19th May 1945

The diplomatic corps in Japan has fallen on evil days. It was dull enough after all the allied representatives were exchanged. Then Italy surrendered and the royalists were thrown into internment camp where, according to the story, the wife of the ambassador had to wash her own clothes. One by one the Axis satellites followed and the Rumanians, the Bulgars, the Finns, went off on their anxious trek home across Soviet Siberia, loaded with dry meat, hard biscuits, and smoked fish. Tokyo started to burn and the neutrals –the Swiss, the Swedes, the Spaniards– fled to the northern mountains of Karuizawa. The Soviets holed up in Gora. Only in Miyanoshita a little of the sparkle survived unheated rooms, language barriers, and mushy noodles every other day.

Now even the Fujiya has fallen into a melancholy stupor.The bridge tables in the lounge are empty. People talk in whispers, looking over their shoulders, along the quaint winding corridors or by the rocky pool, flashing with red and golden carp. It started with the Vichy French after France was liberated; now the blight has fallen on the Nazis and the fascists. They have been instructed by the police to talk only to their own countrymen, French with French, Germans with Germans, Italians with Italians. The tall blond Hungarian countess has already fled, in all her distraught elegance, to her French husband in Maruizawa; there was no one she could talk to in the hotel. It is scarcely a hardship for the Germans and the Italians; their groups are so numerous that they do not lack company. They have other troubles. The German ambassador has been summoned to the foreign office to learn what measures will now be taken “against the German embassy.” The Italians are wringing their hands because their assets have been frozen. How shall they pay their hotel bill if no money is forthcoming from Rome or Tokyo? But they cling to their racial pride; never, never, not even the humblest able-bodied seaman among them, will they ever work for the Japanese, under a Japanese boss, with Japanese at their side.

However it is we who have suffered most from the interdiction on international intercourse. We are only two Filipinos in the hotel; the Chinese and Manchu do not speak English well, if at all; the Thai keep to themselves; the Burmans have been our closest friends but it is impossible to be with them every night. The colonel and his exotic wife are very kind and amusing. We like them immensely; they are the only ones we trust. Still, the colonel has already shown us his collection of ancient decorated Japanese sword-guards, hundreds of them, intricate with entwined cherry-blossoms or chastely romantic with a hooting owl flying across the face of a tiny moon. He is investing his money in them; they are unbreakable, sought after by collectors, better than paper yen. We have also listened to Violet’s (her Burmese name is Lala) experiences with Japanese maids: the one who suddenly ran away in Maruizawa so that she had to push her baby’s pram three miles up a rocky mountain road; the one who stole her husband’s shirts; the flirt who, cribbling lipstick, wandered about in the garden under the window of the room where the Burmese cadets were playing poker, singing inviting love-songs until well past midnight; the police-agent who always took an hour off after lunch to report to kempei headquarters; the lame idiot whom they had engaged precisely because the police could not possibly get anything out of her; the reedy one who started by asking for bread, then wanted butter on it, then jam. A day came when there was neither butter nor jam to be had so Violet gave her bread with Japanese bean paste. “Whoever heard of eating that?” the maid cried and quit.

We have esten so much of the colonel’s private Chinese food and his special stock of chocolate that we are heartily ashamed of ourselves. Tonight we talked to our sole alternative, the Polish couple. He is a a short fleshy man with a great predatory nose. He came out to the east when a white man could make a fortune overnight and he did. Now it is said that he pays the highest income-tax in Manchoukuo. But he had to flee the country shortly before the war. He had received to many anonymous threats of kidnapping. One night a group of masked marauders broke into his mansion in Harbin. A Chinese servant slipped out quietly and locked the bandits in while he went for the police his master was forced to open his private safe and hand over his valuables. Afterward the bandits tried to force the Pole to go with them. They had an eye on a fat ransom. But he managed to hold them off until the police arrived. Were they bandits or political agents? At any rate the tycoon learned his lesson. He sold a half-interest in his holdings to the Japanese and surrendered to them the management and active control of his factories. Then he moved out. He and his wife took the last Japanese ship out of Japan; they were only a day from Hawaii when Pearl Harbor was attacked. The ship turned around and ran for home. He has lived in Fujiya since then. He was here when the Americans and British diplomats waited for the exchange ship that was to take them home. He can even recall the days when that empty wall in the main lounge was covered by a huge map of Greater East Asia, bright with the victorious flags of the imperial forces. Now he mopes in the lobby the the whole day; he misses his great financial fief in Harbin; he cannot even concentrate enough to write another of his treatises in defense of capitalism or, rather, of the entrepreneur and the manager.

