16th May 1945

In a formal decision of the cabinet Japan recognized yesterday that the tri-partite treaty, the subsequent Axis military alliance, the anti-Comintern pact, and other related treaties have been “rendered null and void”. As if by pre-arrangement the vernacular are full of portents and warnings.

“The ground fighting on the main Okinawa island has become more difficult and has come to assume aspects admitting of no optimism for the future,” broods the Mainichi in a lengthy summary of the battle there. “It is considered inevitable,” adds the Tokyo Shimbun, “that the number of enemy planes raiding the mainland shall rapidly increase in number.” Both articles are tomely and typical of Japanese expectations. They may be worth reproduction for future comparison with the facts and with the corresponding American versions.

The Mainichi on Okinawa: At first the Japanese forces resorted to the tactics of enticing the enemy forces to complete their landing instead of attacking them on the beach, because the latter method would have entailed serious sacrifices on our part as was the case in the Peleliu campaign. Afterward it was planned to subject the enemy forces  to serious losses by taking advantage of the well-constructed positions in the interior of the island.

“Thus our forces aimed to smash the enemy warships and other vessels on the sea, cutting off the supply-line, while on land they aimed to inflict losses on the enemy and shatter his fighting-power and fighting-will. Accordingly the enemy landed on the main Okinawa island on the 1st April without meeting the customary resistance and easily occupied the north and central airfields. But when the enemy advanced to the line connecting Oyama and Tsuha via Shinoushi bay, he met our full-fledged counter-attack. Since then a sanguinary battle has raged between the two opposing forces….

“Our counter-attack which started in the evening of the 12th April broke the first deadlock. This counter-attack, short in time and limited in area, caused the enemy serious losses and delayed his second offensive one week. Our side however suffered considerable exhaustion in its fighting power.

“Thereafter the enemy reorganized his positions and resorted to another offensive, mobilizing four full divisions in the southern section of the island alone. The enemy however met strong resistance and on the 23rd April or thereabouts he was compelled to withdraw the 96th and 27th divisions to the rear.

“The enemy advance, notwithstanding, continued steadily though slowly. On the 12th May the enemy reached high ground menacing the line connecting [illegible] and Shuri. Of course the fate of the Okinawa battle does not depend on this line alone and we have still bases back of it but so long as the enemy finds it possible to obtain reinforcements and so long as the enemy can use tanks and other fire-power arms effectively against us, future ground fighting is expected to become more intensified.

“Our air units, including the special attack corps, have been causing the enemy sea forces serious losses to such an extent that already more than 500 enemy vessels, large and small, have been sunk or damaged. This has had the effect of paralyzing the enemy’s Pacific fleet….

“(But) whatever losses the Japanese may force or the enemy in his sea strength, if they allow the enemy to advance on important lines on land, the war situation will have to be declared disadvantageous to our side…. Due to our valiant fighting on land one-third of the enemy ground force has been disabled but our losses have not been small. The resent margin of strength between the two opposing forces is so large that if the present state of affairs is allowed to continue, it is calculated that the enemy will outlast our forces on the island. No further delay is therefore permissible. At this moment we can only attack and do nothing but attack.”

The Tokyo Shimbun on the air blitz: “The number of enemy planes that came over on the 13th and 14th May totalled some 630 b-25’s and over 2000 carrier-borne planes and seaplanes of varying size. Their aerial invasion covered almost the entire area of the mainland.

“Since the construction of the air base in the Marianas has evidently been completed, it is but natural that the enemy air-raids should increase in number…. Accordingly we are not taken aback by the frequency of the latest air-raids. We have also fully anticipated correspondingly heavier losses.

“The question facing us now is how the losses can be minimized. Frankly speaking the work of air defense in the large cities has not been successfully conducted and is still far from complete…. In some localities indications are seen that the authorities, in giving advice to the farmers, only succeed in frightening them. It is to be hoped that the government and local authorities, both military and civilian, will make further efforts in this direction.”


