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.


November 10, 1944

Announcement of Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita’s appointment as Commander-in-Chief of Japanese forces in Philippines has served to bolster Japanese morale recently on the downgrade due to successive U.S. gains in Central and SW Pacific, Leyte landings, inability of Japanese planes to combat U.S. raiders.

Main reason for relief of Lt. Gen. Shigenori Kuroda as Philippine Commander-in-Chief of Jap forces was due to air attack on Luzon by Halsey’s fleet on September 21 which caught Japanese Army completely by surprise.

When extent of damage caused by said raid to military personnel and installations was determined, Tokyo sent Lt. Gen. Takahashi to Philippines to replace Lt. Gen. Kuroda. But the new Commander-in-Chief made a serious political blunder, a few days after holding office. He immediately ordered the dissolution of the Philippine Constabulary due to reported mass “desertions” of P.C. garrisons in various provinces. This order was made without previous consultation with Puppet Jose Laurel, who is making strong efforts to convince himself that he is not a puppet. Puppet Laurel complained to Premier Koiso because he claimed Takahashi’s act was flagrant disregard of Philippine Republic which created Constabulary. This led to appointment of Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita.

Japs attach great importance to Leyte operations. E. Masatomi, Jap editor and columnist of Tribune, privately opined that “if we lose the Philippines, we lose the war”. He expressed strong belief, however, in ability of Jap forces under Yamashita to retrieve lost ground in Leyte and pointed to unceasing Jap attempts to reinforce Leyte garrisons under Lt. Gen. Makino.

During last few weeks, more or less, since naval battle off Philippines, several Jap ships have been able to land troops in Manila. Newly arrived troops looked haggard, weary and hungry. Some were asking for food from passers-by and many were asking if this was Australia. Evidently, Japs are not being told of reverses.

Meanwhile, Japs are rushing troops to probable landing points in coastal towns of Luzon. Trains are exclusively for Army use. Trucks, cars are being commandeered. Even bicycles are being taken on the spot as need arises. Downtown Manila is now filled with Jap soldiers walking around trying to find transportation.

Food situation is getting more acute. Rice is at ₱5,600.00 per sack and a kilo of pork costs ₱250.00. A banana –only available fruit– costs over ₱3.00. It is not an uncommon sight to see lean, hungry, dirty-looking men and children begging for “a little rice or anything” in Manila streets. Some persons search garbage cans for food or scrape the rice that trickles from Jap trucks carrying supply of rice to quartermaster depots.

Former Chinese consul of Iloilo, Cabo Chan is reported forcing rich Chinese in City to contribute sums ranging from ₱20,000.00 to ₱1,000,000.00 for creation of some sort of Chinese Army for the protection of Chinese under the sponsorship of Japanese Army. Those who do not contribute are brought by Japs to Fort Santiago and are kept under lock and key until they give their contribution.

Japs are now unable to ship rice from port of Aparri to Manila due to intensified submarine activity around Philippine waters. They are making preparatory moves towards unifying BIBA with Jap rice control whereby arrangement may be had giving Japs authority to draw from rice supply of Central Provinces.

When friends meet downtown, instead of talking about weather, usual greeting is “when?” and generally the answer is “very soon, maybe before the end of the month”. Most pessimistic view is “After Christmas, maybe!”


November 7, 1944

Saw some of the Jap troops that arrived recently. They looked haggard, unkempt, underfed. Their shoes were made of black cloth and some were dragging their feet. Their uniforms were very dirty and smelly. Many of them were asking the people downtown if they were in Australia. No doubt Japanese people are being duped by their leaders.

Listened to the Voice of Freedom from Leyte yesterday. Heard Brig. Gen. Romulo speaking. I immediately recognized his voice although at times it sounded tired and far away. Then the Philippine National Anthem was played and I felt like crying. The last time I heard the Voice of Freedom was in Mt. Mariveles. I was lying on the ground, shivering with malaria. Brig. Gen. Lim of the 41st and Brig. Gen. de Jesus of the Military Intelligence Service were listening too. It was April 8th, the night the lines broke in the eastern sector. The Voice said: “Bataan has fallen but its spirit will live on forever….” there were other weary-looking, haggard Filipino officers under the tall trees of Mariveles that night gathered around the radio. All of us had tears in our eyes. Gen. Lim wiped his eyes with a dirty handkerchief and Gen. de Jesus turned around because he did not want to show his feelings.

Heard Clift Roberts speaking from Gen. MacArthur’s headquarters to Blue Network last night. He was poking fun at Radio Tokyo. He said that the soldiers in Leyte listened to Radio Manila and Tokyo for fun. Imagine the difference! Here under the Jap rule, we listen at the risk of our lives. One man was shot for listening in on KGEI.

Walter Dunn speaking to CBS described the rehabilitation work now being undertaken in Leyte. He said bananas cost 1 centavo each; now they cost ₱2.20 in Manila; Eggs at 3 centavoa piece in Leyte and here it costs ₱10 each; corned beef, .13 and here ₱25.