I suspect he is not very welcome as a conversationalist. His habits of command and unquestioned superiority, sharpened by an irritable boredom, make him argue when he should chat pleasantly. He is, in his own way, intensely unhappy. He is undoubtedly a brilliant and energetic man; he spent part of his youth in a Russian prison as a Polish nationalist; he made his mark in his early twenties when he was an obscure clerk in the Russian railways by submitting a masterly report on the reorganization of the transportation system; he is not the man to sit idly in an upholstered chair under a potted palm. Besides, hw has known so much wealth that he can no longer adapt himself to the rigors of war. Tonight he talked to me of a decoration he had received in recognition of his contributions to the development of Manchoukuo. The decoration, as wll as an invaluable portrait of the emperor, had originally been granted him in 1940. At the last moment however someone had remembered that he was a Pole, that Poland had ceased to exist, and that there might be complications with Germany and the U.S.S.R. if a Pole were honored as such. Consequently he was given quietly the kudos only recently after the resurrection of Poland and the disappearance of Nazi Germany. He had the in his room now; they were precious possessions. “But,” he laughed, and this time there was no bitterness in his eyes but only a genuinely amused twinkle of discovery, “you know, I cannot get a pound of butter for them.”


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.

 

 

 


7th May 1945

For the past four days the Japanese government and press have mourned for Hitler and his Reich, Mussolini and his Republic. In the afternoon of the 3rd Suzuki expressed his “profound sympathy”. At the same time Togo called on the German ambassador to express deep condolences. The next day Iguchi, the official spokesman, eulogizing Hitler, declared that “his spirit, his labors, and his ideals will surely live in the hearts and minds of the German people. He will leave an indelible mark in history as one of the greatest leaders of nations, as a man of great vision who peered far ahead into the future, and as a man of action and labored with messianic zeal to create an order in Europe which would ensure stability, peace, and progress.” The press was not slow to follow the official lead. The Mainichi on Hitler and Mussolini: “Two great stars falling from the sky, trailing a magnificent glory behind them….” The Nippon Sangyo Keizai: “Tears of sympathy…” The Times on Hitler: “One of the towering characters of world history..”

But now the mourners are back from the graveyard and they are sitting uneasily in the lawyer’s office, waiting for the will to be read. The new heir does not look too friendly and the estate is bankrupt. Yesterday, calling a press conference hastily, the foreign minister made it clear that if the new Doenitz government was, as reported, making a separate peace with the Anglo-Americans, it was violating the tri-partite pact and Japan was consequently reserving freedom of action. Dutifully echoing the new line Asahi grumbled: “It is very regrettable that Germany has lost her political vision and virtue and ignored international goodfaith….”

 

 

 


3rd May 1945

“Is it true that Hitler has been killed?” asked our maid this morning. I told her that it was only a rumor but that it was definite Mussolini had been shot. She did not seem to care about Mussolini but she mourned for the Fuehrer.

“What do you care?” I asked her. “He was not a Japanese and besides, you do not know the many bad things he did.”

But nothing could shake her admiration for the bold ruthless man whose picture she had so often seen in the newspapers. “He was a great man,” she insisted. “He loved his country and he died fighting for it.” She groped in her mind for the words that would make me understand. Then she said decisively: “He should have been a Japanese.”


