8th August 1945

The details of the new bomb are still “under investigation”. One feels that the authorities are just an puzzled and bewildered by the whole thing as anybody else; they are certainly withholding the extent of the damage but do they know any more than the average man about the nature of its cause? was it one bomb or several? Was it an incendiary bomb, an explosive, a combination of both?

The first accounts in the local press are cautious. The Asahi’s is typical. “Shortly after 8 o’clock in the morning of the 6th August,” it reads, “a small number of B-29’s invaded the city of Hiroshima and dropped a small number of bombs. Due to this action a considerable number of houses in the city collapsed and fires were caused at various places. In conducting the attack the enemy seems to have used new-type bombs. These bombs were dropped by parachute and exploded before reaching the ground, it is indicated. The force
of the new bombs is now under investigation but it appears that it cannot be made light of”.

“Because of the possibility that the enemy may again employ this type of bombs,” the Asahi continues after a paragraph on “inhuman cruelty”, “counter-measures against it will be shown by the authorities concerned without any loss of time. In the meantime an early dispersion of cities, an adjustment of the so-called side-cave anti-air-raid shelters, and other air-defense measures should be pushed. Judging from the latest enemy attack, it is dangerous to exceedingly despise an air-raid even though it is done by a small number of planes.”

The Americans have announced that leaflets have already been dropped warning the Japanese of the new bomb’s unprecedented destructive power and the Asahi ends its story by calling on the people “not to be misguided”. Perhaps in preparation for an official declaration on the bomb the Times today, which has not yet carried a story on Hiroshima, editorializes on “The incalculable Reserve”.

“The enemy attacks with a meticulous precision awesome to behold,” begins the Times. “He brings into effective play his slide-rule and compass, his charts and instruments. He apparently knows through photography and a vast and well-laid espionage network the locations and nature of the vital organs which are necessary to the conduct of this war. Even of the things that he does not know, he seems to have the technical craft and equipment with which to calculate the greater part of the same. There is only one thing which completely defies his diabolical calculations and that is the spiritual reserve of the Japanese people.

“Such a reserve has been noted elsewhere in the recent past. Surely Leningrad, Stalingrad, and Moscow could not have been held with guns alone. If material weight alone had been the final criterion in the conflict, Yiojima and Okinawa should have fallen weeks sooner at a far cheaper cost to the enemy. In the Japanese eye the special attack force is not a ‘suicide’ squad, as our materialistic enemy sees it; it is one of the incalculables in its most concrete expression…”

After contrasting Germany and Japan the Times continues: “The present war is likely to be regarded as a conflict between science and the spirit. Fundamentally the present move into Asia is an encroachment of Western science upon Oriental spirit. In this light the unfathomable reserve of the Japanese people takes on significance of a new hue. That spiritual strength becomes not merely the reserve; for Asia it becomes the very ultimate of the
war in the Pacific.

“To the factors of material, money, and men that go to make possible the prosecution of war, science and spirit must also be added. Just as science finds motivation from the brain, so spirit gets inspiration from the heart. As the movements of material and money must await the guiding hand of science, so the action of men must find its root in spirit. While there is the flash of genius in one, there is imperturbable resolution in the other. While one must necessarily have a limit, the other is limitless…”

And the Times concludes: “It is not wishful thinking but a statement of fact that while there remains the possibility that the stupendous weight of material the enemy possesses can be entirely consumed, the spiritual resolve of the Japanese people is not only incalculable but imperishable and inexhaustible.”

There is an exasperating emptiness to these eloquent and elegantly-balanced phrases. It is like listening to a professor belaboring a syllogism while the classroom burns. The man is splitting hairs when a bomb is splitting atoms. Perhaps a year of a hundred years from now philosophers and historians will have the perspective to weigh the relative values of Western science and Oriental spirit. Right now we are more interested in what will happen to us, whether it is safe to take the train to Tokyo tomorrow, whether the new bomb will poison water, whether peace will come.

I know I should be thinking of the implications of a bomb that can wipe out two-thirds of a great city at one fell stroke but somehow the mind refuses to pick up the problem and it lies at my feet ticking with a quiet insistence. The question of peace is the farthest that the mind will reach. Some say: “It’s over. The Japs will have to give up.” Others are not so sure. They mumble about exaggerated propaganda or they cry in despair that the Japanese are crazy; they will die rather than surrender. To them the measured cadences of the Times editorial today have the sinister sound of a man walking to the gallows.