15th May 1945

About 400 B-29’s raided Nagoya yesterday, “for the first time dropping incendiaries on a large scale in the daytime”, while 300 carrier-borne planes were raking Kyushu, following up a larger raid the day before by 900 planes. In Okinawa, reports the Asahi, “a confused battle is raging, with indications that the fighting line has been shifted nearer to Shuri and Naha. Evidently the enemy has come out to launch a general offensive both on land and sea.” In view of this, orders the Asahi, “is the enemy inordinately intending to win the war at one stroke?”

And the paper complains: “We have the favor of heaven, the harmony of men, and the advantage of locale. What we lack, it is regrettable to say, is materials.” Heaven favors the longest assembly-line.

Premier Suzuki knows it. At a conference of prefectural governors yesterday he reminded his hearers that the empire was now fighting along, “that it could not fight without an increase in production, and that there could be no increase “without the people’s trust”.

It is probably the chief disadvantage of a bureaucratic government that it must be taught this basic technique of the politician. Certainly it is startling for one who has lived under other forms of government to hear such elementary instructions as the premier felt compelled to give the governors:

“It is necessary that you should live and work in concert with the people…. With modesty and with the attitude of reflecting on your conduct daily, you are called to recognize straightforwardly the prevailing situation, give consideration to the spirit of the people at work, listen to their enthusiastic will, and respond thereto. The result will be that you will be kinder in your leadership….

“Show a good example to the people and take proper and timely measures as necessity arises, without being influenced by the ups and downs of the war situation. In the course of the performance of your duties you will find obstacles in time-honored customs and complicated regulations, but it is hoped that you will judge the situation on the basis of your responsibility…. and act with dispatch and courage.”

The Premier did not forget to give the governors a certain reassurance. As I often say,” he reminded them, “world war history shows that it is not always the big country that wins and the small country that is defeated. The country that fight it out under a moral order gets the ultimate victory.”

Which is no truer than it is to say that right makes might.


14th May 1945

The Japanese mother-in-law of a Filipino in Tokyo is trying to let her house and sell her furniture — too late. The peak of the prices has passed; everyone is trying to get out of Tokyo now and to get rid of household possessions. Only kitchen utensils and bedclothes continue to rise in value, when they can be found at all. But she keeps waiting, delaying, postponing the date of her family’s evacuation from the capital. She believes firmly that if only she waits, delays, and postpones long enough someone will pay her a fabulous price for her old piano.

She should be told that food, particularly sugar, is the only commodity that bring fortunes in the black market these days. Vargas told me today that he had been approached recently by one of our interpreters with a strange proposition. There were some 100 sacks of black-market sugar to be had somewhere and a group of rich Japanese were eager to buy the lot. But due to government restrictions they could not withdraw the required amount from their banks. The proposition was that Vargas should advance the sum (more than half a million) to be repaid within a few days, presumably after sugar had been disposed of in small lots. What he was supposed to get out of it, Vargas did not bother to find out.

At any rate, he remarked, the Japanese tycoons were going to almost any lengths to get their frozen assets out of the banks. Some, he had heard, applied for permission to withdraw heavy sums on the excuse that the money would be spent on constructing or expanding plants needed for the war effort. Once permission was granted however, the money was hoarded. “There’s a lot of fooling around,” Vargas concluded. “But they are only fooling themselves.”


14th May 1945

The Japanese mother-in-law of a Filipino in Tokyo is trying to let her house and sell her furniture — too late. The peak of the prices has passed; everyone is trying to get out of Tokyo now and to get rid of household possessions. Only kitchen utensils and bedclothes continue to rise in value, when they can be found at all. But she keeps waiting, delaying, postponing the date of her family’s evacuation from the capital. She believes firmly that if only she waits, delays, and postpones long enough someone will pay her a fabulous price for her old piano.

