Diary of Leon Ma. Guerrero

16th March 1945

The roads out of Tokyo are crowded with refugees, each with his bundle strapped to his back. The last raid has done more to push the dispersion program than all the “powerful politics” of the past year. This morning a man with an ugly purple blister across half his face asked me shyly if I knew what time the next train was leaving for the north. He seemed self-conscious about his disfigured face, as if he had not had much time as yet to get used to the stares, half of horror, half of pity, that it automatically provoked.

An over-all picture of the present state of dispersion was given today by the Mainichi in an interview with the vice-president of the general headquarters for air defense. Foreseeing that “the enemy will surely come seeking to destroy what still remains,” the spokesman outlined measures for the calling for the distribution of non-essential personnel among the previous prefectures and the, if necessary, forcible detention of essential personnel in the capital. “Evacuees are being encouraged to take as little with them as possible. This emergency measure may appear excessive but the authorities ask the evacuees to put themselves in the same position as air-raid victims.” Excess household articles will be bought by the government or held in official custody.

The Tokyo Shimbun in turn complained that minor officials were holding up relief measures “by sticking to peace-time formalism” and called for emphasis on the protection of life rather than the extinction of fires.