Yes, the Japanese will stick it out, they say. They will burn in their cities, disappear in a sickening flash, and then the gaunt roasted survivors will dig in, in the caves and crevices of mountains, by a last lonely beach. The Yomiuri today quotes von Clausewitz on the requirements for successful guerrilla war-
fare and notes with satisfaction that all are present in Japan. Can the Americans split the Japanese atom? Or will Japanese “spirit” prove tougher than U-235?

Psychological speculation is scant comfort for those of us who are caught here between scientific murder and a suicide complex. Presently the tight groups, heatedly debating peace and war, break up; the mind, frightened by its own reflections, scurries away to its favorite corner and toys with the familiar com-
monplaces of the day’s paper. Let us see now….

The Japanese army in the southern regions has announced its “assent to the establishmnt in the middle of August of a preparatory commission for East Indian independence.”

The cigarette ration has again been cut from five to three per person per day. In case the production of cigarettes becomes impossible the equivalent amount of cut tobacco will be supplied.

A certain factory in Nagano prefecture has succeeded in producing a substitute for Manila hemp from dwarf bamboo creepers; it is cheaper by 20 yen a pound.

A group of scholars has called for donations of materials for an Okinawa museum and library in Tokyo.

Real summer has started, according to the papers. The rice is flowering about 20 days behind schedule but the rising temperature during the past week may save the situation.

(It is pleasant out here in the garden by the miniature waterfall, sparkling and laughing as it tumbles over, while the red, black, and golden fish wheel silently in the quiet pond.)

Let us see now… The classified ads are always good. Wanted to exchange: bicycle, foreign make, 22 inches, in good condition, for men’s shoes, size 10% men or larger size.

For sale: a set of sofa and three armchairs; easel, almost new, in perfect condition; gentleman’s white linen summer suits and also one white waistcoat; Nippon Gakki upright piano, 85 keys; Vacumatic Parker fountainpen, for immediate sale to highest bidder, also ivory mah-jong set.

Wanted to buy: baby’s perambulator, shoes for girl 5-8 years, linguaphone language series for Russian and others, English books on China, razors, sewing machines, accordions.

(The mind drowses contentedly. Whatever happened to that gentleman who was selling shirts, three white second-hand, two black perfectly new? I wonder what they will serve for lunch…)


9th April 1945

With the cabinet almost complete and the ceremony of imperial investiture held Saturday night, Suzuki yesterday, Sunday, made his first radiocast as premier and gave his first interview to the press. Outwardly it is still a war cabinet; Suzuki is already being compared to Clemenceau, the indomitable old man who led France to victory in the first world war. Perhaps after all the signs were wrong; the old man will not seek peace but death. Still the feeling persists that this is all window-dressing.

Suzuki’s radio address was tuned to a note of sacrifice and immolation rather than victory. “I believe that there are not a few people who were rather surprised that I should have received the imperial order to assume my new post. I who am nearly 80 years old have tried to serve faithfully. However I have had no part in active politics before so that I am naturally not fit to serve. In view of the pressing war situation I have accepted the imperial order with the idea that though I die in this my last post, standing as the very head of the 100 million people, you the people shall ride over my body and overcome the situation our country is now in.”

But the premier’s first interview, as reported by the press this morning, was not so forthright. The interview follows in question and answer form:

Q.– How do you propose to solve the present situation?

A. – I am very old and I doubt if I can do much. Why, at this serious crisis, have I, a mere soldier, had to come to the front? I leave it to your imagination. In regard of the prospects of the war, I think we shall win…. It is a mistake to conclude that we have been defeated, looking only at the superficial aspect of the war. I don’t think we lost in Yiojima. In that battle we gave the enemy & great spiritual blow. If we all get into this frame of mind, if the people are really united and push the war through, we shall not be defeated. That is my belief….

Q. – What will you give priority in your administration? What is the basis of the policy of the new cabinet?

A. – I am a mere soldier and don’t understand politics…. My individual view is that we are at war and war needs no slogans.