She should be told that food, particularly sugar, is the only commodity that bring fortunes in the black market these days. Vargas told me today that he had been approached recently by one of our interpreters with a strange proposition. There were some 100 sacks of black-market sugar to be had somewhere and a group of rich Japanese were eager to buy the lot. But due to government restrictions they could not withdraw the required amount from their banks. The proposition was that Vargas should advance the sum (more than half a million) to be repaid within a few days, presumably after sugar had been disposed of in small lots. What he was supposed to get out of it, Vargas did not bother to find out.

At any rate, he remarked, the Japanese tycoons were going to almost any lengths to get their frozen assets out of the banks. Some, he had heard, applied for permission to withdraw heavy sums on the excuse that the money would be spent on constructing or expanding plants needed for the war effort. Once permission was granted however, the money was hoarded. “There’s a lot of fooling around,” Vargas concluded. “But they are only fooling themselves.”


13th May 1945

Signs of the times: the fourth and fifth sections of the bureau of political affairs of the foreign office are moving out of Tokyo to the provinces. They deal with European and American affairs.

My informant, a Japanese diplomat, said also there was no question of surrender for Japan. “It would be foolish to give up now,” he said. “We have little left to bargain with.” Was he hoping for a clash between the Anglo-Americans and the Soviets? No, he was not so stupid as that. What was the way out then? He shrugged his shoulders. His face was haggard. They would just have to keep on fighting till there was nothing left in Japan. He was too honest to speak about Japan’s allies in Asia; Japan, he knew, was not fighting at the head of Asia; she was facing Asia, as well as the rest of the world.

Listening to him I remembered the cadets at the Japanese military academy from various countries in Greater East Asia. These boys might be taken for Japanese; they were popular Japanese uniforms and receive the salutes of all Japanese soldiers lower in rank. They get the same rations; lodging; supplies, and equipment as Japanese cadets. As a matter of fact the academy authorities have bent over backwards in some cases to keep them happy. In response to a half-joking complaint of the Indian cadets, who asked that everyone stand at attention when the name of Subhas Chandra Bose was mentioned just as they were required to do when the emperor was named, instructors and students now stiffened up at the names of all the Daitoa heads of state. For the rest of it, they were not too unhappy; they were young enough to like the discipline and special privileges of the army. They were being rushed through military training; they had run through a year’s course in a few months; the academy, they had been told, was above all “the school where men where taught how to die.” Thus tank-busting reduced itself, they were taught, to hurling one’s self upon the armored vehicle, explosive in hand. It was surer that way, and cheaper.

But already they were too old to believe in Japan and Daitoa. They had seen to many things in their native countries. They exhibited the curious recurrent phenomenon of all Japanese attempts at indoctrinating the youth of Asia: at the academy all the other Asians would gang up against the Japanese. This, I thought, was all that remained of Japan’s intoxicating dream of leading the “one billion Asian” to the conquest of the world. How many were they in all? Not more than a hundred boys, running irreverently on the edge of contempt, suspicion, and insubordination, while he who would have been master bowed ingratiatingly at the names of his creatures. All those phantom armies of fanatics, irresistible, innumerable, had dwindled down to this poor raw handful of cynical youngsters who must be coddled lest they sulk in their barracks. Now in this desperate pass Japan was reaping the harvest of arrogance, distrust, tyranny and wanton cruelty. It was no longer mere foreboding. Samson had pulled the temple down over his head and the deadly avalanche had broken all over Asia.

Returning to Miyanoshita in the evening I saw the Burmese military attache for the first time in many weeks. He was feverish with excitement. The secret plans he had confined in me so often had matured. The Burmese national army had gone over to the British. He was in an anguish of impatience and regret. He had been one of the founders of that army. He had trained with it in secret hideouts off the coast of China even before the war. He had marched with it into Burma at the heels of the British. He had shared its disillusionment, its rage, its plane for revenge on the Japanese. Now, at the crucial moment, he was sitting in an hotel room at the foot of Fuji. He was my best friend in Japan. He had shared many secrets and I had always thought I knew all there was to know about him. But now, as he laughed his curious laugh and strode and stamped about the room, he seemed to me for the first time to be a symbol for all of Asia. He had suffered much at the hands of the white man, whom he had hated. Thrown into prison at 19, his career in medicine ruined at the very start, his private life thenceforth harried and hurt by police, he had spent 10 years agitating for the independence of his people. He had believed in Japan as the liberator of Asia and he had been betrayed. Liberation had become a mockery. The liberator, a clumsy and hateful tyrant. And now, if he still hated Britain, he hated Japan even more. Asia had found a new master and a new enemy.


