Diary of Leon Ma. Guerrero

22nd of February 1945

After all the build-up of Hirose as chief secretary of the Koiso cabinet, he has now been shuffled out. Yesterday the government underwent another reorganization with the finance minister Ishiwata taking Hirose’s place, and a new finance minister appointed, Juichi Tsushima, president of the North China Development Company. This time press comments have been neither more cautious. Tsushima, says the Asahi, “is a man of versatile disposition and he has the tact and ability to get on well with anyone. On the other hand he is too absorbed in routine and has the defect of being lacking in power. “Several times, “recounts the Asahi, “he has been mentioned as a candidate for the portfolio of finance but each time the honor passed to his juniors, such as Kaya, Aoki, and Ishiwata.” His first job, the paper concludes, will be to get rid of his “Tsushima complex”.

There was an unusually heavy snowfall today, lasting throughout the day. Our dinner guest, a Finnish diplomat, arrived late, explaining that an automobile from the provinces had fallen into a repair ditch at a streetcar crossing, blocking the rails for an hour. Characteristically the Japanese stared at the obstruction and exchanged exclamations of dismay for 30 minutes before a streetcar was finally hitched to the automobile to pull it off the tracks, incidentally wrenching it out of shape.

Now that Finland had made peace, he was going home soon, within two weeks, our guest told us. But what was there to go home to? One and a half years ago his girl had wired saying she had grown tired of waiting and breaking off their engagement. His ancestral home had been burnt down, rebuilt, burnt down once again in the course of the two Russian wars and now he could not rebuild it a second time because Viborg, his native city, was now Soviet territory. He would never go back there now; of the half million Finns who had lived in the territories ceded to the Soviets, only three had elected to remain under the rule of Finnland’s ancient enemy. At least, so he said. Finland had reason to be familiar with total war. Every man, woman, and child had been mobilized; the streets were silent and deserted throughout the Finnish land.

But here in Tokyo, he had often told his Japanese friends, there were still thousands upon thousands of able-bodied men jostling one another in the streets. “You could get together one division on any streetcorner of the Ginza,” he exclaimed. But he was bitter only about the Axis which had ruined Finland. All the cooperation between Germany and Japan, he said, “you could put in a small handbag.” “So now we have lost everything,” he mumbled half to himself. He had been in Japan four years. He learned his English, which is surprisingly fluent, in Tokyo — in order to learn Japanese. Now he knew more English than Japanese. I shall remember him as a charming bibulous vigorous man with outbursts of fantastic nonsense. He it was who said that the Russians were “bluffing” in their summer offensive that took them to the shores of the Baltic and just before leaving he said quite seriously that the English had thught the Japanese that Pearl Harbor trick for the war with Russia.