Bataan, 1942: views of a father and his son

Victor Buencamino (second from left, second row), with his family in the Pines Hotel, Baguio, 1932. Rightmost on second row is his eldest son, Felipe Buencamino III.
Victor Buencamino (second from left, second row), with his family in the Pines Hotel, Baguio, 1932. Rightmost on second row is his eldest son, Felipe Buencamino III.

 

(Revised, April 8, 2017) The Philippine Diary Project includes the diaries of a father and his son: Victor Buencamino, and Felipe Buencamino III. At the outbreak of the war, Victor Buencamino was head of the National Rice and Corn Corporation, precursor of today’s National Food Authority. His published diary covers the period from the arrival of the Japanese in Manila, and the first half of the Japanese Occupation.His diary provides an in-depth look into the dilemma facing government officials who stuck to their posts despite the withdrawal of the Commonwealth Government and the occupation of the Philippines by the Japanese. At certain points, particularly from January-April, 1942, he gets intermittent news about his son (who was, on the other hand, participating in clandestine military intelligence missions, even in Manila).

Particularly gripping are his entries for April, 1942, when on one hand, he is wrestling with increasing Japanese interference and intimidation –including his being summoned to the dreaded Fort Santiago, where other members of his staff had already been summoned and in at least once instance, tortured– and on the other, frantic for news about his son, particularly after the Fall of Bataan, when on the same day he received condolence messages and news his son was alive. Then, he recounted the grief of parents and his own search of the concentration camps.

As for Victor Buencamino’s son, Lt. Felipe Buencamino III, known to his friends as Philip, was a young journalist who became a junior officer in Bataan, assigned to General Simeon de Jesus headed military intelligence. He kept a diary from the time of the retreat of USAFFE forces from the outskirts of Manila to Bataan, and conditions there as well as in Corregidor, which he periodically visited, looming defeat, the eve of surrender,  and then the Death March and then wrote a kind of diary-memoir of the ordeal of his fellow prisoners in the Capas Concentration Campas well as his classmates. At times, his diary intersects with other diaries, such as the diary of Gen. Basilio J. Valdes, since Philip accompanied the General during one of his visits to the frontlines in Bataan. He resumed his diary, briefly, in September to December, 1944.
Felipe Buencamino III (topmost, leaning on windshield of jeep), photo taken in Bataan, 1942.
Felipe Buencamino III (topmost, leaning on windshield of jeep), photo taken in Bataan, 1942

His Bataan diary prominently features two close friends: the writer and future diplomat Leon Ma. Guerrero (who would later keep a Tokyo diary covering the last months of World War II in Japan and the first months of the Allied Occupation), and Fred Ruiz Castro, future Judge Advocate General of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and who ended his career as Chief Justice of the Philippines.

After the Death March and imprisonment in Camp O’Donnell, Lt. Buencamino would go home and convalesce. His diary resumed in September, 1944, and covers the start of Allied air raids on Manila, and the preparations of Japanese forces for what would be the Battle for Manila.

During Liberation, he became did a stint in the newspaper published by the Allied forces and then joined friends in setting an early post-Liberation paper. He also became a broadcaster.

He left journalism to begin a career in the new Philippine foreign service.

On April 28, 1949, Felipe Buencamino III, together with his mother-in-law, Aurora A. Quezon, sister-in-law, Maria Aurora Quezon, and Ponciano Bernardo (mayor of Quezon City) and others, were killed in an ambush perpetrated by the Hukbalahap

Leon Ma. Guerrero, in writing about Mrs. Quezon and the ambush in which she was killed, in 1951, also wrote about his friend, Philip:

In Bataan I shared the same tent with Philip Buencamino, who was later to marry Nini Quezon. He was the aide of General de Jesus, the chief of military intelligence, to which I had been assigned. I remember distinctly that one of the first things Philip and I ever did was to ride out in the general’s command car along the east coast out of pure curiosity. The enemy’s January offensive was turning the USAFFE flank and all along the highway we met retreating units. Then there was nothing: only the open road, the dry and brittle stubble of the abandoned fields, and in the distance the smoke of a burning town. We turned back hurriedly; we had gone too far. I am afraid we never got any closer to the front lines. Our duties were behind the lines. We were quite close during the entire campaign until I was evacuated to the Corregidor hospital, and I developed a sincere admiration for Philip. He was a passionate nationalist who could not stomach racial discrimination, and I remember him best in a violent quarrel with an American non-commissioned officer whom he considered insolent toward his Filipino superiors.

The late Fr. James Reuter, SJ, wrote about it in 2005:

On April 28, 1949 – 56 years ago, Doña Aurora Aragon Quezon was on her way to Baler. With her eldest daughter, Maria Aurora, whom everyone called “Baby”. And with her son-in-law, Philip Buencamino, who was married to her younger daughter, Zeneida, whom everyone called “Nini”. Nini was at home with their first baby, Felipe IV, whom everyone called “Boom”. And she was pregnant with their second baby “Noni”.

On a rough mountain road, in Bongabong, Nueva Ecija, they were ambushed by gunmen hiding behind the trees on the mountainside. The cars were riddled with bullets. All three of them were killed. Along with several others, among them Mayor Ponciano Bernardo of Quezon City.

Adiong, the Quezon family driver, was spared. Running to the first car, Adiong found Philip lying on the front seat, his side dripping blood. Philip smiled at Adiong and said: “Malakas pa ako. Tingnan mo” — “I am still strong. Look!” And dipping his finger in his own blood, Philip wrote on the backrest of the front seat: “Hope in God”.

When they placed him in another vehicle for Cabanatuan, his bloody hands were fingering his rosary, and his lips were moving in prayer. This was consistent with his whole life. His rosary was always in his pocket. And on his 29th birthday, exactly one month before, on March 28, 1949, at dinner in his father’s home, he said to Raul Manglapus: “Raul, the Blessed Virgin has appeared at Lipa, and has a message for all of us. What are we going to do, to welcome her, and to spread her message?”

He was echoing the thoughts of Doña Aurora, who wanted a national period of prayer to welcome the Virgin and to spread her message of Peace. Years later, the Concerned Women of the Philippines established the Doña Aurora Aragon Quezon Peace Awards, choosing the name in honor of this good, quiet, peaceful woman.

The blood stained rosary was brought to Nini, after Philip’s death. Many years later, she wrote down the thoughts that came to her when they gave her the bloody beads:

“We had joined my mother in Baguio for Holy Week, 1949. As we drove down the zigzag, after attending all the Holy Week services, Phil turned to me and said, ‘Nini, if we were to have an accident now, wouldn’t it be the perfect time for us to go?’ I said to him, ‘You may be ready, Phil, but I still have a child to give life to, so I can’t go just yet.’ And not long after this, his life was taken, and mine was spared.”

Her life was spared, but she felt the agony of those three deaths more intensely than anyone else. In that ambush she lost her husband, her mother, and her only sister. The gunmen riddled their bodies with bullets, on that rough mountain road. But miles away, with her one year old baby in her arms, and another baby in her womb, the gunmen left her with a broken heart. The ones she loved went home to God. But she had to carry on.

Another friend of Philip’s, Teodoro M. Locsin, whose wartime diary is also featured in the Philippine Diary Project, wrote about the murder of his friend, in the Philippines Free Press: see One Must Die, May 7, 1949:

I knew Philip slightly before the war. We were together when the Americans entered Manila in February, 1945. We were given a job by Frederic S. Marquardt, chief of the Office of War Information, Southwest Pacific Area, and formerly associate editor of the Free Press. Afterward, Philip would say that he owed his first postwar job to me: I had introduced him to Marquardt.

Philip and I helped put out the first issues of the Free Philippines. We worked together and wrote our stories while shells were going overhead. Philip was never happier; he was in his element. He was at last a newspaperman. He had done some newspaper work before the war, but this was big time. We were covering a city at war. Afterward, we resigned from the OWI, or were fired. Anyway, we went out together.

Meanwhile, we had, with Jose Diokno, the son of Senator Diokno, put out a new paper, the Philippines Press. Diokno was at the desk and more or less kept the paper from going to pieces as it threatened to do every day. I thundered and shrilled; that is, I wrote the editorials. Philip was the objective reporter, the impartial journalist, who gave the paper many a scoop. That was Philip’s particular pride: to give every man, even the devil, his due. While I jumped on a man, Philip would patiently listen to his side…

…As for Philip, he was eager to work, willing to listen, and devoted to the ideals of his craft. He was always smiling—perhaps because he was quite young. He had no enemy in the world—he thought.

After the paper closed up, Philip went to the Manila Post, which suffered a similar fate. Philip went on the radio, as a news commentator. He had a good radio voice; he spoke clearly, forcefully, well. He married the daughter of the late President Manuel L. Quezon, later joined the foreign service. But he never stopped wanting to be again a newspaperman. He would have dropped his work in the government at any time had there been an opening in the press for him.

Philip never spoke ill of Taruc. He saw the movement, of which Taruc was the head, as something he must cover, if given the assignment, and nothing more. Belonging to the landlord class though he did, he did not rave and rant against the Huks.

He had all the advantages, and he had, within the framework of the existing social order, what is called a great future. He was married to a fine girl and all the newspapermen were his friends. They kidded him; they called him Philip Buencamino the Tired, but they all liked him. He wanted so much to be everybody’s friend. he got along with everyone—including myself and Arsenio H. Lacson.

When he returned from Europe to which he had been sent in the foreign service of the Philippines, he was happy, he said, to be home again, and he still wanted to be a newspaperman. His wife was expecting a second child and life was wonderful. Now he is dead, murdered, shot down in cold blood by Taruc’s men.

He was, in the Communist view and in Communist terminology, a representative of feudal landlordism, a bourgeois reactionary, etc. I remember him as a decent young man who tried to be and was a good newspaperman, who used to walk home with me in the afternoon in the early days of Liberation, munching roasted corn and hating no one at all in the world.