12th May 1945

The spy scare continues to mount. Japan is alone against the world and all foreigners are suspect. Chatting with other Filipinos in the lobby of the Dai-Ichi hotel I was approached by a well-dressed Japanese. He came up with a smile and for a moment I thought I had met him somewhere. But he himself said afterward that he had made mistake; he apologized and then calmly joined our group and asked questions. Who were we? What nationality? What were we waiting for? Where did we live?

Later in the day Anita arrived from Miyanoshita. She had come down together with an Italian acquaintance. He was blonde, red-faced, obviously a foreigner and she looked like a Japanese to the policeman at the streetcar stop near the embassy. It was some time before he was convinced that he had not bagged a brace of spies.

Afterward, explaining and aplogizing for the incident, one or our Japanese interpreter told me two stories of real espionage. An admiral in full uniform had been stopped by the military police while driving in a secret factory district. The admiral was furious but the suspicions of the kempei had been aroused by the fact that his car was not a navy car. They proved to be justified. The man turned out to be an impostor and a spy. In another factory district a man in the uniform of an army lieutenant had asked to board at a farmhouse, explaining that he was assigned for duty in one of the plants nearby. He won the confidence of the old couple on the farm with the story that he was an orphan. Eventually he was even adopted and married to the daughter of the family. He asked many casual questions and they were answered. One day the factory was wiped out by a raid. The daughter, who was working there, was killed. The man never came back.

From another source I heard why the American raids are so accurate. The military police had long puzzled over the fact that the B-29’s were consistently hitting the right targets in a certain factory. They were not fooled, it seemed, by the most ingenious camouflage and the most convincing dummies. They were at a loss until one of the townspeople remarked to a friend that it was funny that his neighbor, the wife of the factory’s technical director, should always be at her sewing-machine, pedaling furiously whenever there was an air-raid. The police were intrigued. One day, at the height of a raid, they surrounded the house. Inside they caught the director transmitting information through a secret radio set while his wife worked at the sewing machine to muffle the noise. The man and his entire family were shot. He was a skilled technician who had come back to Japan on an exchange boat.

Whether these stories are true or not, they form the staple of conversation in diplomatic circles, together with the rations and black-market connections. The wife of one Italian diplomat said she has a stiff leg recently and called masseur. A man showed up and started off by asking questions. Where had she sprained her leg? Why? With whom? Finally he thanked her and left, promising to send a real masseur. At least, she consoles herself now, the police agent did not actually start massaging her leg.

A Portuguese was recently called in by the military police. What had she been talking about on a certain day when she had walked to Roppongi in a black dress and a green hat? She could not remember. It was two years ago.

The Fujiya hotel has a swimming pool and a group of Axis diplomats were sunning themselves around in one morning. In a short while a Japanese strolled up. Calmly he took off his shoes and coat and made himself comfortable in a lounge chair. He was obviously listening to the conversation and the diplomats turned to the innocuous topic of Chinese food. Most of them had been in China and now they reminisced hungrily of Peking duck, sweet and sour sauce, pickled eggs, and thick asparagus soup with chicken. The police agent was obviously puzzled. What was there to report in this series of culinary memoirs? Finally he could stand it no longer. He raised himself, turned, and asked: “Excuse, please. You talk about Chinese cooking, no?

“Yes,” answered one Italian cautiously. “Anything wrong?”

“No, nothing wrong. You like Chinese cooking?”

