100 YEARS AGO
Friday, Jan. 7, 1921
Firemen of Tokyo celebrate time honoured custom of Yedo
Forty-two companies of fire fighters of Tokyo gathered at the Uyeno [an old spelling of Ueno] Park yesterday morning for the New Year review which is one of the customary New Year programme observed all over the country.
Early in the morning over two thousand fire fighters gathered at their respective company quarters and marched to Uyeno Park. At 10 o’clock the formal review was held by Mr. K. Oka, chief of the metropolitan police, and Mr. Ogata, superintendent of Tokyo Fire Companies. Firemen who had shown special ability during the past year were called to receive special prizes and congratulation. Eight received honourary mention for discovering fires and 20 for special service in fighting fires. Old timers were also fittingly honoured, among them being one who served in the department more than 50 years, two more than 45 years and two over 40 years.
After the formal review, the fire-fighters exhibited their acrobatic performances on ladders, one of the most popular features of the review. Twelve ladders were held erect with picks by firemen and champions from various companies exhibited their special stunts upon the ladder.
Then 50 motor fire engines were drawn up in line and the contest for sending up the highest stream started. The engine of Company 4 won the prize by throwing a stream 162 feet into the air.
As the closing feature, a 20-feet tower was set on fire, and two motor engines directed their streams to the top of the tower, which was on fire. They extinguished the blaze in 10 minutes.
The formal review was then ended and each company marched again to its respective station in the city, the firemen singing as they went the “Kiyari,” an old song of Yedo [an old spelling of Edo]. At their company station, each went through another exhibition for the people of the locality who all participated in the celebration. Firemen also went around their district with their ladder and held their “Hashigo-nori” exhibition to the gatherings of children and friends.
75 YEARS AGO
Tuesday, Jan. 22, 1946
Sensational claim to Imperial Throne by pretender is called ‘sheer nonsense’
Describing the sensational pretension to the unbroken lineage of Japan’s Imperial Throne made by a reportedly Imperial descendent living in obscurity as appearing in the Friday issue of Stars and Stripes, the American Army organ in Tokyo, as sheer “nonsense,” Dr. Takeo Aizawa, Professor of Tokyo Imperial University, definitely denied the pretender’s right of succession to the Imperial Throne.
The pretender to the Throne is Hiromichi Kumazawa, 56-year-old humble storekeeper, living in the outskirts of a burned out area, with his wife and four children.
In an exclusive interview with Kyodo, the famed authority on Japanese history pointed out that Emperor Gokomatsu of the Northern Dynasty which was set up by Takauji Ashikaga, succeeded to the Throne legitimately following the amalgamation of the Southern and Northern Dynasties, with due qualifications for accession to the Throne.
Since that time, the professor asserted the succession to the Imperial Throne has been conducted legitimately and in an unbroken line up to the present. Dr. Aizawa added that such being the case, even the descendant of the Southern Dynasty is not in a position to claim the right of accession to the Imperial Throne.
Even if such a “small potato” suddenly turned up, Dr. Aizawa went on to say, the Japanese people would prefer to ignore him.
50 YEARS AGO
Wednesday, Jan. 13, 1971
Frenchman stays poker-faced as 50 try to make him laugh
Fifty people Tuesday morning crowded round a window of Seibu Department Store in Shibuya, Tokyo, in a vain attempt to win ¥100,000 by making a French mime master laugh.
Earlier, Jean Goury, 28, known as “the human robot” in his country, had announced that he would offer the sum to anyone who caused him to laugh during his performance.
At the invitation of La Jeunesse, a Tokyo trade consulting company, the “artiste automate” has recently been in Japan for his unique demonstrations.
During his 20-minute-long act inside the store window Tuesday, onlookers wondered if he was really human or just a dummy.
As one of the few mimes able to perform this kind of act in Europe, Goury is now sought after by cosmetic and fashion companies throughout the world to advertise their product with his rare skill.
Goury, who was originally a French comedian, is anxious to develop a new genre of “artiste automates” for the portrayal of sketches on stages.
25 YEARS AGO
Friday, Jan. 5, 1996
Murayama to step down
Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama on Friday abruptly expressed his intention to step down and pass the reins of government on to Ryutaro Hashimoto, president of the Liberal Democratic Party.
Hashimoto, 58, who is both international trade and industry minister and deputy prime minister is expected to be elected prime minister by a coalition majority vote in an extraordinary Diet session to be convened on Thursday, according to coalition sources.
Murayama’s resignation was approved by Hashimoto, Masayoshi Takemura, head of New Party Sakigake, and their deputies as the leaders of the three coalition parties huddled Friday afternoon after Murayama phoned Hashimoto earlier in the day to convey his resignation.
The coalition leaders confirmed that the three parties will maintain their unity and coalition framework after Murayama’s resignation “regardless of what situation may emerge,” according to the sources.
The three coalition leaders agreed that Hashimoto should succeed Murayama as the next prime minister.
Murayama, 71, head of the Social Democratic Party of Japan, is stepping down from the post he had held since June 1994 amid a mountain of problems plaguing the nation, including troubled relations with the United States, a retracted business recession and a wide-spread financial crisis.
Murayama had been under pressure to resign over a series of blunders in handling those issues and others, including the Kobe earthquake and the Aum Shinrikyo case.
Compiled by Leo Howard. In this feature, we delve into The Japan Times’ 125-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.
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