Felipe Buencamino III married Zeneida Quezon. Behind the couple can be seen: Victor Buencamino, the groom’s father; groom’s friends newsman Doroy Valencia and broadcaster Arsenio Lacson; bride’s brother, Manuel L. Quezon Jr., and the groom’s other great friend, Raul Manglapus.

A few days earlier, the other friend mentioned by Locsin —Arsenio H. Lacson on May 3, 1949— had also paid tribute to his friend, Philip:

Until now, I can’t quite get over Philip’s tragic death. He was first of all, a very close friend of mine. I saw him married, and was one of the best men at his wedding. I also saw him buried, and it is not a pleasant thing to remember.

Philip was such a nice, clean boy, friendly, warm-hearted and generous, so full of life, and laughter, that I learned to love him. Of course he had his faults, but you take your friends as they are, not as you want them to be. And Philip, for all his faults, was quite a man. In all the years that we kept close together, I never knew him to deliberately do a mean thing.

Because he was by nature easy-going and amiable, he exasperated me at time by failing to take things more seriously and using his considerable talents to point out the many evils with which our government is cursed. Actually, he was not wholly indifferent to them. He could on occasions become quite angry over certain injustices, but he had no capacity for sustained indignation, and it was not in him, to fret and worry over the distraceful and scandalous way this country is being run. Life to him was one swell adventure, to be lived and savored to the full, with very little time left for crusades. The world cannot be changed or saved in a day.

And because he was Philip, he would gaily twit me about being afflicted with a messianic itch. Relax, he would say. Take it easy. Things are not as bad as they look. In time, everything would be alright. Perhaps, he had the right answer. I wouldn’t know. But I shudder to think what would happen if all of us adopted a carely and carefree attitude and paraphrasing archie, Don Marquis’ cockroach reporter, say:

no trick nor kick of fate
can raise me from a yell,
serene I sit and wait
for the Philippines to go to hell.

The last time I saw Philip was two days before his death. Linking his arm to mine with a gay laugh, he dragged me to Astoria for a cup of coffee. We joined a boisterous group of newsmen who flung good-natured jibes at Philip when he announced that he was quitting the government foreign service to settle down to a life of a country farmer. Somebody brought up the subject of a certain Malacañan reporter who always made it a point to take a malicious crack at Philip and his influential family connections, and Philip agreed the guy was nasty. It was typical of Philip, however, that when I curtly suggested that he punch the offensive reporter on the nose, he smilingly shook his head saying: “How can I? Every time I get sore, the fellow embraces me and tells me with that silly laugh of his ‘Sport lang, Chief.’ I can’t get mad at him.”

That was Philip. He couldn’t get mad at anyone for long. He liked everybody, even those who, regarding him with envious eyes as a darling Child of Fortune, spoke harshly of him. He was essentially a nice, friendly guy. It was not in him to harm anybody, including those who tried to harm him.

And now he is dead, along with that fine and noble lady who was his mother-in-law, and that vivid, great-hearted, spirited girl who was so much like her great and illustrious father, foully murdered by hunted and persecuted men turned into wild, insensate beasts by grave injustices –men who, in laying ambush for Mr. Quirino and other government officials, brutally and mercilessly struck down innocent victims instead.

Philip Buencamino III had so much to live for: a charming, gracious wife who adored him, a chubby little son who will one day grow up into sturdy manhood with only a dim memory of his father, and another child on the way whom Philip now will never see. Handsome and talented, Philip had his whole future before him. His was a life so full of brilliant promise, and it is a great tragedy that it should have ended soon. He had been a top reporter before he entered the foreign service. With his charm and affability, his personal gifts and family prestige, there was no height he could not have scaled as a diplomat. The pity of it, the futile pitiful waste of it! A nice, clean, promising youngster sacrificed to the warring passions of men who have turned Central Luzon into a charnel house.

On a final note, you can listen to Felipe Buencamino III: He was the emcee for the Malacañan Press Corps, in the first radio press conference of President Roxas broadcast from Malacañan Palace in 1947.

First radio press conference of Manuel Roxas. Felipe Buencamino III was the emcee.

July 20th, 1946

Woke up around 4 in the morning, but after moving was able to pick up some more sleep until the guard knocked shortly after six. Still sultry but not so warm, yet uncomfortably sticky specially after sweeping & mopping when begins to ooze out with perspiration all over —— Matches are getting scarce had to take an old one I had saved from Yokohama to breakfast, but had to give it to Laurel who has no matches of any kind lefft & is constantly smoking. I can do without it.

Shaving schedule was broken this morning. Kept me uneasy & undecided whether to go to toilette or not for fear of being called out in middle of operations. Thought the new lieutenant has started another reform in the bathing & shaving roster, but found out upon being finally called that a new guard had simply started with the cell nearest the bathroom without regard to the printed roster — explained it was his first time on morning duty, no change in the schedule. Not so bad not to have first chance at shaving in the morning, but with bath it is a distinct advantage to be on top of schedule as the water is then fresh and clean and unused yet.

Shortly after coming back from shave & while preparing to fix my trunk as I had planned for this morning, Pete came in with a big bunch of letters — was instantly glad When I saw him with the bundle & was more agreeably surprised when he said practically all of these letters are for you! I guess! True enough he kept sorting them down from his bundle to my table—letter after letter, 10 envelopes in all! This is the first time I got so much at one time, & they all came from Manila & was more astounded when in opening the first one which I picked up as coming from Inday it was dated July 10th! Only ten days ago today, the fastest mail to arrive. I do not know how I got the feeling upon reading Inday’s that someone had brought it to Tokyo that it must have been Romulo, because I found among the file a letter from Romulo himself, dated Thursday (July 18th) from “‘The Imperial Hotel'” Tokyo  in which the most significant statement is the closing remark “Looking forward to seeing you in Manila soon, I am as ever, Yours sincerely, Rommy.” Said also he had wanted to see me & the other friends here but he was advised “it were better he did not,” & therefore wrote the note. As a matter of fact in Baby’s letter he says Gen. Romulo had visited the family in Kawilihan and had promised to see me here in Tokyo. Learned for first time also from Baby’s letter Romulo had not visited Kawilihan at all from after liberation until then —afraid? or unfriendly? Maybe both. However his present interest in us is compensation enough —after all perhaps he has realized never having stopped being a Filipino, & patriotic one with a few friends even among the guerrillas. In addition to letters Inday sent a prayer-book with a dedication —Guess will have to learn to pray alright when finally liberated from the “liberator” which judging from Romulo’s note will be “soon” & from Linda’s letter to compadre should be between the 15th and 30th of this month. While walking together after reading Billy’s & Linda’s playfulness in her letter remarked “Eso es tu . . ? then suddenly held himself back as if realizing he was giving himself away and continued, “Esa es Linda.” Before reading the letters I had remarked Bobbie had surprisingly written the most newsy letter & Eddie had written a philosophical one —after reading both & was beginning to read Eddie’s “Pueseso no es filosofia, hombre, es “practical” said Aquino defending Eddie, whose letter also impressed to see Isa can write such a nice letter, & Baby’s is the most mature together with those of Eddie & Dading, although Osias still like Bobbie best. Wonder what have happened to previous letters of Baby & Nene —they both say they have written an 18 page one May 10th giving detailed data on our financial affairs—taxes, books of accounts, property recovery etc.— and Nene said he had written twice before—  none of these have as yet arrived, over two months later. As if by some mysterious law of compensation everybody has written this time —Inday, Baby, Isa, Dading, Bobbie, Eddie, Nene, Teresita, MaryLou, and Joe Varela, Nenita & (illegible). (Toto& Mameng were in Negros) except Nena who has been the most consistent letter writer heretofore because of illness — hope she is well by now, & that is that they got my May 31st letter to Inday — one discouraging news from Bobbie, that the Cadillac has been sold. I guess Inday must have either needed money to keep things going or knowing her strong inclinations towards modesty and humility she must have felt the Cadillac was too ostentatious or perhaps some high official needed a really good car & must have prevailed on her to part with the flashing Cadillac. Still I wish she had not sold it — but I must be patient & content with what is left to us after the trouble devastation that other people— Filipinos— have suffered and endured. If she is painting and rearranging the house as Bobbie reports she must have had to raise money somehow & presume she has had to sell a few of our things. I should soon know, & must now begin to pack my own things here preparatory to any sudden notice of departure, as anticipated by Romulo.