“Well, yes, we like Chinese cooking and,” he added discreetly, “also Japanese cooking.”

“What kind Chinese cooking?” the policeman suddenly demanded with the air of a hunter who has cornered his prey.

“What kind? You mean, north or south Chinese?”

“No, no. Please answer. What kind Chinese cooking you like? Nanking or Chunking?”

But the Japanese are the worst victims of their own spy-scare. A Japanese in Miyanoshita, who is married to a German lady he met during his studies in Berlin, does not dare walk in the streets of the village with his wife anymore. The same German woman, met the son and daughter of a Japanese marquis on the train from Tokyo the other day. They were old friends and they chatted amiably. As soon as they got off, however, the two Japanese were taken in to kempei headquarters. Why, they were asked, had they been talking to the foreign woman? What had they talked about?

But the boy was too quick-witted for them. “Is there anything to prohibit us from talking to a Japanese subject?” he asked.

“No,” the police agreed. “But this woman….”

This woman is married to a Japanese and therefore she herself is a Japanese subject.”

They were released. But they, like very other Japanese in the vicinity, have now let it be known to their foreign friends that they will have to be excused if they no longer exchange words or even salutes.

The life of a Burmese diplomat, for one, understands perfectly. To amuse herself one day she painted the fingernails of her favorite maid a vivid red. In the afternoon she decided to take a short trip and sent the maid to the railway to buy a ticket.

In a few minutes she was back, weeping copiously and pleading for some polish remover. The station-master had refused to sell a ticket to a Japanese girl with painted fingernails “like the hairy devils”.


11th May 1945

A small peace clique is now taking shape in Japan. One of its leaders is sopposed to be General Ugaki who has, according to the story, openly announced his readiness to negotiate a peace through his former good friend, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. Ugaki has never been on good terms with his army colleagues; the army overthrew him when he was premier because he tried to cut the army budget. Now the military police is keeping an eye on Ugaki. The former Japanese ambassador to London, Yoshida, has already been arrested.

But the mass of the people is still for the war; while the Suzuki cabinet is none too popular, the premier himself has won the hearts of the people with his opening statement calling for victory “even over my dead body”. The army however is definitely out of favor. The present cabinet is a navy cabinet and, as one indication, its war minister stood in the last row in the official photographs. My informant had one more version of the fall of Koiso. The former premier, he said, has resigned because he disagreed with the army chiefs on strategy; that as the core of the official and semi-official explanations hinting at a lack of coordination between the armed forces and the administration. The army wanted to fight in Burma and the Philippines; Koiso, perhaps with an eye on internal conditions, favored withdrawal, at least of the bulk of the air force, to the homeland for defense against the B-29’s. Koiso seems to have won his point in defeat because it is said that the air garrison in Tokyo has been considerably strengthened while the Philippine and Burmese armies have been practically abandoned.


10th May 1945

As the last breached wall of Hitler’s Reich crumbled and collapsed, Japan peered through the choking cloud of rumor, report, glimmering hope and thickening despair and as it settled over the ruins of the new order in Europe, found herself alone against the world. There could no longer be a doubt; Germany had surrendered; Germany had ceased to exist. In Tokyo, lying naked in her wounds a under the shadow of this disaster, the Imperial Japanese Government hurriedly called an extraordinary meeting of the cabinet in the premier’s official residence at 4 o’clock yesterday afternoon. By 6:30 p.m. an official statement had been adopted. Half an hour later, in awe and trepidation, the tall old admiral, proceeded in his sagging corpulence to the imperial palace and “reported the matter to the throne.” At 7:30 p.m. the following statement was released by the board of information.

“The empire regrets from the bottom of its heart the surrender of Germany, a country which was an ally of Japan. The war objective of the empire, from the start, has lain and still lies in the right of the empire to existence and self-defense. This is the immutable conviction of the empire and a sudden change in the European war situation does not cause the slightest alteration in this war objective of the empire. The empire seeks together with its allies in East Asia to crush the inordinate ambition of the United States and Britain to trample East Asia underfoot with their selfish designs and brute force. The empire seeks thereby to guarantee the stability of East Asia.”

