Diary of Leon Ma. Guerrero

25th January 1945

The army and the navy took their turn in a general meeting of the lower house yesterday. The navy minister regretted that he could give no figures. The war minister unbent enough to say that “so far as the imperial forces are concerned, even if 30 or 40 per cent of the men are lost, it will never mean the collapse of the fighting units. There will be no wavering and no disturbance.” The president of the board of technology also “refrained from making any explanation” and only expressed his “shame” that before Japan’s new “sure-hitting” weapons could be brought into play the war situation had demanded the use of the special attack corps.

x x x

One of the Japanese diplomats I know is a tall thin man who speaks precise English. He dresses carefully and his head of well-brushed white hair gives him a distinguished air. In his office he has the reputation of being morose, irritable, a martinet and a pedant. His subordinates also whisper behind his back that he spends more time on his vegetable patch and his small herd of goats than on official business. His stenographer giggles that he keeps several boiled sweet potatoes in his desk and gobbles them up greedily during office hours.

He is a thoughtful conversationalist but at meals he cannot take his eyes away from the food. He is greedy. He eats rapidly, voraciously, spilling gravy on his shirt front, leaving little crumbs on the fringe of his mouth. He invariably takes a second helping; a third, if it is possible. When the meal is over, he sighs, a sad restless look disturbs his eyes behind their neat professor’s spectacles, but he is ready to talk again, shrewdly, wisely, tolerantly.

Today I heard a medical explanation for this minor phenomenon. This man was a Japanese consular official in one of the countries of southeast Asia when the war broke out. He was interned under extremely cruel conditions. The food was atrocious, what there was of it. Ever since he was exchanged he has been trying to make up for it. Somewhere along the intricate convolutions of his brain, a scar remains encysted. Perhaps he never thought more about food before than any other man. But now he knows that food cannot be taken for granted; suddenly, unaccountably, it is rationed, locked up, denied; what was served obsequiously must now be begged, hoarded, gobbled up, One cannot tell anymore about tomorrow.