Spent the noon hour after lunch arranging my paper, pasting together these notes, sorting photographs. Was called out about two for library — just returned the book I had taken out:— no new magazines and still plenty in my room unread. While on this job, Steinmetz came about 2:30 & told me to get ready to see a visitor ten minutes to three — must be ready so that there won’t be any delay as soon as the call comes. Not knowing who the visitor might be —thought Perhaps it was either Leoni or Gavino or perhaps (faintly) possibly someone from SCAP — put on my best summer suit — the Palm Beach outer with necktie, breast handkerchief, tie holder, watch & all, including even a pack Of Lucky Strike cigarettes. Sure enough, shortly after three, was called out while talking to Tony, the other guard. Tony was almost as excited as I was as to identity of visitor — said he hoped for the best that it might be good news — said to please keep your fingers crossed. Was the first to be called— then.the Laurels, Aquino & Osias. On the way could not refrain from asking the guard who was bringing me to the office who was the caller — “The Colonel, I guess” the guard answered — he was all covered with sweat, you could almost wring his shirt as in laundering. I thought for a time the Colonel might be Hardy & wondered why, had he at last received notice to let us out? I had mixed feelings of surprise and wonderment which must have been translated to my face. When I entered the interrogation room where there were two officers, I immediately recognized a former friendly visitor, Capt. Gross who introduced me to the Colonel who was none other than Alva I. Carpenter, the head of SCAP’s legal Dept. both in Tokyo & in Manila & who had been reportedly decorated by Osmeña for his work in connection with prosecution of alleged collaborationists! But the Colonel quieted my astonishment soon enough by calmly announcing at the very outset of our conversation that he had not come in connection with our case. He had been assigned to take us to Manila! and would like to find out what he could do to help out in getting our things fixed for the trip. Told him I had left quite a pile of private stuff at the Embassy. when I was taken in by the CIC who later on got my keys to my vault and sent me through Capt. Gross an inventory of my personal effects. This inventory did not mention quite a few important items such as 150,000 cash in old Japanese yen, some private papers and something‘ which is of no Particular value to anybody but which I would like as a souvenir, the medal or decoration & its accompanying citation which the Jap Emperor gave me. He used to distribute quite a few of these to many ’people during the enemy occupation, I said. Also mentioned three sets of Sterling silver tableware not included in the inventory & a whole lot of beverages, food supplies & medicines (mostly) Jap which I suppose the occupants of the house, I presume may have consumed, specially the Johnny Walker, Suntory, gin & other drinks I had left in the vault. Forgot to mention the paintings, the saucers, the bicycles & other odds & ends, I have a list of them anyhow, so it would not be difficult to trace them if given a chance. Carpenter said it seems these things had already been transferred by CIC to the 8th Army but latter has not warehoused them properly yet, so that by Monday they may not be ready to show them. Told them it would take very little time for me to identify my boxes and other things & begged I be given opportunity to do so. Carpenter seemed doubtful whether this was possible but said these things would later be shipped to Manila at any rate, after the Alien Property Custodian would screen the stuff. Should have requested to be allowed to see Embassy bldg. as it is today so as to determine what of my personal effects are still being used there. Will do so when Capt. Gross comes Monday morning to check up on the the things we have here Prison. Told them I had plenty when I asked how much baggage we would be allowed to take along & Carpenter answered 55 lbs. Then I said I would have to pack my extra belongings in my trunk locked for shipment later. They thought that would be the best way out, and any small things that we might have to leave behind, he could always pick up on his next trip, as he goes back & forth between Tokyo & Manila having offices in both places. Carpenter said it wouldn’t do to lock the trunk because of inspection upon shipping & it was agreed. I would make an inventory of contents.  It was likewise agreed I would make make an inventory of the contents. It was likewise agreed I would ask Monday for all my things from Sugamo office so as to pack them properly in preparation for the trip. Asked when we were expected to leave, the Colonel said Tuesday, Tuesday? I inquired. When do we arrive in Manila? Same evening, was the reply. How extraordinary, I remarked “Do you know, Colonel, that Tuesday, happens to be my 27th wedding anniversary?” “is that so?” said the Colonel. “If we get a private plane we may arrive there in the evening of the same day. If not we might leave here Tuesday evening & get to Manila at dawn Wednesday.” Then we talked about other matters —— he asked where I live in Manila — Told him out towards Wack Wack in Mandaluyong. Said he had been there several times — told him also of my having kept a few things in a trunk for Gen. Sutherland —— Asked me where I was when Japs came — Told him I had been left purposely by Pres. Quezon & Gen. MacAr to take care of government in Manila together with Claude Bush for H.C.’s office & Gen. Dick Marshall for USAFFE, but that later had to hurry out of Manila around Dec. 30 as the Japs were already pressing in from both North & South of the city. Told him how I destroyed most of the money left in the Treasury & sent to Corregidor a lot more including the reserves & deposits in private banks for which the Japs kept me almost a half day for questioning when they arrived, As he seemed anxious to have time left for the other four Filipinos. yet, I hastened to withdraw, thinking I would tell the rest of the good news, but when I got back to Blue Area the guards wouldn’t let me talk to Osias, Aquino or Laurel — so talked to the Germans first who were out on exercise. Everybody gathered around me and apparently pleased with our good fortune. Told Stahmer had a few toilette articles I would like to leave behind if somebody could use them — he was specially pleased about the Aqua Velva shaving lotion. I told him I could give him & some Mennen’s talcum powder which might help the prickly heat all over his body. Everybody congratulated me at exercise & the rest of us afterwards, after dinner.

All of us were excited during the rest of the evening. Jr. was worried because he had been interrogated earlier in the afternoon about certain guerrilla reports he made to the Japs which Gen. Capinpin had asked him to do, according to Jr., but Which the general said he did not know anything about. This put Jr. on the spot with the guerrilleros and he was so worried about it during our poker game he would not properly put his mind in his hands & was heaviest loser — Osias lost again — 13 this time. Aquino & I the winners. I drew exceptionally good hands at tonight’s game, drawing fathands of high full-house, at least three times, flush once or twice straight several times during the short period of a little over two hours. After the game, I pasted together all the letters I got today through Romulo & packed the pictures so as to facilitate arrangement of trunk in the following morning. Will pack as much as possible at a time so as not to be rushed at the last minute.


July 19th, 1946

Tolerably good night no mosquitoes, not so warm.

At bath was told by BaMaw that his case is due to come up again. The Sgt. had shown him a revised KP schedule in which his name was included with those of the Germans. Schweitzer on other hand has started his “fireworks” — did not come down for breakfast this morning & when we come back from messhall found all the Space in front of his cell was full of spittles the damn fool had been spitting in the hallway through his llittle door hole —— he completes nine months of imprisonment today & promised to go on strike against everything —— food, work, bath, exercise (?). Later Spahn told me still at bath that whole schedule worked out by us had been changed completely —— They eliminated all officials from the list —— Stahmer, Kolschbach, Hamel & Kahmer among the Germans Den & others from Chime, no change in the Filipino list, the schedule of days having been revised too, added BaMaw & Shimizu. It looks like we are headed for some trouble. Anyway the Filipino group is out of it.

Asked for soap & matches  at bath —— answered there was none. Soap they might get later on in the day, but matches not even the PX has these days. In a pinch will have to use soap & matches sent me from outside.

Before morning exercise finished letter to Pedro Lopez asking him to come & visit us so that we may find out from him what happened to his plan of utilizing us as witnesses at International Military Tribunal trials —— Also what he can do to help expedite our repatriation home. Shortly after lunch, Steinmetz, the guard came in & showed me a note he was carrying arround to the different cells reading as follows (he was patient enough to wait while I copied it).

“July 17 —— Blue —— Inform persons without blood relatives, and who requested visit from others principally on business, that the visits have been approved and passes can be obtained at CI Section, GHQ, Dai Ishi Bldg. (Sgd.) RMH.”. Immediately added a PS to Lopez letter suggesting where he can get pass & if not possible for him to come right away _to please drop note to Leoni & Gavino so that they may be informed of this approval —— as I can’t write to them this week, being Permitted only one letter a week.

Did pretty hard road work during afternoon exercise. Walked a kilo with Aquino, then same sitting up exercise with Osias & Jr., & afterwards run around the yard 18 times, about 1200 m. & walked around 20 times before time in. Was sweating profusely, but felt much lighter, & had rather good appetite at dinner. During the afternoon BaMaw was called to the office. He was very much agitated at dinner, & seemed anxious to say something, but as nobody inquired he kept quiet—didn’t talk during the entire meal.

Started poker shortly after six. To our table came Kopp to say they had brought up some ice water. Filled myself up more than was good, am afraid. Gave Aquino considered as benefit for Jr. as he was in for over one hundred yen already, We made it up to him by letting him win & by Aquino adding his own winning to Jr. making 45 yen altogether. At that Jr. is still indebted 31 to Osias & 39 to me. Lost 20 tonight Osias 27. One guard sat with us practically the whole time but did not play — He still owes us so.


Postscript: August 29, 1945-July 4, 1946

POSTSCRIPT

Possibly the last officially recognized remnants of the Hitler and Mussolini regimes were the Axis diplomats under “technical custody” in the Japanese city of Atami, a seashore holiday resort a little over two hours by rail from Tokyo. There, in a shabby hotel halfway up Peach Hill, overlooking the narrow gray sheds of the railway station and a shaggy stub of peninsula poking into a murky sea, some 27 Germans and 19 Italians awaited repatriation or such other disposition as the Supreme Commander might make. While they were as a whole a good-humored bunch, they had a vaguely pathetic air, slightly unreal, like that of an old political poster on the wall that nobody has bothered to tear down long after the elections are over.

They could be seen strolling down the city’s busy slope to the beach of an afternoon, lean, grave, and rather carefully dressed, thoughfully eyeing the golden oranges in the black net bags, or watching the itinerant fortune-teller’s trained birds as they hopped to the gates of their miniature pagoda, rang a silver bell, and pecked up a tiny scroll. They were inclined to be self-conscious and supercilious, with tight little smiles that were apt to grow tired and fixed. Curious stares followed them for in this country, where a shamed, sullen, superstitious awe of the foreigner had washed back in the wake of defeat, they shared in the renewed prestige of a light complexion. The feline eyes of the Japanese girls ran with an avid restlessness over the coiffures and costumes of the foreign women. Sometimes a forward little boy would trot after the blonde consulate clerks with the familiar wheedle:

“Hello, hello, gum-u?”

The G.I.s who flooded Atami every weekend until, ostensibly as a health measure, all Japanese inns were placed off-limits in the middle of May 1946, fell into the same natural confusion. When they caught sight of the women from Peach Hill, their arms would loosen guiltily on the shoulders of the pudding-faced dancer beside them and they would smile, brightly, shyly, or awkwardly, but always with the identical quality of homesickness and a fugitive hope.

“Hel-lo, beautiful!”

Or “Oh, you babe!”

Or “Excuse me, ma’am, are you American? Do you speak English?”

“Yes I speak English. No, I’m German. I’m Italian.”

Some of the G.I.s would say: “Oh, I see” and move on.

Others were glad enough to keep the conversation going, because their fathers and mothers had come from the old country, or just because they liked talking in English to someone not in uniform. But an awkwardness would have fallen by then. It would not be quite the same, especially since the hotel on Peach Hill was strictly off-limits to all Allied military personnel.

Afterward, when there were no longer any G.I.s in Atami outside of M.P. patrols and the fortunate but bored guests at the enlisted men’s recreation center at the Atami Hotel, a sense of the odd ambiguity of the aimless elegant people on Peach Hill remained among the Japanese. The word went around that they were Germans and Italians, former allies, and, depending on the sympathies of the person concerned, they earned either a latent hostility and contempt or a secret protective affection.