Q. – Have you any new ideas for adjusting relations between the high command and the administration?

A. – I don’t know the present state of affairs so I have no ideas as yet on the matter.

Q. – Have you any plans for a smaller three-minister or four-minister super-cabinet?

A. – I am a mere soldier and I have had a great dislike for politics so I have no ideas on the subject. Clemenceau was a statesman from the first and was well versed in political affairs from early youth. I am his diametrical opposite. I have always devoted my attention to military affairs. I shall push everything onward to win the war by all means.

Q. – How about concrete measures for the formation of the national volunteer corps?

A. – As regards this matter, all I know is what I have read in the papers.

Q. – What counter-measures are contemplated concerning the notice of abrogation of the Soviet pact?

A. – I wish to see to this after appointing a full-time foreign minister.

Q. – What measures shall be taken for the production of munitions, especially scientific weapons?

A. – From the strategic viewpoint, the time of fighting with bamboo spears does not come until the final stage so that there is need of securing plentiful supplies of arms. As this is absolutely necessary, even the manufacture of hand grenades from empty tin cans should be undertaken and thus we should endeavor to have as many weapons as possible.”

And so on and so on.

The interview is scarcely credible. Is this the premier of the great Japanese Empire, this naive octogenarian who does mot understand and does not like politics, who believes that Yiojima was a Japanese victory, whose strategical plans are apparently reduced to making hand-grenades out of tin cans, a “mere soldier” who has “no ideas on the subject”? Is this merely a shrewd pose in a country that dislikes and distrusts politicians? Or is Suzuki really the man he appears to be from his interview, a bumbling dreamy old hero, wetting his thumb as turns the pages of his newspapers, bewildered and frightened by his tremendous responsibilities, yearning with all his heart to be off again in a quiet garden, dozing in the sun with fugitive memories of his torpedo attack on the Imperial Chinese fleet half a century ago?

Nor is the quality of the rest of the cabinet reassuring to the Japanese. The Times earnestly tries to make a virtue out of the cabinet’s mediocrity; it “presents no surprises”. The Times prophesies with unconscious lugubriousness: “No radical innovations of questionable soundness, no strong-arm methods of coercion, no frantic search for panaceas, will be indulged in by these men if their background is any criterion. Rather, a vigorous persistent execution of time-tested orthodox means….” The Mainichi is more sensitive to realities. “The Suzuki cabinet is not exactly young blood. Nor can it be called a group of men of the first magnitude. If anything it embraces quite a few bureaucrats.” But the Mainichi notes sharply: “The new prime minister has striven hard to enlist the services of mellow and scrupulous statesmen… (But) mellowness and conscientiousness are not the sole qualifications for those at the helm of the state. The state must be administered by real go-getters who have absolute control of the situation.


5th April 1945

The ruins of the 10th March fire in Tokyo are haunted by a stench of leaking gas. Hundreds of twisted faucets are still dripping in the ruins. Possibly as a result of this there was no water running in the house of my colleagues in Yotsuya, where I put up now when I am in Tokyo. Just as we were going to bed the maid rushed in with the news that the radio had announced the resignation of the Koiso cabinet. It had lasted from Saipan to Yiojima. “The resignation,” said the official announcement of the board of information, “has been decided upon by the cabinet so as to make way for a more powerful cabinet in consideration of the grave situation.” After nine months in office the cabinet was called into special session at 9 o’clock this morning. After collecting the written resignations of his colleagues, General Koiso presented himself at the imperial palace at 10:30 and submitted the resignations en bloc.


23rd March 1945

Saipan led to Yiojima and Yiojima may lead to the mainland, warned the Mainichi today. Apparently in preparation for invasion the vice-minister officer, Shibayama, in reply to interpellations in the commons yesterday, revealed that “the fighting services at present are making nationwide preparations for the organization of a defense corps”. This defense corps will be composed of former service-men, with units in every army regional command in Japan. Their arms will be manufactured locally in the different regions. “In case we directly face an enemy invasion,” concluded Shibayama, “not only this defense corps but also the volunteer corps, the patrol corps, and the police forces, etc., will be unified and mobilized.” The volunteer corps refers to another organization proposed by Koiso himself yesterday; details are not yet available but it will be drawn from the people at large, who will be armed and trained to fight as guerrillas.


22nd March 1945

In a communique dated noon yesterday imperial general headquarters announced the loss of Yiojima. The announcement quoted the last telegram from the garrison: “All the officers and men with the supreme commander at the head launched a dauntless general attack at midnight of March 17, praying for Japan’s sure victory as well as the tranquillity of the imperial land.”

