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.”


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….”

 

 

 


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.


March 4, 1936

Talk in the office with Dr. Schay, a Jewish refugee who escaped from the Nazis; he was the editor of the second largest newspaper in Germany–was sitting with a friend playing chess in a cafe in Berlin, when he heard of the burning of the Reichstag. He telephoned at once to his wife to bring his suitcase to the station, reached Aachen, and walked across the border to Belgium. I asked him; “The Nazis burned the Reichstag, didn’t they?” “Of course,” he replied and added that there was a “will to war” among the Nazis as soon as they could arm; they were then lacking in fortresses, and in heavy artillery; their aviation was now the largest in Europe. They mean to get the Danzig corridor back; Poland was to be “compensated” by annexing the northern part of the Ukraine–war would be made by Germany and Poland on Russia in the Spring of 1937–but things could change before that. Schay means to open a school for Filipinos in Manila.