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Sunday, Feb. 21, 2010

JAPAN TIMES GONE BY

Gambler fraternity bust, banana-only diet, 3-S formula tabloids, service industry growth


100 YEARS AGO

Wednesday, Feb. 3, 1910

Time to suppress the professional gambler fraternity

We are watching with very great interest what follows the recent arrest of 60-odd gamblers, including the notorious Masa Tsukuda.

It is from the gambling fraternity that the army of professional loafers, which exists in Tokyo and elsewhere, is recruited. These loafers are more than mere parasites. They are pugnacious and often given to intimidating honest people.

In some places, when a good-natured family moves into a house, there comes a seedy fellow who introduces himself as "an asobinin of the neighborhood" ("a doing-nothing man," that is, a professional gambler), who has called to make their acquaintance. The presence of the man spreads consternation among the family and he is sent away with some money.

It is deplorable that these men are allowed to go about with impunity.

These loafers have their leaders and chieftains, who are the owners of gambling dens, and who have divided the country into their "spheres of influence." One of the most powerful of these is the aforementioned Masa Tsukuda. It is said that he receives ¥180,000 a year in "tribute money" and that he keeps in his pay a number of policemen. It is rumored that he has been the fountainhead in cases of corruption in civic and national politics.

It is this arch-gambler and his followers who are now under arrest, and how the police and government deal with them is a very grave question.

Nearly 10 years ago, we discussed the desirability of suppressing the gambling fraternity. To our regret, our words fell on deaf ears. At last, however, we have now in Mr. Kamei, the present Chief of the Metropolitan Police, an official who sees the evil in its full magnitude. He has been successful in grappling with pickpockets, and we hope he will prove successful with gamblers.

A report goes that pressure is being brought to bear on him to release Masa Tsukuda. That he must not succumb is the demand of the public. The present chance lost, it would be difficult to find another to strike a telling blow to this evil fraternity.

75 YEARS AGO

Thursday, Feb. 7, 1935

Man lives 27 years on only bananas

Believe it or not, there is a man who has eaten nothing but bananas for the past 27 years. This person is Fukuzo Onishi, 64, of Togoshi, Ebara-ku, Tokyo. In spite of eating only two bananas each meal since 1907, he enjoys perfect health, his only discomfort being that he feels cold during the winter months.

In 1903, Onishi was sent to the tropics by Osaka Shosen Kaisha and suffered acute intenstinal trouble. Rice and other foods made him sick and he found that bananas were the perfect food for his system.

50 YEARS AGO

Saturday, Feb. 13, 1960

Three-S formula of weekly magazines

In trains and subways, commuters poring over weekly magazines are a common scene nowadays. Those cheap magazines, mostly featuring a belle on the cover, started to multiply 10 years ago, but this "cultural" phenomenon is so much taken for granted that few people noticed the passing of a decade since its inception.

Throughout the 1950s, the number and circulation of these magazines — the first of which were published by the Asahi and the Mainichi newspaper companies — has continued to rise. Some 20 are being sold at newsstands. At present there is no audit bureau of circulation, but the largest ones sell more than a million copies a week.

And what are the secrets of their success? The answer may be summarized in a three-S formula: sex, scandal and swordsmanship.

Most weeklies feature "news" stories and novels with inclinations toward sex and scandal. Week after week, such stories are turned out, but the portion "that's fit to print" may be found to be small.

Fiction is produced mostly by popular writers. The hero approaches a woman, and when he is not seeking sexual pleasure, his aim is to set upon her money. Another type of hero is the swordsman who kills his enemies like flies.

Immediately after World War II, there appeared some lewd magazines, but they became monotonous and soon disappeared. In comparison, the weekly magazines offer a more effective form of diversion because of their news element and skillful writing.

Innocence and ignorance, whether due to youth or seclusion owing to social status, diminishes under the influence of these magazines. To compete, the newspapers and radio tend to become more sensual.

When one gets inured to diversion, one becomes unable to do away with it. Hence the weekly magazines are likely to grow stronger in the future.

25 YEARS AGO

Monday, Feb. 18, 1985

Half of workers now in 'service'

More than half of Japanese workers will be employed in the service industry by 1990, a Labor Ministry survey released Sunday predicted.

The survey, based on local-government employment plans, also found that workers 55 years and older will account for more than 20 percent of the working population in 35 prefectures.

To cope with the growing number of the tertiary (service) industry workers and a rapidly aging society, the ministry will step up efforts to adjust labor supply and demand and to expand employment opportunities for older workers.

In this feature, which appears in Timeout on the third Sunday of each month, we delve into The Japan Times' 114-year-old archive to present a selection of stories from the past. Stories may be edited for brevity.


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