The Axis diplomats did not seem to care much one way or the other. They had reason to be content By virtue of a S.C.A.P. directive and international courtesy, the Japanese government continued to treat them as accredited representatives of their vanished regimes, providing them with quarters (a godsend since Japan was in the gip of an even worse housing shortage than the U.S.), special diplomatic rations (as distinguished from the ordinary foreigner and Japanese rations), and other privileges (such as the withdrawal of 1,500 yen per head of family per month from blocked accounts in yen, instead of the ordinary 100 yen). The Japanese government also paid their hotel bills.

Nobody seemed to be in any particular hurry about liquidating the affair outside of the Japanese government whose anxiety, as the bills continued to mount, could well be understood. But the Army of Occupation had more urgent tasks and had, to all appearances, forgotten its diplomatic charges after an initial flurry of raids, searches, seizures and interrogations. The Atami colony for its part knew when it should be thankful; it wasn’t every German and Italian, in fact there were precious few human beings in the post-war world, that could drift from day to day relieved from the perplexity of the next meal or the landlord’s bill.

This benevolent custody (it was called “protective” at first and later “technical”, a distinction which no one in Atami was quite certain how to interpret) was first imposed shortly after the entrance of the occupation forces in Tokyo. The Aix and Daitoa (Greater East Asia) diplomatic corps had fled the burning capital long before that and had taken refuge in the luxurious Fujiya Hotel in Miyanoshita, Hakone. This tourst hot-spring resort in the national park near Fuji was the evacuation center officially designated for them, the Soviet embassy having been shunted off to the Gora Hotel in the neighboring village of the same name after excited demarches on the lack of heating facilities in northern Karuizawa, where the other neutrals had been billeted.

The war had scarcely touched the Fujiya. Bombers had growled distantly and fleetingly above on their way to Tokyo from the rendezvous at Fuji but one could away from them by putting his head under the pillow. This was more than could be said for the kempei-tai or military police, whom it was rather more difficult to ignore. They had their headquarters in a converted curio store opposite the main hotel entrance and early risers could glimpse them reporting for work every morning, clad in soiled uniforms which they blandly hung up on the walls within sight of the street in order to assume various clumsy disguises. Every noon one of them would across the unpainted coop next to the gate and feed the pigeons. These plump and gentle birds never did carry any messages, as far as anyone could determine, and after the surrender they quickly disappeared, presumably into a kempei-tai kettle.

But the kempei-tai had more pitiable victims. One day a talkative Italian merchant, who mourned the American market a little too bitterly when in his cups, disappeared from the hotel simultaneously with the nice Japanese student who had been convalescing in the next room. Another time an over-diligent German newspaperman failed to show up for his usual chess game and was thereafter permanently absent. Next, a pale gaunt man, leaning heavily on a cane, made his cryptic and somber appearance; no one dared speak to him; he was said to be a Jew released from a kempei-tai prison in Manchuria for reasons that remained obscure.

But these were passing wraiths that everyone tried to forget and the kempei, outside of periodical loutish visitation and interviews, respected the traditional diplomatic immunities, injecting only occasional spurts of panic with the piecemeal disintegration of the Axis. As each satellite government fell, its nationals were forbidden to communicate with the other guests, an arrangement that reached its climax with the surrender of Germany when boundary lines were drawn with a truly European hysteria, the Bulgars glowering at the Finns who scowled at the Italians who nervously and reproachfully avoided the Germans. The pious Hungarian blonde married to a French count was finally compelled to talk to the Parisian divorcee who was not married to the French officer she was living with. However these were minor inconveniences.

It was really not until two U.S. Army photographers in a jeep drove up shortly after the Japanese capitulation that the diplomats at the Fujiya had their first startled look at war and defeat. Newspapermen followed the photographers (who turned out to be undercover men for the Counter-Intelligence Corps) and then various officers and men who seemed to be bent on nothing more startling than a steaming hot sulphur bath and dinner served on a white table-cloth by a pretty waitress. Things had almost settled down to a polite routine when a visiting G.I. gathered the impression one evening that the German diplomats at the next table were snickering at him and promptly started a fist fight.

The next morning the chiefs of all the diplomatic missions lodged at the Fujiya were summoned by a courtly and very correct gray-haired officer who introduced himself to them as Colonel Robert Loughlin, Judge Advocate Service, Eighth Army. The tall old colonel may have found the company that gathered promptly in his richly appointed Chrysanthemum suite in the Flower Palace, exhilaratingly odd. Certainly it would have been of interest to the curious and conscientious historian for nowhere else had the United States Army confronted simultaneously such a comprehensive roster of the Axis and its satellites.

The immaculate and wary German ambassador, Doktor Stahmer, showed his yellow teeth in an uncertain smile. The only other ambassador present, the Manchu Wang, equally tall in his green civilian uniform, stared vacantly; he knew no English. His eyes were troubled and far-away; perhaps he was thinking how he might have got away if the ferry to Korea had not had its stern blown out of the water while still within sight of Shimonoseki. The Chinese chargé, also Wang (a coincidence that tended to confuse the colonel) thrust forward a thin, delicately featured ivory face, pale with dread. The Italian chargé, Colonel Principini, grinned fixedly in exactly the same faintly horrible way he had grinned at the Japanese for the past two years. A twisted deep-purple smile played on the dark square face of the Thai counsellor while the Burmese captain representing the military attaché, sat stolidly, his small piggish eyes cold and watchful.

Whatever the colonel’s reflections were in the face of his mixed company, he did not voice them. Instead he briskly imparted the information that for their own protection the diplomats at the Fujiya would please consider themselves in the charge of the United States Army. The measure had been in contemplation for some time, the colonel explained, and it was in fact the reason he was at the Fujiya at all, but the recent disagreeable incident had forced him to act ahead of schedule. The hotel would be put off-limits for unauthorized military personnel; guards would be posted at the gates; and there would be the inconvenience of securing formal permission before the guests could leave the premises; but otherwise no other restrictions on personal movements was being imposed for the present.

The diplomats appeared to be relieved more than anything else. They had expected more drastic measures; there had been rumors and fears of a concentration camp, at the very least of an internment. No doubt of it, the Americans, after all, were gentlemen.

But almost immediately one of those stubborn conflicts of jurisdiction so common to the military broke out between the Counter-Intelligence Corps, whose agents had quietly started to corner and question the diplomats, and what might be called the Guard, whose commander was determined to respect diplomatic immunities. The progress of the hostilities can be gauged briefly and accurately from the successive ranks of commanders of the guard. The punctilious old colonel, who took his international courtesy so seriously that he personally accompanied the Burmese military attaché to Tokyo and stormed into the office of the C.I.C. to demand the withdrawal of an order of arrest, was quickly replaced by a soft-spoken but still firm major, who was in turn relieved by an indifferent captain, who gave way to a succession of good-natured second lieutenants, who eventually disappeared entirely from the scene and left the C.I.C. in complete control.

The Axis diplomats had ample reason to regret this outcome of the dispute. There was never, of course, any question of secret and confidential documents being seized; there was more than sufficient time to destroy them. But the C.I.C. did not take kindly to diplomatic niceties and placed its charge under a permit system which was succinctly described by an outraged embassy secretary. “I fell,” he said, “like raising my hand everytime I go to the washroom.”

Things were certainly more pleasant in the pre-C.I.C. era. In what, to borrow the terminology of Japanese history, might be called the Fujiya Period, the colonel and the major granted request for permits to travel, as from one gentleman to another, no questions asked. In October 1945 the Fuiya was taken over as an officers’ recreation center and the Axis diplomats were hustled over to the fomer Soviet quarters at the Gora Hotel, 10 minutes by train up the mountain. In this the Gora Period, after a perplexing interval when no permits at all were required, the captain and his successors the second lieutenants gradually surrendered their pass-issuing prerogatives to the C.I.C., which required written applications and granted them only in dire emergencies. In mid-April 1946 the Gora Hotel in turn was designated as a recreation center for enlisted men and the Atami Period was inaugurated during which the diplomats were entirely isolated and compelled to submit their applications on specific days twice a week when a C.I.C. agent from another city called to pass upon them.

This permit system, perhaps by design, impressed upon the Axis remnants, as nothing else could have done, the fact of their defeat. While avoiding outright bars and barbed wire, it contrived to place them in the exasperating and humiliating position of convent-school girls waiting on Mother Superior in a dither for a Sunday afternoon out. Since the inmates of Peach Hill had considerably more complex and urgent needs to satisfy than the ordinary boarding-school adolescent, the system led to rather more dissatisfaction and brooding than would at first sigh seem warranted.

Actually the C.I.C. was more considerate than the Axis would have been had the roles been reversed. In the Fujiya Period the diplomats were allowed to move freely only within the hotel grounds; in the Gora Period the zone was extended to include the Catholic chapel, two doctors, the park, and the village tram station, a pleasant if monotonous 10-minute walk; in Atami, the liveliest section of the city was open, including the central shopping district, several restaurants, one movie theater, a doctor and two dentists, and a strip of beach. The New Atami Dance-Hall was a few tantalizing steps off limits but the red-light district was well outside. A more intolerant vindictiveness might have been expected considering the fact that the C.I.C. lieutenant who fixed the boundaries was naturalized American Jew whose family in Germany had either been killed or driven into exile by the Nazis.

This balding paunchy young man with the diamond ring was replaced by a taciturn and wealthy New York painter but was some time before the German diplomats could consider his memory with equanimity. Their favorite joke about him was that he surely deserved a decoration from the fuehrer; he had made more Nazis among the local Germans than Goebbels. The Italians had slightly more reason for resentment against him. A frantic Neapolitan, despairing of ever securing a permit to go to Tokyo, screamed her way into his office one day, brandishing a tooth and demanding to see her dentist (there were none in Gora). The tooth was not examined too closely, which perhaps was just as well, and the permit was granted. There was talk afterward of passing the tooth around but it never did materialize. A more serious incident occured when a six year-old Italian boy caught a bad cold and his parents were refused permission to buy medicines in Tokyo; the cough developed into double pneumonia and a minor scandal ensued which prompted an investigation from the head office in Yokohama.

