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Sunday, Jan. 16, 2011

JAPAN TIMES GONE BY

New Year song, Japan withdraws from naval talks, ski enthusiasts, Challenger explosion


100 YEARS AGO
Sunday, Jan. 1, 1911

Wishing Emperor a happy New Year!

This is the long expected day

Comrades, greet it merrily In the old time-honored way

Merrily and cheerily. With pines and bamboos by the door

Let us greet the young New Year As the morn greeteth it

And the Sun so bright and clear. Let us bless the Emperor

Whose happiness to all is dear And let us wish him many times

A happy and glad New Year.

[This English translation of the then-popular children's song "Ichigatsu Tsuitachi" ("The First of January"), appeared on page 2 of the Jan. 1, 1911 edition.]

75 YEARS AGO
Saturday, Jan. 18, 1936

Japan exits the London naval talks

Regret at the failure of the five-power conference in London to achieve a practical and acceptable agreement for the reduction of naval armaments is universal. The regret is shared quite as much by Japan, which has felt it necessary to withdraw from the conference because its proposed formula is unacceptable to the other participants — the United States, Great Britain, France and Italy.

Regrettable as is the lack of agreement, satisfaction must be found in the clarification of the atmosphere. The world now knows where each party stands. But the conference's real achievement is the revelation that the will to build navies is in fact lacking from all of the naval Powers: Japan, Great Britain and America.

That statement will be challenged. But those who challenge it are overlooking pertinent factors. The conference has been disrupted not because Japan or any Power sought to build up a stronger navy than was consistent with its own defense needs as those needs were conceived, but because there is no unanimity of agreement on just what those needs are.

Japan is not withdrawing because it opposes naval arms limitation. It is withdrawing because its formula of a common upper limit — of the creation of absolute parity — is unacceptable to the other parties.

The other parties claim naval defense consists not only in the number and strength of naval forces afloat, but also in geographic location, naval land fortification, length of coastlines and more. With this contention Japan disagrees.

50 YEARS AGO
Monday, Jan. 16, 1961

Ski enthusiasts

Go to the sporting goods section of any department store these days and one will find the counters jammed with ski displays and ski enthusiasts. Winter is with us and the ski boom is riding a curve like the Dow-Jones average.

Some of us of the prewar generation can recall when skiing was a sport for the hardy. No frills for us in those days. The best ski districts were long distances away, and after you got to the nearest station by train, you had to slog the rest of the way on skis.

Inns were simple and cheap. There were no ski lifts. Blue serge trousers and a khaki parka were the usual uniform. The usual ski was made of ash.

How times have changed. Ski resorts are springing up in every place, with hotels that are plush compared to those of the prewar days. Few would dream of going where there are no lifts, or being caught without hickory skis — with edges, no less. And the riot of color on both skis and dress is something we would have dreamed of.

It's hard to believe how many skiers there are in Japan now. But it creates problems also. With so many people on the slopes, there are bound to be serious accidents, and they won't all be those of beginners.

Late last year, an avalanche before the season even started killed many on the slopes of Mount Fuji. That was surely a portent of things to come.

We have had Safety First campaigns on the streets. Perhaps it's time for Safety First campaigns on the ski slopes?

25 YEARS AGO
Thursday, Jan. 30, 1986

Our astronauts react to Challenger

Japan's three astronaut candidates Wednesday expressed shock and disbelief at the midair explosion of the U.S. space shuttle Challenger.

The three — Mamoru Mohri, 38, Chiaki Naito, 33, and Takao Doi, 31 — spoke at a news conference in the office of the National Space Development Agency (NASDA). They have all recently won selection as candidates for a future U.S. space shuttle crew. Each of them learned of the Challenger explosion around 2 a.m. Wednesday. Naito got the news from her brother in Florida, who called her immediately by international telephone.

She said, "When I first heard of it, my body trembled. I couldn't believe it for some time."

NASDA plans to send Japan's first astronaut into space in 1988 by putting him or her aboard a U.S. space shuttle.

Doi said at the news conference, "Frankly speaking, I am uneasy. But my desire to travel aboard the space shuttle is stronger than my uneasiness."

Mohri said, "There is nothing perfectly safe in this world. Hopefully the accident will lead to impoved safety."

[In 1992, Mohri became the first Japanese to ride in the space shuttle. He later rode in 2000. Naito (later Chiaki Mukai) rode in '94 and '98, and Doi did so in '97 and 2008.]

In this feature, which appears in Timeout on the third Sunday of each month, we delve into The Japan Times' 115-year-old archive to present a selection of stories from the past. Stories may be edited for brevity.


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