100 YEARS AGO
Wednesday, April 7, 1920
Cherry blossoms attract thousands
After weeks of incessant rain, the sun is again shining upon the cherry blossoms, which are now in full bloom attracting tens of thousands of visitors from many lands.
The famous Night Cherry, which is a century old, standing in the middle of Maruyama Park, is undoubtedly the center of attraction, around which numerous torches are burning all night.
Also, the center of the hillside is studded with countless paper lanterns.
Admiring crowds gather day and night, and the scene at night is particularly beautiful. Among attractions, a “Cherry Dance” is now in full swing.
75 YEARS AGO
Tuesday, April 3, 1945
U.S. forces launch Okinawa invasion
The enemy forces landed in an area extending from the neighborhood of Kitadani to the vicinity of Cape Zampa in the southwestern part of the main island of Okinawa at about 10 a.m. on April 1 and are now continuously reinforcing their troops.
Our forces stationed there are counterattacking the enemy and are now engaged in furious battle.
U.S. forces commenced landing operations on Kamiyamajima and Maejima on the morning of March 31, as well as the southern part of the main Okinawa island on the following morning.
At about 7 a.m. on Sunday, the main body of U.S. forces appeared in the waters west of Kadena and opened up a fierce assault. At 10 a.m., the enemy landed at a point north of Kuwae, about 5 kilometers south of Kadena, under the cover of fleet bombardment and air bombing, while other enemy forces landed on Kamiyamajima and Maejima.
Counterattacking the invaders, the Japanese forces on the spot are now engaged in furious battle.
Meanwhile, Japanese air and sea forces achieved additional war results, namely 15 warcraft sunk or damaged, including one aircraft carrier, two battleships or cruisers, four destroyers, five warships of an unknown category and one transport. Since the enemy commenced its Okinawa operations or, in other words, in a period of less than 10 days, the Japanese have sunk or damaged a total of 105 hostile warcraft.
The 82-day Battle of Okinawa lasted from April 1 until June 22, 1945. It is considered to be one of the bloodiest battles in the Pacific, claiming the lives of more than 200,000 troops and civilians.
50 YEARS AGO
Saturday, April 4, 1970
Hijacked passengers return to Fukuoka
Ninety-eight passengers and four stewardesses returned to Fukuoka Airport aboard a Japan Airlines plane Friday night after being held hostage for 79 hours by Red Army hijackers.
The JAL DCS jetliner Hida carrying the freed passengers and stewardesses landed at Fukuoka Airport from Seoul at 8:26 p.m. Friday, six hours after they walked down the ramp to freedom at Kimpo Airport.
Of the 98 passengers, 45 passengers left the plane in Fukuoka, and the remaining passengers flew to Tokyo aboard the DCS jetliner.
The passengers’ release was won in exchange for Parliamentary Vice Minister Shinjiro Yamamura, who later flew to Pyongyang as hostage aboard the hijacked JAL liner.
The Yodo left Kimpo Airport at 6:06 p.m. piloted by Shinji Ishida and was presumed to have landed at Pyongyang Airport at about 7 p.m. However, no confirmation of its arrival had been made by late Friday.
Radar trackings followed the Boeing 727 airliner on its eastward flight across the Korean Peninsula from Seoul out to sea, then north along the east coast of the peninsula and finally west toward Pyongyang.
The blip disappeared from the radar screen shortly before 7 p.m. when the plane reached the vicinity of Pyongyang. It was interpreted as indicating the plane had landed.
25 YEARS AGO
Monday, April 10, 1995
Upsets in Tokyo, Osaka gubernatorial elections
Independents Yukio Aoshima and “Knock” Yokoyama rode a tidal wave of voter dissent to score upset wins Sunday in the Tokyo and Osaka gubernatorial races, defeating former elite bureaucrats backed by most of the major non-Communist parties.
The surprising results were seen as a victory for the growing number of voters without party affiliation.
The results were also a serious blow to all of the established parties, which were widely accused of collusion in picking joint candidates and ignoring public sentiment.
These parties will no doubt be obliged to review their strategies for upcoming national elections, including the Upper House campaign this summer and the next general election that will be held under a new system.
It is the first time independents without any party support have triumphed in gubernatorial races in either Tokyo or Osaka. Both Aoshima and Yokoyama won by large margins.
At stake Sunday were the governorships in 13 prefectures, seats on 43 of the nation’s 47 prefectural assemblies, 10 of the 12 largest municipal assemblies, and the mayoralty of Sapporo.
Incumbent governors won re-election in Fukui, Tottori, Oita, Shimane, Akita and Saga prefectures.
Voter turnout in the gubernatorial races averaged 55.1 percent, barely above the record low of 54.4 percent in 1991.
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. The Japan Times’ archive is now available in digital format. For more details, see jtimes.jp/de.