Ringed by foes, at bay on her burning island, with the earth already shaking and slipping underneath in the first echoing tremors from Europe, Japan fiercely assured herself that she had never known defeat and would never know it. The Germans were different. “I hate the idea of whipping a dead body,” wrote Lieutenant-General Yahei Oba in the Asahi today, “but I feel that there was one important thing lacking in the fighting strength of the Germans. That was the spirit of the special attack corps and also the morale of the close-in attach with drawn sword in hand.” The postmortem had started and would continue for some time. Germany, according to the vernaculars, lost because she failed to invade England in 1940, because she put too much faith in the submarine-counter-blockade, because she went to war with the U.S.S.R. because the Nazis clashed with the Reichswehr, because Hitler lost control of the party, because Himmler quarreled with Goering and Goering quarreled with Goebbels and Ley. The Tokyo Shimbun said what to the Japanese must have been the last word: “There is something in the attitude of the German people that is incomprehensible to us Japanese. For us the word surrender does not exist in the dictionary.” But a Japanese told me a meaningful story today. When the tripartite pact was announced in Tokyo, the former foreign minister Katsuoka had an ominous comparison for it, one familiar to every Japanese. Germany and Japan, he said, were lovers who had made a suicide pact.

 

 

 


9th May 1945

Language has its subtle treacheries and they are probably nowhere more plentiful than in the ordinary translation from Japanese into English. This morning’s Times carries two articles on the special attack corps that, largely perhaps from differences in expression and ways of thought, stumble from the pathetic to the silly and then step suddenly into genuine emotion.

The first is the account of a visit by a staff-member of the Asahi to a tokotai unit. It follows: “The quarters of the members of the special attack corps were located in a very plain building. There were no mats to be seen on the floor. Instead there were two quilts and two mattresses per man, gifts from the people of the neighboring village. In an inner room was an altar. Before it were placed two caskets containing the ashes of comrades who had given their lives to keep the enemy away from their beloved country. All the men wore their flying suits throughout the day. They had no other clothes. It was exactly six hours before their departure on a campaign from which they had no hope of returning alive, that I visited their quarters. Sergeant-Major Shimote of Hiroshima prefecture and Sergeant-Major Watanabe of Ehime prefecture were bending over a map that was spread out on the floor. In their left hands they held rulers. They were drawing lines lengthwise and crosswise. Sergeant Takeda of Shizuoka prefecture knelt down beside Sergeant-Major Shimote, asking: “We are to change course at x degree, aren’t we?” The heads of the sergeant and the sergeant-major came into contact. As one of them said something, the other nodded. This they did several times; each time their heads bumped together. But they made no attempt to prevent their heads from colliding. They were so deeply immersed in their work that it seemed they found infinite pleasure in it.

“Sergeant-Major Hashimoto of Hiroshima prefecture was sharpening a pencil nearby. He kept sharpening it only to keep breaking off the point. He repeated this several times. At length when the pencil had grown too short, he put it away and, producing another pencil, set about sharpening it. He was equally unfortunate in this attempt. But he kept sharpening with untiring energy, which was a quite a wonder to me. As I watched him at his work I felt an excitement such as is produced by the sight of some dramatic event. I felt as though my heart were being wrung. I found difficulty in breathing. Then a thought flashed across my mind. I felt my throat tightening. The four men before me were truly wonderful. There was nothing unusual about them. It would have their movements and speech had suggested even in the remotest manner that these four fliers were on the point of going to meet death. But there was nothing of that.

“After much hesitation I suggested that people in general were under the impression that the men of the special attack corps were doomed to die. The answer to this came from Sergeant-Major Watanabe: “Everybody is wondering about that. It is of no importance to us. From the time I change over to aviation I determined not to get married.” He added after a short pause: ‘To tell the truth, I do not remember having got it into my head to have a definite view of life and death.’