Prior to this last report the supreme commander, Lieutenant-General Tadamichi Kuribayashi, sent the following farewell message: “The war situation has finally reached the last stage. At midnight of March 17, I, your humble officer, at the head all those under my personal direction, shall carry out a final general attack, praying for the sure victory and welfare of the empire. I am satisfied that the Japanese forces have kept up their defense against the enemy offensives from the land, sea, and air, with numerical superiority beyond imagination since their landing. The brave fighting of the officers and men under my command is worthy enough to make even the gods dumbfounded. However our fighting men have fallen one after another before the persistent enemy attacks. I am extremely sorry that circumstances have caused us to let this key position fall into enemy’s hands, for which I offer my thousand apologies. Thinking especially of the fact that the imperial land shall not be placed in a peaceful situation without taking back this island, we expect that we ourselves, though dead, shall herald the coming back of the imperial troops to this island. All our bullets are gone now and no supply of water can be had. One the eve of conducting the last assault by the entire body of men we cannot but be reminded of the gracious imperial benevolence. With this in mind we shall never regret having done our utmost for the cause of the empire. With loud and respectful banzai for the imperial eternity, I, together with the officers and men, offer my last farewell. I hasten to present for your inspection some 31-syllable Japanese poems I have found time to compose:

“1. It grieves me that I have to die, having used up my supply of bullets, it having not been my lot to perform the function I had to the country.

“2. I will not decay on the plain without taking revenge. I will take up arms each of the seven times I come into the world.

“3. My sole thought is about the course of my country at the time when unsightly plants have covered the island.

Lieutenant-General Kuribayashi”

What a fantastic compost of arrogance, humility, incompetence, heroism, pettiness, and greatness, is this farewell message, which combines military advice with poetic sentiment, boasts that the gods have been dumbfounded and then prostrates itself with a thousand apologies. Yet, to take the poems as an instance, one can see through the quaint conceits and unfamiliar metaphors the workings of the essential military spirit, the gleam and fierce splendor of an ageless armored ghost. Churchill would have said “blight” or “fell disease” for “unsightly plants”: MacArthur said “I shall return” instead of “I will not decay”; in every language spoken by man, in every war that has been fought, soldiers have regretted that they had only one life to give for their country, have grieved to leave the job undone, have called for remembrance and revenge. Kuribayashi on Yiojima might have been ten thousand other defeated captains letting out one last angry yell to life.

Meantime in a radiocast to the nation last night Koiso, while admitting that the loss of Yiojima meant that for the first time an integral part of the homeland had been invaded, denied that the defeat was a defeat of Japan’s “spiritual power” by material power. “In taking that small island of about 23 square kilometers, the enemy had not only to bomb it for 70 days but also to concentrate his entire fleet of 800-odd vessels, three divisions and 900 tanks and pour several thousands of tons, of shells from the sea and from the air. When I consider this fact,” said Koiso, “as well as the losses inflicted on the enemy, I cannot but take pride and feel exhilareted at the peerless strength of the spiritual power of the Japanese forces.” But Yiojima fell. And the government itself is making less spectral preparations for the next stage of the campaign.

In addition to a supplementary budget calling for four and a half billion yen, a special military measures bill has been submitted to the diet. According to the official explanation released simultaneously, it provides that “land, buildings, other structures and objects, as well as people, juridical persons, and other public bodies may be mobilized to execute plans for fortifications, fill military needs, and effectuate the other strategic purposes to be designated by imperial ordinance. In other words the government asks authority to take over anyone and anything for war purposes and the official statement blandly grants that this is “likely to affect the constitutional rights of Japanese subjects”.

It is doubtful however if it will lead to anything. Comparing notes with a Spanish diplomat, we agreed on the incomprehensible waste of time, manpower and materials in Japan. The precautions against air-raids had all been eminently futile, the Spaniard complained. They had compelled him, for instance, to build a concrete water-tank in his garden that was never used and failed to save his house. They had conscripted, his servants and cook once a week to dig trench-shelters that probably killed as many people as they saved. He had seen other sighs of disorganization. In spite of an all-embracing mobilization law, the trams and subways were chock-full of able-bodied young men — during working hours. The big munitions companies were still operating on a strictly private basis, producing what they wanted when they wanted, even planes that did not fly. An insane bureaucratic jealousy paralyzed every official measure —- the home office ignored the foreign office and the army sneered at both while the different police bodies cut each other’s throats. The Spaniard was a man with a grudge but every foreign diplomat in Tokyo, without exception, agrees that the “most disciplined” country in the world is the most inefficient and disorganized.

