO
Saturday, March 17, 1945
Tokyo national schools suspended temporarily
In order to protect school pupils from enemy air raids, which have become more intensified of late, national schools in the districts, which have become targets of enemy aerial attacks, will stop classroom work temporarily, it was announced on Wednesday.
In accordance with a recent Cabinet decision, pupils now enrolled in the first and second grades of national schools, who have been hitherto exempted from collective evacuation, will evacuate from Tokyo to the country, where they are expected to stay with their relatives. Those in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth grades are advised to evacuate from Tokyo as soon as possible either collectively or individually. For those who must remain in Tokyo, some kind of educational measures will be devised so that they will be able to continue their studies.
With the government’s announcement of the suspension of instruction in national schools, voices have been raised in advocacy of a similar move embracing all schools, from the senior course of national schools to universities.
50 YEARS AGO
Sunday, March 15, 1970
Curtain rises on World Expo in Osaka
The emperor opened the Japan World Exposition, 1970, Osaka, on Saturday with words of appreciation for the participation of many countries of the world and an expression of hope for its success.
He read his message toward the end of a 70-minute official inauguration ceremony held at the spacious Festival Plaza, in the center of the sprawling Expo grounds.
The emperor’s brief speech followed a sequence of solemn ceremonial routine, congratulatory speeches, music renditions and a gay parade of colorfully dressed young representatives of close to 100 participating nations and organizations. The proceedings went according to the carefully prepared schedule, but for some unexplained reasons the ceremony took 70 minutes instead of the scheduled 60.
The Festival Plaza, stretching under the world’s largest translucent roof, was chilly but a weak winter sun mercifully shone over the Senri Hills — contrary to widely held fears that the previous night’s snowfall might continue into the morning hours.
Thousands of guests were present to observe the historic event while millions of people across Japan as well as many others in Canada, the Republic of China, the Philippines and Brazil watched it on television.
The guests totaling 7,300 comprised members of the imperial family, political and civic leaders, commissioners general, ambassadors and personal envoys of the heads of participating countries.
The ceremony began with the rendition of an ancient court music piece “Etenraku” performed by the NHK Symphony Orchestra. Soon, the emperor and empress entered the plaza, escorted by Yoshimaru Kanno, vice president of the Expo Association, and took their seats in the royal box.
Two prominent Japanese conductors, Hiroyuki Iwaki and Takashi Asahina, respectively, led the 120-member NHK Symphony Orchestra and the 200-member brass band, which took up positions on two sides of the oblong plaza.
The Japanese national anthem, “Kimigayo,” flowed out while the Japanese national flag was hoisted at the start of the ceremony.
25 YEARS AGO
Tuesday, March 21, 1995
Terror strikes subways during morning rush
The nerve gas sarin, planted on packed commuter subway trains in Tokyo during the morning rush hour Monday, killed six people and injured nearly 3,230 others in what police said was attempted mass murder. There was no immediate claim of responsibility or indication of motive in the attack.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Kozo Igarashi, the top government spokesman, said the poisoning was apparently well organized and that an organized group was responsible. “This crime against innocent people is a hateful act,” Igarashi said. “We will make the utmost effort to thoroughly investigate the case to ensure that it never happens again.”
Special chemical units from the Tokyo Fire Department and the Self-Defense Forces were called in to help deal with the emergency. The Metropolitan Police Department said it found traces of sarin at Tsukiji Station on the Hibiya Line.
Doctors said that people affected by the gas showed symptoms very similar to those suffered last June by residents of Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, who were affected by sarin. Seven people were killed and about 50 were injured in the Matsumoto case, which is still unresolved.
Police suspect a possible link between the two incidents.
Compiled by Elliott Samuels. In this feature, we delve into The Japan Times’ 124-year archive to present a selection of stories from the past. This month’s edition was collated with the assistance of Rena Peterson. The Japan Times’ archive is now available in digital format. For more details, see jtimes.jp/de.