Basically, however, the diplomats’ impatience with the restrictions placed on their movements was of a puzzled and envious character. No one, not even the local C.I.C. agents themselves, seemed to understand why similar restrictions had never been placed on those Axis diplomats who did not happen to be at the Fujiya when the self-conscious G.I. opened his personal D-Day. By virtue of what appeared to be a purely arbitrary distinction, these diplomats in Tokyo, Hakone, or Karuizawa, enjoyed liberty of action with the spacious limits of the prefecture in which they were residing. The situation weighed upon the minds of the people on Peach Hill in their hours of discontent although the other considered them lucky devils, and even tried to join them, because they didn’t have to worry about bills. It was in a way a parable on the modern dilemma of liberty and security or on the older problem of human envy.

Possibly the envy hypothesis was the more valid; certainly it reduced the Axis orphans in Japan to the childish indignities of a shrill “You too!” and “He did it!” A considerable amount of intrigue was to expected among diplomatic gentry but the panic of self-preservation stimulated more sleeve-clutching behind-cupped-hands slander than an oil concession.

The Italians, who normally would have been satisfied to blame it all on the Germans, had their lives complicated by Mussolini’s “Italian Socialist Republic”. The Japanese kempei-tai did not stand much on ceremony and, upon Badoglio’s surrender, they packed off the Italian diplomats into an internment camp without giving them much of a choice or consulting any other rules of protocol but their secret dossiers. The only exception made was for the press attaché who was known to a personal friend of the fallen dictator. However, upon Mussolini’s resurrection, the Italian embassy was reestablished in Tokyo in the charge of the former military attaché in Nanking. The minor embassy employees and other Italian nationals in Japan were thereupon required by the Japanese to swear allegiance to the new regime at a ceremony in a Tokyo Catholic church, embellished with the appropriate Latin touches of melodrama.

The line thus drawn may have remained reasonably clear and undisputed even after Japan’s surrender had not the Badoglio diplomats, upon their liberation from internment, embarked upon an all-out vendetta. They hounded the erstwhile fascists out of their precarious jobs with the new military government, protested loudly when American officers took fascist girls out dancing to the same hotel where they were guests, and, having failed in persuading the Americans to throw the fascists into a concentration camp, reeled off long telegrams of denunciation to the government at Rome. This seemed somewhat presumptuous to their victims since, if fascism were the issue, the former embassy members had been fascists too and in fact the former ambassador, Indelli, had signed the tri-partite pacts in Tokyo. The squabble reached its clamactic end when Rome announced that it was paying for the repatriation of all Italian diplomats, whether pre- or post-Badoglio. The Badoglio group swallowed this rebuff quite literally. They omitted notifying the rival group until 24 hours before sailing time by which time it was too late to do anything but shake a fine Italian fist and put the evil eye on the successful conspirators (as a matter of fact, some them had their baggage dropped by a crane into the sea when trans-shipping at Panama).

Intrigue among the Germans was more tortured, more savage. It was imbued with that ponderous and deliberate frenzy, that implacable extremism, that is so unmistakably Teutonic. Where the Italians resembled two vain and petulant children quarreling about who first took the jampot down from the shelf and ate most of the jam, the Germans were nothing less than a couple of harridans snarling at each other over a scrap of bone they had dug out of the garbage-can. Where the Italians brought to mind the malicious gossip of a seminary for young ladies about what darling Mary was seen doing in the conservatory, the Germans were seized by the same degrading and terrifying cunning that impels the criminal to turn state’s evidence and pile all the blame on his accomplices.

The issue among the Germans was simply who was or was not a “real Nazi”. Not one of the 3,000-odd Germans in Japan seems to have been a “real Nazi”, outside of a few hopelessly compromised leiters and even these tried to argue that their positions were non-political and their main duty, the protection of the community. Since it is manifestly impossible to follow the tortuous course of each and every one of these allegations, it might be more convenient to concentrate on the higher embassy circles. Here the conflict was shaped early during the war, a handy starting point being the curious Sorge case.

Sorge was a German newspaperman, a surly and unkempt fellow from some accounts, who succeeded in some unexplained fashion in insinuating himself into the good graces of Ott, the German ambassador in Tokyo at the time. He won Ott’s confidence to such an extent that was gradually given access to secret files. When the Japanese discovered that Sorge was the head of Soviet spy ring, they asked for the relief of Ott who was sent in disgrace to Peking to sit out the war. Ott’s place was taken by Dr. Stahmer, then German ambassador in Nanking, who had previously been in Tokyo as Ribbentrop’s personal representative in the negotiations for the tri-partite pact. However Ott had left behind a latent source of opposition in a group of loyal subordinates and, upon the collapse of Germany, they came out into the open with a communication to the Japanese Foreign Office repudiating the leadership of Dr. Stahmer.

Not even the CIC, apparently, was able to weigh with any degree of assurance the relative merits or demerits of Stahmer, who negotiated the tri-partite pact, and Ott, who signed it in Tokyo. Stahmer, kept under room arrest throughout the Gora Period, was subsequently confined in Sugamo Prison but the opposing faction did not feel quite at their ease, Ott having been taken from Peking to Tokyo in the meantime. In fact if anyone gained any prestige from the shoddy business, it was the Stahmers. Dr. Stahmer himself contrived to maintain a steadfast dignity, standing stolidly on the rather shaky proposition that the tri-artite pact was designed to keep America out of the war and was thus defensive rather than aggressive, a contribution to world peace rather than to global war. Mrs. Stahmer, a handsome aristocrat inclined to worry about her husband doing his own laundry and her two soldier sons of whom she had no news, expressed, like her husband, a well-bred distaste for trading calumny for slander. She appeared to have more faith in the efficacy of her frequent protestations of friendship with such elegant figured as the Dukes of Windsor and Coburg.

The other Germans were rather less discreet and the agents of the CIC found most of their work done for them by a veritable Gestapo of informers. When two Germans were caught off-limits without a permit, they hastily pointed out that there was a third German a little further up the road who might just as well be taken in too; this third German, it might be noted, fully avenged himself by drinking down all the sake the party had gone out to obtain. When a DNB correspondent, in a belated access of prudence, decided to cache a file of his wartime cables to Berlin, someone saw to it that the C.I.C. knew exactly how to get to the tiny cave behind the hillside waterfall. The correspondent in turn, in the grip of an obscure impulse, sought consolation in charging a colleague with complicity.

With such eager volunteer assistants, the C.I.C. was able to hack away at the last remnants of the Axis with a minimum of overt measures. There were so few of these in fact that the outside observer might have found reason to fancy an unforgiveable lassitude or complaisance on the part of the C.I.C. One exasperated contributor to Stars and Stripes charged that the Axis diplomats were living in a fairy-land, a “veritable Shangri-la”.

It was not quite so pleasant. One day the Germans awoke at the Gora Hotel to find sentries posted at the doors of their rooms. A search was made of their persons and baggage, Army nurses having come up the night before the raid to take care of the women, who even had to comb out their pompadours. All cash and gold bars (into which many Germans had converted their cash through the former embassy courier to Shanghai) were taken away. Most of this was later returned except for such amounts as there was reason to believe belonged either to official embassy or Nazi party funds. But a shiver of apprehension ran through the hotel thereafte whenever a WAC or nurse showed up in the dining-room.

Subsequently the Germans the were ordered to submit sworn statements of their assets. Their bank accounts were blocked and frozen and they were forbidden to dispose of any personal property of any sort. However since, as far as the diplomats were concerned, their living expenses were borne by the Japanese government, this did not entail any excessive discomfort.

Sometime after the baggage search the Germans were also ordered to turn in all their tinned food (mostly Australian pork sausage, corned beef, marmalade, and evaporated milk, taken from prize ships captured by German raiders in the Pacific, as well as Japanese tuna, salmon, and sardines, originally canned for export to Germany and later purchased by the German embassy for distribution among its nationals in Japan). These too were later returned without explanation and the affair would have passed off without incident except for a naive German newspaperman called Bacher, the same one who had disappeared into a kempei prison during the last months of the war. Possibly because this experience had impressed on him a scrupulous devotion to literal exactitudes, he left impelled to ask the guard in charge of the collection for guidance.

“Does this order include American canned goods?” he inquired.

“Sure it does. What do you have?”

The conscientious Bacher thereupon brought out an armful of K-rations.

Since trading in G.I. supplies was then being rigorously suppressed, Bacher found himself being asked a number of embarrassing questions. How had he secured these supplies? From an American. Aga, and who was the American? Bacher, by now thoroughly terrified and seeinf visions of another term in a dungeon, blurted out the name of a C.I.C. agent who had until lately been assigned to Gora but who had recently left for home with one of Mrs. Bacher’s kimono.

The revelation was more embarrassing to the C.I.C. than to Bacher but he had no way of knowing it and he imagined the worst when was sternly bundled off to MP headquarters at Hiratsuka. The episode ended rather agreeably for Bacher but not before he had suffered agonies of apprehension. The MP commander turned out to be an understanding fellow who told Bacher to forget it, gave him a G.I. dinner and a spring mattress, and had him escorte the next morning to the railway station, when an impressed station-master cleared a whole compartment for him. He had not gone many stations when a couple of air-corps officers, just back from a profitable run from Manila, came in.

“Chum,” they asked him after some reflection, “would you care to buy some K-rations?”

Bacher nearly fainted. He couldn’t get out of the train fast enough.