The most dramatic instance of Japanese inefficiency can be found in the heaps of scrap-iron rusting on the streets. More than a year ago all the radiators were torn from homes and offices in a frenzy of enthusiasm; they are still on the sidewalks. Often even the buildings from which they were taken have since burned down and the rusty masses of old steel files, radiators, safes, rot in front of newer heaps of tin and galvanized iron, quickly turning from the fresh bright orange of yesterday’s fire to the older more somber crimson of today’s ruin and desolation. The authorities talk loudly of “powerful” plans and strong measures. But apparently no one can stoop to the details of clearing the debris and shipping off the scrap iron or no one has thought of it. The Japanese have fallen under the baleful spell of their own propaganda on spiritual power. They think they can squat on straw mat, stomach sucked in, fists at their hips, “the soul of the sword” before them, and just stare down a B-29.


21st March 1945

The Times today carried two remarkable stories, both hand-outs of the military press corps.

The first comes from Yiojima. “With the fighting on Yiojima reaching a state of ever-increasing bitterness,” it states, “Unit Commander Masuo Ikeda decided to ‘win by dying’. His determination was carried through completely to each of his men. So many volunteered for his close-quarters combat force that he was hard put to select his men. When the force was picked each man was given a mark with the word, ‘flesh’ written in red in the center of the cherry blossom. The conversation of the men in this force dealt mostly with the ideas on how to kill the greatest possible number of the enemy. That each would die himself was a foregone conclusion. The training was furious; it was simultaneously training to kill one’s self. Supreme commander Kuribayashi and his staff expressed amazement at the furor of the training. They said they had nothing more to ask nor did they see any necessary revision in their scheme of training. Standing by his men practicing to die, Unit Commander Ikeda felt a pain in his heart.

“Whenever I give the command, these men will die, and willingly,” he used to say, pointing to his force….

“Holes were dug in the ground and empty drums lowered into each. A man with a land-mine entered each drum. The drums were covered with earth and the surface made to appear natural. The man in each can sat in the cramped space with his mine, listening intently for the approach of the enemy. One enemy soldier was allowed to pass — or two, small prey. When a 40- or 50-man force came overhead the Japanese soldier inside the drum seized his chance. Now was the time to die. He set off his mine and blew himself and the enemy force to bits….

“This was a new method of attack which the enemy could not have thought of. It was a method of attack which only the Japanese could carry out. The will of the Ikeda death band to die in order to win was more fiery than the boiling sulphuric water which shoots up from. Yiojima.”

The second story would be of particular interest in the Philippines. It follows the adventures of Yokohama-born 18-year-old Miss Komaji Okada who is said to have escaped from Saipan three days after the invasion. “As one of the escaping party she was helped by natives who provided food and a simple dug-out boat which they rowed down a small river. For two days and two nights they drifted in the open sea when suddenly an enemy plane appeared and rained a hail of machine-gun bullets on the poor defenseless party. There was no recourse but to jump into the water to protect themselves from the deadly missiles. Miss Okada was hit in the thigh and though the surrounding water was reddened with blood that was oozing out, she never lost consciousness, and ever driven by the thought that no enemy should dare kill her, she applied a tourniquet with a towel as she precariously clung to the side of the capsized boat. The eight hours that ensued as she swam or floated around until she was picked up by a Japanese warship were a nightmarish inferno of anguish and torture.”

Miss Okada was taken to a “certain island” (apparently in the western Visayas) where she was receiving medical treatment when she had once more to flee. “This time the boat she was fleeing on was attacked by enemy submarines. Swimming about in the water she was sure that luck would not desert her. The bodies of many of her dead companions came floating by and bumped against her. As she saw these poor victims, she could not help but renew her determination to live.” By means unrevealed, Miss Okada turned up in Cebu. For a third time she had to flee. And again the vessel on which she was escaping was sunk, this time by planes. But she reached Luzon by lifeboat only to find that fighting there had already begun. For the fourth time Miss Okada fled. She is now in Taiwan and the people in Taiwan must be feeling a little apprehensive.