“Here Sergeant-Major Hirate entered, holding a casket containing the ashes of a comrade of his, Sergeant-Major Nakamura. Saying it was getting late, and that it was time to go to bed, he lay himself upon the mattress.

“‘We are to leave the ground in formation so be careful not to be half-asleep and crash into my buttocks,” said Sergeant-Major Watanabe to Sergeant-Major Hirate as he also went to bed.

“Presently a man from the communications corps came in. To him Sergeant-Major Shimote said: “Be sure to be on your guard. It will not be for more than an hour from X to X o’clock. Be sure.’ He repeated this several times in a loud voice. What the signal man was asked to do was to get in touch with the base by wireless the moment the members of the special attack corps rammed into the enemy. The report should be a confirmation of the fact that the members had fulfilled their mission and at the same time it would be something of a farewell to their mother-country.

“I produced a cigarette and asked Sergeant Hashimoto to give me a light I pressed the end of my cigarette to the lighted one of Sergeant Hashimoto and puffed away vigorously. I did this two or three times in the belief that by inhaling the smoke of a cigarette lighted by a member of the special attack corps, I would become imbued with the spirit of the corps. Sergeant Hashimoto was looking at me in wonder as I went through this performance. As I returned his cigarette to him, my hand touched his. I felt that there was nothing to distinguish my hand from his. I and the members of the special attack corps bathed together. We drank together. We sang together. We joked with one another. Essentially we were the same and yet we were different. Aloud I wondered why. Sergeant-Major Watanabe, who had overheard me, turned to me and said: ‘It is because you think about death too deeply.…”

x x x

The second article is by a correspondent of the Mainichi at the base of the Koma unit of the special attack corps. He writes: “One night when the members of the Koma unit were in their barracks, warming up for the action scheduled on the next day, an officer came up to me. In his hand was a square notebook which he asked me to place in his mother’s hands. A glance at the book showed that there were two Y100 notes between the pages. On the cover were written the words: To Mother, as well as his full name and the unit to which he belonged. ‘I’ll be glad to oblige you,’ I told him. A short silence fell. ‘I suppose you would not like me to see the contents of the book,’ I said, looking into his face with the air of a man who is afraid his request will be refused. ‘I have written nothing of a confidential nature there,’ he replied. ‘But I am ashamed of my writing. I was so poor at composition when I was a boy.’ He smiled and continued: ‘I was a spoiled child and must have caused my mother a great deal of trouble.’ The young sub-lieutenant spoke very quietly. I found it hard not to bow to him when he finished speaking. Here are some of the entries in sub-lieutenant Watanabe’s diary:

“Mother, I think that you will rejoice at my having joined the special attack corps. I and the rest of us have been the recipients of great imperial favors, as were our ancestors. Nothing is a greater honor to me than to be able to requite even the smallest portion of the imperial favor which has been granted to us and those who went before us….

“‘We came into the world to die. We have now learned to die….

“‘Mother, I am going along young airmen, some of whom are barely 20, and all of whom I have taught. Oh, Mother, shed tears for them. In their youthfulness, assailed by momentary thoughts of home, they are said to have shed tears throughout the night after receiving orders to take the field….

“‘Since I came to live at the barracks it has been my custom to go out to the middle of the airfield in the dead of night and pray that I may not be behind the others in offering my life for our country. Tonight there was a half-moon in the sky. As I looked up to it many thoughts crowded into my mind. I remembered a spring festival at a shrine, which I attended with my mother. I was dressed in a brand-new dark-blue suit with a knitted shirt that smelled strongly of camphor. In my right hand I clutched some candy that my mother had bought for me along the way….

“‘Today I find myself overwhelmed by emotion. This base is the last corner of Japanese land upon which my feet will stand. Tomorrow I am to take off. My mind is as clear as the bright sky of Japan. Mother, sayonara.’”