Other C.I.C. interventions however were more conclusive, if slightly distorted by the press. For a considerable time during the Gora Period, the Thai ambassador, the German ambassador, the German military attaché ( a sturdy scar-faced general called Kretschmer), and other German embassy members were under room arrest. This confinement was lifted when Dr. Stahmer was taken to Sugamo, an affair which was widely publicized as a “sensational raid” but which was actually a question of the arresting officer stepping out of his room, down one floor, to the ambassador’s. The breathless excitability of the press relations officer concerned betrayed itself again when the C.I.C. impounded the funds of the German community association, which had been extending relief to hundreds of indigent German hausfrauen evacuated from the East Indies. These fund, amounting to 50,000 yen and used mainly to purchase food and pay rent, were inflated in the press to a thumping 50,000,000 yen, described as a secret fund of sinister implications. It was publicity such as this which gave the Germans reason to quip that the C.I.C. was really looking for Hitler in Japan.

Such widely spaced shocks and surprises scarcely distracted the Axis diplomats from their main preoccupations, intrigue, food, and repatriation. Food attained the proportions of an obsession among them. While they were provided far more than the average Japanese or foreigner in Japan, and in addition received special Foreign Office rations of sugar, butter, cigarettes, and whiskey, the gastronomic habits acquired and indulged during a long career of diplomatic cocktail-parties and state dinners rendered them proportionately more fastidious and exacting. Neither the wartime fare at Fujiya (fish and noodles) nor the food-crisis fare at the Gora (noodles and fish) was calculated to satisfy these long-thwarted appetites. As a consequence, much of the cash the diplomats were allowed to withdraw monthly from frozen accounts was spent on eggs, black-market steaks, cheese, fruits, coffee, and sweet preserves.

A haunting aura of broiling meat hung over the Gora Hotel during their stay there, and the enlisted men now billeted in yhe matted Japanese rooms may perhaps still catch a lingering whiff or two of fried eggs. Even in Atami, where a more competent or more honest cook slung out a respectable meal, the denizens of Peach Hill might still be glimpsed haggling over a fresh lobster or bartering their Foreign Office Hikari cigarettes for box of dusty strawberries.

Curiously enough the Germans, who possessed whole cases of tinned goods distributed by their embassy during the war with typical efficiency and thoroughness, were also the center of the greatest number of disputes about food. The Italians were usually content with emotional displays that were scarcely filling. One excitable Italian dashed his plate of noodles at the feet of the Gora Hotel manager; another periodically sobbed when confronted with dried herring; a third brooded on a calculation of the daily number of calories served. He refused to stir from the armchair in the lobby to which he retreated after reading that he was consuming just enough calories for someone who did not move around too much. “Do you know,” he confided, “if you walk 100 meters on the number of calories we are given, the body will begin to live upon itself, to consume itself!”

The Germans were more ruthless. They approached the question of food with the true furor teutonicus. Two close friends stopped talking to one another and formally returned the gifts they had exchange through five years because they disagreed on the partition of a pound of butter. Another German, caught secreting a community barrel of lard and marking it with his name and destination “Hamburg”, squatted upon it in a dull stubborn rage and refused to allow its distribution until he was hauled off bodily. The violence of his feelings was due perhaps to the fact that he was under the influence, not only of the obsession with food, but also of the equally deep-rooted anxiety about repatriation.

The problem of repatriation haunted every inmate of the hotel on Peach Hill, once misnamed the Inn of Ten Thousand Tranquilities and after the surrender renamed more pointedly the Tourist Hotel. Periodically the community was shaken by rumors: dates for the departure, now imminent, now distant, were set by grapevine. Most of the time these rumors died out when they were proved false or when their place was taken by fresh conjectures and canards. Sometimes they had disagreeable consequences as when the Germans, in a panic at the report that they would be shipped off the next day with two suitcases per person, proceeded to dump all their tinned goods on a sagging market; there were black inquiring looks directed afterwards at those who seemed to be eating more than usual. The Italians became just as agitated by rumors that an ancient gunboat by the name of Eritrea was coming to take them all away, or to take only the fascists for trial, or only the seamen, or only certain personages on a secret list; they would proceed via the Panama canal, or the Suez; that they would sleep in cabins, or sleep on the deck; that they would have to pay for the passage, or that the Italian government had advanced it; that their silks and silver would be confiscated; that their dollars would be taken away; that they would be given $250 apiece.

There were constant reminders of this inevitable homecoming. The community had already contracted gently since the Fujiya Period. The Manchus and the Chinese were early taken to China via Sugamo; the Thai ambassador was flown home although the saturnine counselor remained at the Fujiya with full recognition from the Army of Occupation; the Burmese were nervously escorted to a ship by the British, desperately anxious not to antagonize the powerful party of the revolution. Dr. Stahmer had almost been flown back to Germany. The order was not countermanded until he had actually been taken to the airport. In Atami only Colonel Principini remained of the varied company that had first met the United States Army in the Chrysanthemum Suite of the Fujiya. With him there were only actually a handful of diplomats and their families; the others were consular officials or clerks not too anxious to call attention to themselves. They spent their time packing and repacking, nailing up huge cases of food, books, the curios accumulated during an extended tour in East Asia. The pessimistic scattered their essential belongings among different suitcases that if all except one were stolen, some sort of complete outfit would still remain. They were mostly Germans who had grown the hard cunning of the exile and refugee, like a callous shell on their bruised vanities.

The national differences of character between the erstwhile Axis partners was revealed by their attitude toward repatriation as much s by the quality of their intrigues. The Italians took a simple peasant pleasure in the though of going home. If they worried at all, they worried about small immediacies, such as the price of a pair of shoes, the duty on coffee, the damage to the old olive grove. The Italians in Atami were there because they remained loyal to Mussolini and served in his “Social Republic”. But even these, who might be called the last of the fascists, did not seem to mourn fascism or, what is more to the point, to feel guilty about it. Fascism to them was just a political party, a big company union. Italy itself, one suspects, not so important to them as Naples or Vittorio Veneteo or wherever it was they had a vineyard or a square stone house overlooking the bay. They wanted to go home because they were frightened, because life abroad had suddenly grown harsh and uncertain, but one felt that once they had ensconced themselves in their familiar corners, they would be content to survive if nothing else survived.

The Germans made a complete contrast. They were afraid to go home; they did not want to; they expected to because they had to but almost all intended to get out as soon as they could. More than the Italians, they were disheartened at the announcement thatonly those Axis nationals who had resided permanently in Japan before 1 January 1939 could expect to remain and, if they were former diplomatic officials, only in case they could prove they would make some contribution to Japanese social welfare. It was not only that many of these Germans lived in what is now Poland or Soviet Russia or the Soviet zone; fundamentally it was because they felt that Germany was gone and they had nowhere to go home to. Some talked bitterly of retiring to a remote farm where they would have nothing more to do with national ideals and racial destinies. But the very nature of their escape showed how futile it would be. A German without a Weltanschaung is a vacuum that will sooner or later attract a creed or collapse. He craves a loftier significance for life than mere personal survival or parochial calm. He requires a philosophy and a leader for which he can immolate himself. Naziism was such a philosophy and Hitler such a leader; he enfolded and consumed the very heart of the German and drove a whole frenzied people to the extremities of savagery and heroism. The utter annihilation of all this system left the individual German in Atami with an inner emptiness that crumbled under the renewed pressures of existence. He wanted desperately to stay a little longer in the rarefied atmosphere of Peach Hill.

Strangely enough both Germans and Italians were agreed on despising the Japanese, the Italians out of the usual racial vanity the Germans because of that and something more, possibly an obscure resentment that they fought ruinously to the very last gutter and cellar while the Japanese, for all their kamikaze, made a better deal with a meek surrender. Defeat has a way of exaggerating and distoring values but among the poor remnants of the Axis left over in Atami are found valid hints of the basic weakness of that once-monstrous alliance. The Italians were afraid of the Germans with an odd mixture of incomprehension and respect; the Germans frankly despised the Italians as opportunists and cowards; both were equally baffled and repelled by the Japanese who, in turn, after the surrender, affected toward them a virtuous indignation and horror.

The whole complicated snarl seems a little clearer when one considers the case of the Italian interpreter whom the Germans avoided because they suspected him of being a Japanese spy. It seems to sum up thing neatly.

The gossip from Nara is that the exiles there are getting on each other’s nerves. I suppose it is only natural; these proud, sensitive men, accustomed to adulation and power, now find themselves isolated, disgraced, under the perpetual strain of physical danger and mutual recrimination. And yet is is tragic to find them reduced to quarreling about their few shreds of precedence and dignity. The President is offended because the Speaker does not rise to his feet when he enters the hotel dining-room; the Speaker refuses to rise because, he explains to a curious Japanese, the President after all owed his election to him, the Speaker. The [manuscript ends here]

 


28th August 1945

Overhead the planes were roaring past, flight after flight, so low that the identification letters and numbers on the stately bombers could be read with the naked eye, so low that the swift black fighters almost grazed the trees in the park. Outside the city, on Atsugi airfield, the air trains were dumping their first Americans on Japan. But here in the heart of Tokyo, in the sunlit dining-room of the Imperial Hotel, one could only hear the planes. The guests chatted softly of little things. The steward in his black coat checked his ration tickets. Waitresses in wartime slack-suits walked by swiftly, balancing the graceful jugs of Japanese rice-wine on their pink hands.

I was having lunch with the editor of the Times and we were at the fish course when the door at the end of the room was opened and four Americans in green cover-alls, streaked black with sweat and the dust of the road, entered slowly. It was suddenly quiet. A fork clattered on a plate. These were the first Americans in Tokyo. What would they do?

One of them turned and stared at me. Hesitantly at first, and then with rapid decision, he advanced toward our table, hand outstretched. I uncertainly. Then: “Dave!” By some freak coincidence it was an old friend from Manila, David T. Bugoslav, formerly editor of the Tribune, now correspondent for the Chicago Sun.

As everyone stared he explained rapidly that he and three other American correspondents had slipped through the cordon around Atsugi; they wanted to be the first into Tokyo. Could they have lunch?

The steward, his hands trembling a little, bowed gravely. Did the gentlemen have ration tickets? No? He shook his head reprovingly and took them to a table. He would have to ask the manager.

Abruptly Dave laughed. “Tell them,” he said, “Who won the war.” The steward bowed again. “The gentlemen will be served.”


