Diary of Leon Ma. Guerrero

6th January 1945

Overcome Mounting Taxation Increase Through Temperance;

Let’s Refrain from Drinking and Making Unnecessary Trips

Thus the Asahi headlines a new increase in taxes, the ninth since the start of the China Affair. The increase has been made in the classified income tax and the luxury taxes on alcoholic drinks, theater entertainment and travel.

An eyewitness story of life in Germany today, published by the Yomiuri, is a muffled protest against this pious preaching of “temperance” in starvation. It gives us one of three reasons why the Germans are holding out the claim that “the Germans have the best music in the world.” The Germans, says the account, don’t have to listen to “sermons” every time they turn on the radio; instead, they get music, good music, and in the same way the Nazis give the Germans circuses as well as bread to make them forget their troubles.

I asked a Japanese once why the Japanese government had forbidden fun; why it had locked up the bars, conscripted the geisha, starved the theaters, rationed the films, arrested anyone who dared to dance; why it had allowed, nay pushed, scolded, and driven the people into a joyless squalor unimaginable in the past. Would it not have been wiser to make it possible for them to forget their troubles once in a while?

No, he answered me, Japanese psychology was different. The Japanese did not want to drown their sorrows; they liked to pick at their wounds and scars. If they were at war, they were at war all the time. They took war seriously; “that is why we win”. Besides how could any true Japanese have fun when the man of the tokotai were riding on bombs and hurling themselves into annihilation?

But the Japanese mentality is not so “different”. Men line up for blocks in this searing cold to get a glass of beer; they will trade their food for rice wine and get drunk on one unaccustomed swallow, to lurch and stumble, shout and bluster, gambol and weep, home to their lousy hovels. The women stuff every train carriage put to the country with their babies and their bundles, they spend stifling hours in the coarse intimacies of packed suffocating subways and streetcars, to visit and gossip with relatives and friends, trying desperately to find one unrationed scrap of happiness to share with one another.

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