These two stories should be material for historians of propaganda and students of national psychology. Miss Okada seems to flee right out of Hollywood, via Ferry and the Pirates, Wild West Magazine, and possibly C.W.L. unit Commander Ikeda has more the tragic dignity of the insane.


17th March 1945

Imperial headquarters has announced that the Americans have suffered 25,000 casualties on Yiojima and to those who can read between the lines it is plain that the battle is coming to an end. As a result of this new setback a further effort has been made to solve the question of coordination between the high command and the administration, which has plagued Japan’s war effort since the China affair. Apparently, when Koiso took office he advanced three proposals on the subject. He would attend conferences at imperial headquarters as premier, he would return to active service and thus adjust differences himself, or the issue could be solved “according to an entirely new conception”. This last alternative was the first taken. A supreme council for war guidance was established but, according to the Asahi, it was “merely a sort of conference and so far has gone little beyond the adjustment of differences between the high command and the administration. It was by no means adequate to cope with the present stage of fierce war.” Consequently the first alternative will now be resorted to; Koiso will be allowed to sit in at imperial headquarters conferences; “he will have a voice in matters under discussion in the same way that the chief staff officers have and partake in the supreme guidance of the war.” The measure was taken “at the command of His Majesty the Emperor. The same step,” recalls the Asahi, “was taken at the time of the Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese wars when the Premiers Ito and Katsuura attended the deliberations of imperial headquarters.” It only remains to add that the more realistic Tozyo solved the problem in his own characteristic fashion by combining in himself the powers of prime minister, war minister, munitions minister, and chief of staff. He was overthrown by jealous generals on the charge of dictatorship. Whatever his shortcomings, Tozyo had a better understanding of total war.


9th March 1945

This morning I saw the girls who work in the army offices and hotels on Kudan hill lined up in front of the Yasukuni gates. Across the street from them a group of officers were delivering a lecture, apparently on fire-fighting because there were three or four paper screens set up along the sidewalk and, as I passed by, a soldier was opening a tin cylinder smelling strongly of gasoline. I was tempted to stop and watch but I received so many inquiring glances that I moved on.

The vernaculars carried a photograph of the wife and daughter of the Japanese commander on Yiojima. They were praying in the snow outside the inner shrine of the Yasukuni and the caption said that they had prayed that some of the snow on the streets of Tokyo might find its way to the arid caves of Japan’s newest volcanic battlefield.

But it will take more than prayers to reassure the people. The outspoken Yomiuri lashed out today with an editorial teetering dangerously oh the rim of discontent. “The situation at Yiojima is growing ever more pressing. It is no longer the time to talk of favorable or divine opportunities. Frankly speaking, we have been driven into a corner in spite of the valiant fighting of the men at the front and all our efforts at home. Where should we look for the reason of all this? Certainly it is not merely accidental. It is no longer permissible to use the material resources of the enemy as an excuse. The production capacity of America was known from the outset and it has not shown any surprising increase of late…. All our information and preparation concerning this point must be supposed to have been completed from the time of the imperial, rescript declaring war…” The paper then goes on; “It is being said that even though the enemy may land on these shores, we can surely win if we encounter him with the fierce determination of each one of us killing one enemy soldier… But can we rely safely on that determination alone? That is what the people are sincerely feeling…. We must reflect on the past and present and thoroughly probe the reasons why things have come to this pass. Without finding and eradicating the reasons, we cannot face the enemy landing and turn the divine opportunity into reality.”

Meantime even official circles are beginning to think that the Yomiuri’s unspoken “reason” is that the people are not united behind the war. Yesterday Premier Koiso invited Admiral Seizo Kobayashi, president of the Imperial Rule Assistance Political Association (the government party), and some 300 others engaged in organizing a new political party, to his official residence. Admiral Kobayashi struck his breast penitently and confessed: “The political association heretofore in existence aimed chiefly at the management of the diet and was lacking in its efforts to connect the people directly to war politics. Now is the time for us to give up the old ways and set up a sure-victory no-defeat structure at once. Herein lies the reason for our proposal for the creation of a great political association…. What is badly needed today is that the whole people should become subjects of the imperial land in a thorough-going sense, irrespective of vocations, and offer their lives for the sake of the state. Our forefathers at every national crisis forgot their small differences and worked for their great objectives, overcoming difficulties in a firm blood league. We are confident that when the people understand our objective, they will gladly join this great political association.”