1st May 1945

Today the Mainichi brought the first reaction to the surrender of Germany. “In the supposition that this report is true,” the paper writes the following analysis: “In the first place we want to remind our readers that the European war and the war of Greater East Asia are not one and the same thing. In their underlying causes they may have an extremely close resemblance. But they were by no means planned together…. Therefore the end of the European war will not mean the end of the war of Greater East Asia. The second question is what effect the surrender of Germany and Italy will have on our fighting strength. The answer has two parts. The first concerns the amount of support we are losing. Although we are not experts in military affairs, we can easily imagine whet amount and what kind of help we have been receiving from our allies far away in Europe. Consequently it cannot be said that we shall suffer any particular loss in this direction. The other point is this: what are America and Britain going to do with the surplus of fighting strength they have now obtained in Europe? It would be of no use to make any light conjectures. It is possible to imagine certain things…. However, at the present moment, it is better to refrain from doing so….”

Waiting for the tram at Miyanoshita, I came across an Italian acquaintance, a former naval officer, together with a Japanese girl and a Japanese man. The man bowed cordially to the Italian, when the tram finally came around the bend, wishing him a safe trip and a speedy return. He acted like a solicitous old friend. The girl did not say a word to either of the two; she appeared tovbe a complete stranger. She boarded the tram without a look behind her and stood quietly in a corner. Only those who knew them were aware of the fact that the girl was the Italian’s common-law wife, a former barmaid from Kobe. She had come up to the hotel for a short visit to her lover. But Japan was at war with the white man and, although she loved one, she must do so secretly, behind closed shutters. She was not pretty but she knew, as few Japanese girls do, how to wear European clothes. They made her look even lonelier in her corner of the tram, by the smudged window, out of which she was looking with a defiant misery. The man, neither of them knew. He was a military policeman who had conscientiously shadowed them during her entire stay.

The trip to Tokyo was interesting in itself. Yesterday morning 200 bombers and fighters raided Tachikawa, Hiratsuka, and Atsugi for about an hour. Hiratsuka is on the line from Odawara to Tokyo and when we neared it, we were ordered to pull down the blinds. Supervision was not very strict however and I caught a glimpse of the new landscape, flat and streaming under the dusty sun.


30th April 1945

Amid rumors of Germany’s unconditional surrender, the board of information yesterday announced that on the 27th April the prime minister and the highest army and navy leaders exchanged “frank views” particularly on “the unification and manifestation of the fighting strength of the army and the navy”. A vernacular explains: “There had been rumors circulating among the people about a disagreement between the army and the navy. It is considered regrettable that such doubts should have arisen even in the slightest degree in this critical situation.” Not too sanguine about the solution of the perennial problem which has helped to ruin the other two war cabinets, the Asahi “wonders what concrete measures were decided upon. At present there are no means for curing details.”


6th January 1945

Overcome Mounting Taxation Increase Through Temperance;

Let’s Refrain from Drinking and Making Unnecessary Trips

Thus the Asahi headlines a new increase in taxes, the ninth since the start of the China Affair. The increase has been made in the classified income tax and the luxury taxes on alcoholic drinks, theater entertainment and travel.

An eyewitness story of life in Germany today, published by the Yomiuri, is a muffled protest against this pious preaching of “temperance” in starvation. It gives us one of three reasons why the Germans are holding out the claim that “the Germans have the best music in the world.” The Germans, says the account, don’t have to listen to “sermons” every time they turn on the radio; instead, they get music, good music, and in the same way the Nazis give the Germans circuses as well as bread to make them forget their troubles.

I asked a Japanese once why the Japanese government had forbidden fun; why it had locked up the bars, conscripted the geisha, starved the theaters, rationed the films, arrested anyone who dared to dance; why it had allowed, nay pushed, scolded, and driven the people into a joyless squalor unimaginable in the past. Would it not have been wiser to make it possible for them to forget their troubles once in a while?