16th August 1945

The first impression of calm is wearing off. Underneath all this outward placidity Tokyo is seething with rumour, plot, and counter-plot. It appears new that the average Japanese is saying nothing, not only because he is dazed, knocked silly by a blow on the head, carried through the routine of every-day wartime life by that curious momentum that animates a chicken with its head cut off, but also because he is afraid; he does not know what is the correct thing to do or say because he has not yet been told; he hesitates to rejoice openly, for instance, because the war may suddenly start all over again and he will look foolish, unpatriotic, marked for suspicion.

The emperor’s rescript is being challenged by some sections of the army and navy; the old cry is being raised that the emperor was “misled” by corrupt and cowardly advisers. Navy planes dropped handbills yesterday over Tokyo, saying that the fight would go on. The special attack corps is said to have refused to surrender; they are standing by their planes; they long ago made up their minds to die and they will not be cheated of their glory. The rumour persists that the tokotai took off against orders and attacked Okinawa after the rescript had been promulgated.

The cabinet resignd yesterday afternoon, imediately after Suzuki had gone off the air. The war minister General Korechika Anami killed himself at his official residence the night before the rescript was radiocast “to express his sincere regret to His Majesty the Emperor for not having been able to fulfill his duties in assisting His Majesty.” Tozyo and Araki are also said to have committed suicide in protest against the surrender. other Japanese are reportedly killing themselves before the Imperial Palace. Already the miltary police has taken over Tokyo.

Meantime the sequence of events leading immediately up to the surrender has been made public. On the 9th a supreme war council was held in the imperial palace from 10:30 a.m. till 1:30 p.m. and from 2:30 p.m. till 5:30 p.m. This was followed by an extraordinary cabinet meeting at the official residence of the prime minister from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. As a result of these meetings a conference “in the imperial presence” was held in the palace from 11:55 p.m.
till 3 a.m. on the following day. The conference was attended by the emperor, the prime minister, the president of the privy council, the war minister and chief of the army general staff, the navy minister and chief of the navy general staff, and the foreign minister. At this council the decision was reached to accept the Potsdam ultimatum.

Another extraordinary cabinet meeting was thereupon called at the premier’s official residence from 3:10 a.m. till 4 a.m. of the 10th. A conference of senior statesmen (former premiers) was opened at 1 p.m. an then at 2 p.m. the cabinet deliberated on the manner of making the decision known to the people.

On the 11th at 7 a.m. notification of the acceptance of the Potsdam terms was sent through the Swiss government. The war minister then issued his proclamation that “for the maintenance of the divine state” the army would “definitely and resolutely fight”. The president of the board of information in turn issued the preparatory  statement: “The worst condition has now come.” Both these official announcements hewed close to the line of the condition attached to surrender, namely, the maintenance of the imperial institution, “the national polity”.

On the 12th Suzuki appeared at the imperial palace at 2:08 p.m., carrying the American reply. He stayed till 2:44 p.m. He then called an extraordinary cabinet meeting at 3 p.m. and discussed the new terms with the ministers till 5:30 p.m. Simultaneously a conference of the imperial princes was taking place at the palace.

At 8 a.m. on the 13th the formal text of the Allied reply was received and the supreme war council met to consider it from 8:50 a.m. till 3 p.m. The fundamental question of “safeguarding the basic character of the empire” was discussed. During a recess in the morning the chiefs of the army and navy general staffs had also reported to the imperial palace. Apparently the American demand that the emperor be subject to the authority of the Allied Supreme Commander and that the freely expressed will of the Japanese people would determine the future form of government sharply divided the leaders. A cabinet meeting was called from 4 p.m. till 7 p.m but no “complete agreement” was reached.

On the 14th Suzuki proceeded to the palace twice and was told “the imperial wish” to call a conference in the presence of the emperor. At 10 a.m. the field marshals and fleet admirals of the empire met at the imperial palace. At 10:45 a.m. they gave way to the full cabinet, the military and naval command, and the president  of the privy council. It was at this “unprecedented” conference, held in the presence of the emperor who was attended by his chief aide-de-camp, that the final decision was taken. The Times account reads:

“When all these officers took their seats the conference began. Opinions were expressed by them as to the decision on the final attitude of Japan toward the reply sent by the allied nations. It is said with awe and trepidation that His Imperial Majesty calmly listened to the opinions expressed by his officers out of their truest sincerity of loyalty and mind to save the empire. It is reported that His Imperial Majesty was gracious enough to say the following at the conference:

“‘As a result of carefully pondering over the general trends of the world as well as Japan’s situation, We should like to carry on the policy that has been already fixed, by enduring the unendurable and suffering what is insufferable, to atone Ourselves before the hallowed spirits of our Imperial Ancestors and to save the millions of Our subjects. You may have opinions of your own but the answer of the Allied Nations, We believe, recognizes the sovereignty of the Emperor and all of you should understand this as We believe. Whatever may happen to Us, We cannot hear to see the nation suffer from further hardships.‘

“All those in attendence,” concludes the Times, “upon hearing these benevolent imperial words, burst into tears in spite of the august presence. This historic conference came to an end at noon.”

The cabinet met thrice more, from 1 p.m. till 3:20 p.m., from 7:20 p.m. till 8:30 p.m. and from 9 p.m. till ll p.m. All the necessary procedures were completed and the imperial rescript was thereupon promulgated, with the imperial seal and sign manual, on the night of the 14th.

So far the official account in the Times. Rumour and the actual experience of friends, however, add an ominous postscript. When the rescript was signed shortly after 11 p.m. on the 14th, several officers from the general staff, believing that the emperor had been “misled” and determined to intercept the rescript before it could be promulgated, broke into the imperial compound.
When the lieutenant-general in command of the imperial guard refused to cooperate with them, they shot him dead, locked up his staff officer, forged divisional orders, and called out the imperial guard to surround the palace. It was about 1 a.m. in the morning of the 15th.

The officers then searched the palace for the rescript. They imprisoned the chief aide-de-camp to the emperor but they could not find either the minister of the imperial household or the lord privy seal. Balked there, some of the conspirators rushed to Radio Tokyo. The rescript was scheduled to be promulgated in the morning and the studio announcers and technicians were staying up all night rushing translations, technical arrangements, and other preparations. But if they could not seize the rescript  itself, the rioters were determined that it should never be heard by the nation. All the radio employees were confident to the man studio (Studio No.1) and kept under guard by sentries with drawn bayonets. The station was also put off the the air.

In the meantime however a loyal officer of the imperial guards had managed to slip through the cordon around the palace. He notified the eastern army commander who was in charge of the area around the capital. He was a former supreme commander in the Philippines, ailing old Tanaka of the flowing moustache who had been shipped back to Japan so gravely ill that he had been given his full generalship almost as a posthumous promotion. But in those tense hours before dawn of the 15th Tanaka won his yellow flag beyond all cavil. Armed only with a revolver and accompanied only by one aide, the old man rushed to the palace, overawed the rebels, roundly upbraided them, shamed them so that the ring-leaders then and there committed suicide.

The mlitary police then took over the survivors and liberated Radio Tokyo.

None of these breathless events were known to the people of Tokyo when the 15th dawned. Extraordinary preparations had been made for the imperial broadcast. Special lines had been laid out to the devastated areas and loudspeakers provided. Long before the scheduled hour the crowd began to gather in front of the radio station until the broad avenue was filled to the edge of the park.

Inside the station, in the same studio where the radio employees had been so recently confined, the audience was also gathering, government officials mostly, headed by the navy minister and the president of the board of information. Whether as a result of the riot the night before or in accordance with the program, the emperor would not broadcast directly.

Instead the people in Studio No.1. saw only at the end of the spacious hall a golden screen with the imperial chrysanthemum. Behind it waited an announcer and a technician to operate the special turntable carrying the recording of the imperial voice. Thus was the illusion kept of a divine disembodied presence bestowing upon the empire and the world the benisons of peace.

when the rescript had been read, there was a reverential pause. Then through their tears, the crowd gave three banzais: ten thousand years, ten thousand years, ten thousand years to His Imperial Majesty. Suzuki’s address was prose to this elaborate poetry. Reviewing the course of the war he said that the imperial forces had “endured difficulties and privations beyond imagining”; they had made up for the deficient arms with “unequalled spirit”. But since Saipan the tide of war had turned definitely against Japan; a “powerful” American airforce had wrought “damage” on the factories and communications on the mainland; an atomic bomb had been discovered and employed, so destructive that it had wiped out “the greater part of one city and several thousands of the city’s residents were either killed or wounded”. To have continued the conflict would have endangered the very foundations of the empire and the very existence of the Japanese race. Not a word did Suzuki say about the U.S.S.R.

Now that the end had come, he continued, it would undoubtedly be painful. The fighting spirit of the forces was “still high” and the people were also “resolved to die”. But the emperor in his benevolence had decided. His subjects had no choice but to apologize and to obey. Certainly it was the duty of every subject to “foster the eternal prosperity and glory of the imperial family” whether that duty called for death or for surrender.

The end of the war, he warned, would not “lessen the burden and suffering of the people. The empire would lose “much of its territory”; “the glorious army” would disappear. But “we must develop the permanent racial life of Japan, transcending all past feelings and forgetting all selfish thoughts. There is up other way for us but to foster the new spirit of self-rule, creation, and labor in order to build a new Japan, and devote ourselves to the development of technique and science, the lack of which was found to be our greatest fault in the present war. we must build up a civilization that will contribute to the civilization of humanity. This,” concluded Suzuki, “is the only way to reply to the
unlimited benevolence of His Majesty the Emperor“.

At 3:20 that afternoon the old man who had after all proved to be old enough to commit political suicide by sponsoring the surrender, tendered the resignations of his cabinet. This morning his successor was appointed, the imperial prince who had been expected to lead the Japanese in the last charge and who will instead lead them now on the long road back. Contrary to popular expectation however the prince was not one of the emperor’s brothers but Neruhiko Higashi-kuni, once commander-in-chief in China, whose influence
on the army may now be needed to compel surrender.