To a people accustomed to reading between the lines, like the Japanese, the implications are ominous, not only in the admiral’s confiteor but also in the Yomiuri’s quo-vadimus. The impression one gathers from it all is that the Japanese, fantastic as it sounds, are indifferent to the war, divided by petty quarrels, bewildered, by the disaster that is overwhelming them; they have lost touch with the government and lost faith; they are content to stand apart from a tragic adventure which they cannot understand and in which they have no hand, absorbed in the intimate problem of the next meal, the next incomprehensible air-raid, while the vast wave of ruin looms darkly over their bent unseeing heads.

Even the generals are no exception. General Kuroda, the former Japanese commander in the Philippines, had dinner with Vargas last night. Flushed with drink, this bibulous garrulous old man, who spent his term in the Philippines on the golf course and in bars, complained bitterly about being relieved by Yamashita. “I know the Filipinos better than Yamashita.” “Yamashita talks too much.” “We were classmates and he was not so bright.”

When Vargas brought out a bottle of pre-war American whiskey, Kuroda chuckled gratefully and then leaned over. “You know,” he giggled, “we two are in the best place after all. You could have been president but they did not want you. I should have been commander-in-chief but they did not want me. Who’s sorry now, eh? Eh?”

When Kuroda staggered home, he was still clutching the bottle.


8th March 1945

On the 8th of every month, which is set aside all over Japan to commemorate the imperial rescript declaring war, Vargas pays his respects at the Yasukuni shrine, where the spirits of Japan’s war-dead are enshrined. Today, after the customary ceremony, he was taken to a new six-foot drum.

“Will His Excellency be so kind as to beat this drum?”

His Excellency did.

“No, No,” the chief priest exhorted. “Harder, beat it harder, hard enough so it can be heard in the Philippines.”

Apparently the drum has not been beaten hard enough. The Asahi complains today that “our crack forces on Luzon and Yiojima are fighting valiantly, causing the enemy much bloodshed, but to our regret the hegemony of the sea and the air is in enemy hands.” And the paper continues: “While our forces have little means of further supplies the enemy is in a position to obtain supplies in rapid succession. Accordingly, in spite of the valiant fighting of our forces, the war situation on both battlefields cannot but be judged unfavorable to us.” The paper then goes on to warn that a landing on the mainland is to be expected.

For its part the government has decided to reopen the diet for a single day on the 11th March “with the intention of explaining present conditions and of clarifying the conviction of the government to cope with the situation.” Another session of the diet will be called on the 15th or 16th “to present various bills.”

As the shadow of invasion and defeat falls deeper on Japan a cold wind of suspicion and hatred for all foreigners rises. The German embassy has found it advisable to warn all its nationals off bombed areas “to avoid disagreeable incidents”. Nor are the East Asians wholly sheltered from this popular reaction. The press speaks openly of the “Bei-Hi-Gun”, the American-Filipino forces now fighting on Luzon. The Philippine Society, in planning its new quarters, has notified the embassy that shelter will be provided for Filipinos “in case of rioting”. But most chilling symptom of all has been the current box-office-hit in Tokyo, a thriller called “Rose of the Sea”. The star portrays a Filipina of mixed Chinese parentage who operates as an American spy in Japan, transmitting military information through a radio set hidden in a Christian church. She reforms in the end, of course, arid realizes “her true Asian destiny” but the implications are ominous. The film could not have been produced without official approval; indeed it is said that it was produced under the auspices of the military police. If it was, then the plot provides a good clue as to the No. 1 police suspects in Japan: Filipinos, Chinese, and Christians. It is a far cry from the 1944 box-office sensation, “Shoot Down That Flag” which portrayed the Filipinos in Bataan and Corregidor as oppressed by race-conscious Americans.

One of our students sneaked into a downtown theater to see “Rose of the Sea” the other day. When the lights went on, his neighbor, a Japanese, turned on him suspiciously and asked sharply: “Are you a Filipino?”

He looked so threatening that the poor boy stammered:

“No, Burmese.”