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Sunday, Nov. 16, 2008

JAPAN TIMES GONE BY

The passing of Chinese royalty, the arrival of a commoner consort and Reagan's 'peace through strength'


100 YEARS AGO

Tuesday, Nov. 17, 1908

Their Late Chinese Majesties

Not only one of two events most sorrowful to the Chinese Court and nation, which formed the theme of our comment in our last issue, but both have turned out to be facts. In the demise of His late Majesty the Emperor Kwan Su, the world sees the end of a wearer of the crown whose lot for thirty odd years has been the object of deepest sympathy among all right thinking people. In that of the Empress Dowager, China loses one of the most remarkable women the world has ever produced, who has stood out most prominent among her sex during the last quarter of a century and more. If the late Emperor's was a life of constant struggle against enfeebled health and extra-sensitiveness, indeed against fate itself, that of the Dowager Empress was a living example of the old, old proverb that, however low in birth a woman can rise to ride in a chariot of gems. In thinking of the one, none can help thinking of the other, as lives intertwined like cause and effect, and it is a strange irony of fate that these two Imperial personages should pass away to the grave in quick succession. If the demise of the Emperor and Empress Dowager has any message, we believe it is that their nation before the awfulness of death should forget the past and unite for the future. We at any rate would persuade ourselves that such is the thought which is now filling the Chinese heart, and the world will agree that they deserve the deepest respect at this moment.

50 YEARS AGO

Friday, Nov. 28, 1958

Commoner to be Akihito's Bride

Miss Michiko Shoda, 24-year-old daughter of a businessman, was chosen yesterday to be the bride of Crown Prince Akihito and Empress-to-be of Japan.

It was a precedent-shattering choice. It was the first time in the 2,618-year annals of the Imperial Family that a consort for the heir to the throne was selected from the ranks of commoners.

The Imperial Household Agency made the dramatic announcement at 11:30 a.m. Takeshi Usami, director general for the agency, issued this statement:

"Decision has been made at a meeting of the Imperial Household Council, held from 10 a.m. today, on the engagement of Crown Prince Akihito to Michiko, eldest daughter of Mr. Hidesaburo Shoda."

The choice, besides its break with centuries old Imperial tradition, eminently followed the ideals and spirit of Japan's postwar democratic Constitution, which stipulates that Imperial marriages be based on the mutual consent of the two parties.

Miss Shoda, who is 10 months younger than the Crown Prince, also 24, was unanimously approved as the future bride of the Emperor's eldest son at an Imperial Household Council meeting held within the Imperial Palace under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi.

The marriage between the crown Prince and Miss Shoda is expected to take place some time next May at the earliest or, more likely, in the autumn of next year after a formal betrothal probably in May.

The future Crown Princess is the eldest daughter of Hidesaburo Shoda, president of the Nisshin Flour Milling Co. She graduated from Tokyo Sacred Heart University in March, last year, with top grades in English literature.

Tennis is her favorite sport, and it was through this sport that she first came to the attention of the Crown Prince.

The approval of Miss Shoda as the Crown Prince's future bride came after authorities of the Imperial Household Agency explained the qualifications required of an Imperial consort and submitted detailed data relating to Miss Shoda's schooling, family and health.

The Imperial Household conference ended at 10:42 a.m. after those attending signed a document on their decision.

The marriage arrangements are estimated to require a budget of approximately ¥12 million. The Imperial Household Agency is expected to undertake negotiations with the Finance Ministry shortly to have this sum earmarked in the new 1959 fiscal budget.

25 YEARS AGO

Saturday, Nov. 12, 1983

Reagan sees Japan, U.S. in "powerful partnership"

U.S. President Ronald Reagan, in his speech to a joint session of the Diet Friday, expressed his strong determination to seek nuclear arms reduction with the Soviet Union, declaring that "a nuclear war can never be won and must never be fought."

While assuring the Japanese and world audience that "we are people of peace," Reagan said the U.S. would continue talks with the Soviets even after the deadline of Nov. 15 for the current intermediate- range nuclear force talks in Geneva.

Reagan, speaking for about 30 minutes as the first American president to address the Japanese parliament, however, also stressed the need for the U.S. and Japan, and their allies to dedicate themselves to "peace through strength." a major theme of Reagan philosophy.

He said Japan and the U.S. "can become a powerful partnership for good" not just in their own countries or in the Pacific region but throughout the world, thus urging Japan to take a "global role" not only in economics but also politically.

Although his speech tried to assure the audience he is not a shoot-from-the- hip president and did not call the Soviet Union the root of all evils as he has done before, Reagan did say that "there are trials for freedom" as evidenced in the Soviet shootdown of a Korean airliner, the terrorist bombing in Rangoon, and the terrorist attacks in Lebanon.

In this feature, which appears in TimeOut on the third Sunday of each month along with our regular Week 3 stories, we delve into The Japan Times' 112-year-old archive to present a selection of stories from the past. Stories may be edited for brevity.


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