Diary of Leon Ma. Guerrero

10th February 1945

The Japanese were buoyant this morning. All the vernaculars have headlined a delphic boast from Yamashita: “The enemy is in my stomach.” It is, I suppose, the equivalent of the American “It’s in the bag”. The immediate unanimous but private reaction of the Filipinos here was: “He’ll have indigestion.”

The cold wave of the past three days has meant more than a pretty snowfall for the average Japanese. The water is freezing in the faucets and they have no fuel to thaw it out. The distribution of rations has been delayed; possibly the roads are blocked. Yvonne, weeping and wailing, came knocking at the door of our neighbor, asking for his help. Now they had turned off the electric current in her room. She was half-hysterical, the poor woman, but again it is largely her own fault. She just can’t control either her consumption of gas and electricity or her feelings. She only keeps wailing that the little singing-bird she keeps in her lonely room for company will freeze to death.

Yesterday a barter day, the first of a series, was held at the Matsusakaya department store in Ueno. Applicants had registered their names and their goods previously, receiving in exchange tickets to be traded in for the goods of other applicants. Today all the vernaculars had an extensive coverage of this primitive solution for Tokyofs broken-down distribution system. It seems that all goods were disposed of one and a half hours after the doors of the store were thrown open. The most popular items were shoes and clothing. Only some flower-vases and pictures remained unbartered. Bare need has shoved aside the famous Japanese cult of the aesthetic. One of those who showed up was a fat old woman lugging an iron stove. The store officials reminded her that all iron articles were supposed to be given to the government and, after refusing to list the stove for barter, asked her pointedly to donate it to the government for war purposes. The vernaculars say she refused and ran out weeping.