Its raining this morning. Maybe there won’t be any raids. I watched the planes yesterday afternoon hitting Murphy and U.P. site in Quezon City. They kept circling and diving over their objectives and there was practically no ground nor air resistance.

I don’t know why but my Jap neighbor came to the house yesterday. He was full of explanations. “We are just drawing them in”, he explained. I did not say a word. He also stated that their Number 1 General is here. General Yamashita, conqueror of Singapore. Gen. Kuroda is now in Baguio, he revealed.

Walked down V. Mapa with Johnnie and Eddie. We didn’t bow before the sentry. He got sore, called Johnnie. Eddie and I remained on the other side of the street. Johnnie bowed before him. “Discretion is the better part of valor,” said Johnnie.

Jap Military Police are now very active, taking people to Ft. Santiago on mere suspicion. One house near Johnnie’s was raided by about fifty M.P.’s with fixed bayonets. They arrested two doctors living there. According to rumors, the two doctors have already been killed.

The Japs have their backs against the wall. They are fighting a losing fight. Their actions are desperate. They’re commandeering all forms of transportation. Any rig they see, they take. They got all horses. They’re taking bicycles too. Filipinos can’t even ride streetcars these days. Its only for Japs. Everything in the market is being taken by them. They are the only ones using cars. Most Filipinos walk. Somebody said “They might take our legs too.” One fellow laughed at the idea. “I’m not wisecracking,” said the first fellow. “If they take our lives, why not legs.”


October 1, 1944

According to authoritative sources, President Laurel has declared a state of war (this phrase was always used instead of “declared war”) under pressure from Japan. Since last year, when he was invited to Tokyo before the establishment of the Republic, this pressure has become increasingly stronger, and when the bombings started, it reached an extent where the President dare not go against it for fear of reprisals from the army. President Laurel insisted that he did nothing more than declare a state of war started by the attackers. Whether or not these premises exempt him from all responsibility would be up to history to decide, assuming that future historians could agree on the present responsibilities. They would first have to tone down the passion of today, so that the critics could judge the actuations of the President and his government impartially.

Reliable sources also revealed that the bombing ten days ago had rattled the Japanese military authorities. They never expected such a plan of attack so well conceived, well executed and so nerve-shattering that it sowed panic among the high military officials. The military leaders are blaming one another for the failure of their defense and the great destruction they have suffered. The sudden turn of events has also aggravated the old enmities existing between the two arms of the Imperial Forces—the army and the navy—which traditionally pulled each other’s hair each claiming credit for the victories of war and throwing the blame for the failures. General Kuroda is the victim of this tug-of-war, and was sent back to Tokyo.

In the meantime, the Imperial Forces are continuously looking for new places to set up their anti-aircraft guns. They are placing them in residential zones, at the same time occupying private houses and mixing among the civilian populace. Of the 300 Spanish families in Manila, more than half have already been ejected from their homes.


October 27, 1943

Our guests were leaving the College, going French style. They took with them all that was theirs and all that was ours. Among the latter were chairs, beds, tables, cabinets, the refrigerator, bulbs, lamp shades, all amounting to thousands of pesos, specially now that they were irreplaceable. We were disillusioned by the belief that independence would extend to us the pleasure of having our whole building back. But other soldiers were coming in with beds on their shoulders and installing themselves in the divested building. They were sure to be groping in the dark tonight, as their predecessors took all the bulbs with them. It seemed that it was common practice among these soldiers to leave nothing behind whenever they transferred quarters. One of them, whom we approached in complaint and protest, justified such conduct saying that when General Kuroda had to leave the palace of the American High Commissioner which was converted into the Japanese Embassy, all the furniture was taken out, and Mr. Murata had to stay at the Manila Hotel until the Embassy had been refurbished.


Friday, July 23, 1943

I didn’t get to bed early enough last night. Monitors meeting that indicated our peculiar position here and indicated that you probably will not be coming up except under violent protest until the middle of next month at the least. The lightless, waterless, toiletless barracks are being desperately protested and it may be that the visit of Lt. Gen. Kuroda was significant. At any rate his reaction is being awaited. We’re getting along. The noon meal yesterday had bad meat in it. My leg is nearly healed but I’m still running to the bath room 4-5 times a day… The uncertainty of things has bad effects—morale and things are sort of drifting. They used the month’s allotment of gas for the truck hauling shrubs and trees for beautification planting so had to keep the bus here to haul 5 sacks of rice from the RR Sta. That sort of thing burns everybody up. Manning is quite discouraged, can’t get anyone to do anything and no one likes what he does—he has charge of labor pool personnel I’d like to help him out but I’m going to pursue my own program.


June 2, 1943

The press reported that the Philippines has a new Commander-in-Chief, General Kuroda. What has happened to his predecessor, General Tanaka, is a mystery for everybody. Rumors say he disappeared a few days ago. Some say that he has been deposed and imprisoned. Others claim that he was killed by the guerillas during one of his visits to Cebu. He has not appeared in public for more than a month. Most probably, he is seriously ill with cancer. He is a kind and understanding man, in spite of his fierce moustache.