No, he answered me, Japanese psychology was different. The Japanese did not want to drown their sorrows; they liked to pick at their wounds and scars. If they were at war, they were at war all the time. They took war seriously; “that is why we win”. Besides how could any true Japanese have fun when the man of the tokotai were riding on bombs and hurling themselves into annihilation?

But the Japanese mentality is not so “different”. Men line up for blocks in this searing cold to get a glass of beer; they will trade their food for rice wine and get drunk on one unaccustomed swallow, to lurch and stumble, shout and bluster, gambol and weep, home to their lousy hovels. The women stuff every train carriage put to the country with their babies and their bundles, they spend stifling hours in the coarse intimacies of packed suffocating subways and streetcars, to visit and gossip with relatives and friends, trying desperately to find one unrationed scrap of happiness to share with one another.


June 19, 1941

Things are getting interesting. In answer to Washington’s order closing all German consulates in USA, today Germany and Italy order closure of all US Consulates.


September 3, 1939

This evening we have been listening to broadcasts of Chamberlain’s speech stating that Great Britain was at war with Germany. After months and months of feverish effort to appease and placate the madman that is governing Germany the British and French seem to be driven into a corner out of which they can work their way only by fighting. It’s a sad day for Europe and for the whole civilized world, though for a long time it has seemed ridiculous to refer to the world as civilized. If the war, which now seems to be upon us, is as long drawn out and disastrous, as bloody and as costly as was the so-called World War, then I berlieve that the remnants of nations emerging from it will be scarcely recognizable as the ones that entered it. Communism and anarchy are apt to spread rapidly, while crime and disorder, loss of personal liberties, and abject poverty will curse the aread that witness any amount of fighting. It doesn’t seem possible that people that proudly refer to themselves as intelligent could let the situation come about. Hundreds of millions will suffer privations and starvation, millions will be killed and wounded because one man so wills it. He is a power-drunk egocentric, but even so he would still not do this if he were sane. He is one of the criminally insane, but unfortunately he is the absolute ruler of 89,000,000 people. And by his personal magnetism, which he must have, he has converted a large proportion of those millions to his insane schemes and to blind acceptance of his leadership. Unless he is succesful in overcoming the whole world by brute force the final result will be that Germany will have to be dismembered and destroyed.

I have had some degree of admiration for Mussolini, none, ever, for Hitler. The former has made some tragic, stupid, mistakes. But he at least has seemed able as an administrator, and for a dictator, has abstained from the use of the “blood purge” in maintaining himself in power. Hitler’s record with the Jews, his rape of Austria, of the Czechs, the Slovaks, and now the Poles is as black as that of any barbarian of the Dark Ages.

A big question of the moment is, “What will Italy do?” Personally, I’m going out on a limb and answer that Mussolini will not go into the war on the side of Germany. One big reason for this conclusion [is] that the Italian is smart enough to know what would happen to him after a victory by Hitler and his allies. They’d all take orders from the maniac. . . . . No master of Europe can have an equal partner. If Mussolini does not fight with Hitler, what will he do? The answer to that is, “For the present, nothing.” My guess, and god knows I do not pose as one of those all-seeing persons that utter prophecies with the confidence of a new Delphic oracle, is that the Duce will hang back as long as her can, preferably until both sides are near exhaustion then . . . . . attempt to use his own forces to settle the outcome and, if possible, make himself the strong man of Europe.

It is my guess that only a wide spread conviction of sub-conscious feeling that our own eventually safety demanded active intervention will ever get us actively engaged, unless we are attacked.

The crisis has made me more than ever anxious to get home.

I want to be back with my own army to watch and be part of our own development and preparations; also to keep in closer touch with the daily record of the war as it is made. We’re too far away in Manila; our papers are not particularly informative and short-wave radio is not yet an adequate system of broadcasting information.