That may not be such an easy task. If it is amazing that a nation could turn so meekly from war to peace, from the attitude of defiance to the death to that of humble submission, without warning or preparation, all in those few minutes that it took the emperor to promulgate his will, it is perhaps equally amazing that in this defeated, thoroughly crushed nation, there is danger of revolution, not for peace, but against peace.

Nor is it only the hotheads and the hotbloods, the scowling samurai of the naked sword, who howl for war. Today I heard only two civilian Japanese express their thoughts on the peace and both of them opposed it. One was a Japanese professor, brought up and educated in the U.S.A., one of the most intelligent and tolerant Japanese I have met. He talked earnestly and in all seriousness of an atomic bomb that Japan too was perfecting. At any rate, atomic bomb or not, he thought Japan should have fought to the end.

The other Japanese was at the other end of the scale, intellectually, socially, economically. She was our own maid, Kubota-san. She had two sons in the imperial forces and they were both alive. Was she not happy, I asked her. Soon they would be coming home.

“Happy?” she echoed. “I don’t know. I would have been happier if they had died for the emperor. when they come back to me now, how shall I face the mothers of those who died, the mothers of the men from the tokotai? It would have been better if they had died.”

What can one say to her? In the gaunt groves of the Yasukuni, before the shrines of the war-dead, the mothers and the widows kneel today. They say that already many of these women have committed suicide. They do not want to survive their loves and their defeat.


15th August 1945

The war is over. At noon today the emperor personally broadcast his rescript proclaiming peace. The Times, which ran the complete text under a modest three-column head (His Majesty Issues Rescript to Restore Peace), was held until the broadcast was over and we did not get the English translation until late in the afternoon. Dated “the 14th day of the 8th month of the 20th year of Radiant Peace”, it read:

“To our good and loyal subjects:

“After pondering deeply the general trends of the world and the actual conditions obtaining in Our Empire today, We have decided to effect a settlement of the present situation by resorting to an extraordinary measure.

“We have ordered Our Government to communicate to the governments of the United States, Great Britain, China, and the Soviet Union, that Our Empire accepts the provisions of their Joint Declaration.

“To strive for the common prosperity and happiness of all nations as well as the security and well-being of Our subjects is the solemn obligation which has been handed down by Our Imperial Ancestors and which We lay close to heart. Indeed We declared war on America and Britain out of Our sincere desire to ensure Japan’s self-preservation and the stabilization of East Asia, it being far
from Our thought either to infringe upon the sovereignty of other nations or to embark upon territorial aggrandizement. But now the war has lasted for nearly four years. Despite the best that has been done by everyone — the gallant fighting of military and naval forces, the diligence and assiduity of Our servants of the State, and the devoted service of Our one hundred million people, the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan’s advantage, while the general trends of the world have all turned against her interest. Moreover the enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is indeed incalculable, taking the toll of many innocent lives. Should we continue to fight, it would not only result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation but would also lead to the total extinction of human civilization. Such being the case, how are We to save the millions of Our subjects or to atone Ourselves before the hallowed spirits of Our Imperial Ancestors? This is the reason why we have ordered the acceptance of the provisions of the Joint Declaration of the Powers.

“We cannot but express the deepest sense of regret to our Allied nations of East Asia, who have consistently cooperated with the Empire toward the emancipation of East Asia. The thought of those officers and men as well as others who have fallen on the fields of battle, those who died at their posts of duty, or those who met with untimely death, and all their bereaved families, pains Our heart night and day. The welfare of the wounded and the war-sufferers and those who have lost their home and livelihood are the objects of Our profound solicitude. The hardships and sufferings to which Our nation is to be subjected hereafter will be certainly great. We are keenly aware of the inmost feelings of all ye, Our subjects. However it is according to the dictate of time and fate that We have resolved to pave the way for a grand peace for
all the generations to come by enduring the unendurable and suffering the insufferable.

“Having been able to safeguard and maintain the structure of the Imperial State, We are always with ye, Our good and loyal subjects, relying upon your sincerity and integrity. Beware most strictly of any outbursts of emotion which may engender needless complications, or any fraternal contention or strife which may create confusion, lead ye astray, and cause ye to lose the confidence of the world. Let the entire nation continue as one family from generation to generation, ever firm in its faith in the imperishableness of its divine land, and mindful of its heavy burden of responsibilities and the long road before it. Unite your total strength to be devoted to the construction for the future. Cultivate the ways of rectitude, foster nobility of spirit, and work with resolution so that ye may enhance the innate glory of the Imperial State and keep pace with the progress of the world.”

It was difficult to tell today from any other day. There were more people than usual in the tea lounge but they talked of every-day things. The maids and the waitresses shuffled along the corridors with unhurried pace. Their faces were drained of emotion and they averted their eyes. Somehow one did not feel like intruding into their thoughts.

The hotel radio was kept in the bird-room, behind the cashier’s little enclosure. Originally it had been a powerful American set encased in an ornate wooden cabinet. But sometime during the war the machine had been torn out, possibly to prevent anyone from listening to the forbidden shortwave, and now it rested, a tangle of tubes and wires, on a coffee table next to the disembowelled cabinet. It was now a very bad radio, connected by a complicated and clumsy network to a cheap round amplifier, but it was the only one in the hotel.

Around it now, in the neat little room with its three birdcages overlooking the ornamental fish-pond, the Japanese began to gather. The Germans, the Italians, the Thai, the Chinese, and the Burmans, kept to themselves in whispering groups along the corridor outside or, just beyond hearing distance, in the tea lounge and the lobby. But the Japanese crowded around the radio. The local chief of the military police was one of the first to arrive, a crop-haired, gold-toothed man with a Hitler moustache. He was not smiling now. The representative of the foreign office came next, tall, thin, and rabbit-faced. He did not speak to the kempei, although they were standing side by side at the foot of the stairs leading to the hotel theater.

Then, as noon drew near, the maids and the boy-sans and the waitresses, the cashier and her assistant, the reception clerks and the cooks, the embassy stenographers and interpreters, took their places around the wretched little mess of dull glass and steel which would soon enshrine the voice of the God-Emperor. In their stiff shy way they crowded upon each other; almost it seemed that they were huddling together for comfort, for some measure of assurance in the face of destiny.

There was complete silence as the clocks ticked toward noon. It was stifling. The windows had been closed to keep out the noise of the children playing by the pond outside. The waiting was oppressive and we watched the plump gleaming fish sliding smoothly against one another as they crowded obediently around the large black rock where the children stood, feeding them crumbs.

A Japanese woman married to an Italian tiptoed in. She was leading her two-year-old son by the hand. He was inclined to be difficult and to amuse him she showed him how to play with the song-birds caged beside the window. There was a smell elevator attached to the side of the cage and one placed a tender leaf or a pinch of golden seed in the straw basket at the end of the string.
Then the birds would hop to a tiny platform, thrust their delicate beaks through the bamboo bars, and pull the basket up.

A nine-year-old Italian boy sidled in, a tough bright youngster. A few days ago his mother had quarreled with the wife of another Italian, a New Yorker. The New Yorker’s husband had promptly smashed the other husband in the face, sending him to bed for a week. I wondered vaguely how the boy felt about his father now.

The radio was crackling and in sympathy there was a shuffling of slippers, a rustle of silk. A high-frequency note pierced through the furry undertones of static, held itself tinnily, faded, and then rose to the precise point of the exact time. Set your watches, ladies and gentlemen; mark the time, all ye good and loyal subjects, ye wrinkled horny-handed farmers with your foreheads on the straw mats, ye pale and bloated maidens in the baggy trousers, all ye stalwarts with the merry blossom on your backs, ye flea-bitten sore-scratching children playing with the empty shell case, ye tear-less widows by the wooden boxes from the far frontiers of war, ye scowling, weeping, breast beating warlords and sealords, mark the time; mark the time and wake, all ye miserable and wretched, ye bristly red-eyed welders, sleeping on each other’s shoulders; ye wan distracted mothers, bent with the equalling babies on your backs, dozing in the ration lines; mark the time, all ye good, loyal, bullied, cheated, gagged and handcuffed, starved, ragged, grateful subjects, mark the time. It is midnight at noon.

The Kimigayo stole in after the whispered awe of the announcer; it had never sounded so significant and fitting. It  was a band playing and the words were not sung:

Thousands of years of happy reign be thine;

Rule on, my lord, till what are pebbles now

By age united to mighty rocks shall grow

Whose venerable sides the moss doth line.

But the music might have been written for this hour of defeat; some dark foreboding in the heart of the ancient and forgotten troubadour who, a thousand years ago, had sung it for a German band-master to adapt, had haunted the simple melody with plaintive lamentation, with a grave and solemn anguish over the vanquished dead.

It was a perfect prelude to the voice of the emperor which came through now without an introduction. It was a calm and deliberate voice, a little distant, with a trace of weariness. As the intricate cadences of the courtly phrases drifted through the room into the sunlit garden outside, I looked around me covertly. It
was the first time that the Japanese had heard their “Manifest god”. All were expressionless as they stood, stiffly upright, their hands at their sides with the palms turned backward, head and shoulders bent low with reverence. Not a sound came from them. Perhaps it was blasphemy to weep.

When the rescript had been read, a younger more vigorous voice came through. It was the old Premier Admiral Baron, explaining the circumstances that had led to the surrender, the long wreck-strewn burning road that had led to the ruin of the empire. Then it was, and only then, that the Japanese wept. But they wept quietly, the sobs of the women were muffled in their sleeves, and
the tears of the men ran undried along their pale cheeks. Somehow it was painful even for a stranger, painful even to hear the Italians and the Germans outside in the corridors, debating heatedly whether the rescript had proclaimed peace or resistance to the death.

The broadcast was finished at a quarter to one. The Japanese went away silently, moving with bowed heads and reddened eyes through the clumps of foreigners already planning how they would rush home. It was incredible how swiftly normality, or at least the air of normality, was restored; indeed it had scarcely been disturbed. Lunch was a little late but it was served without a hitch.

In the afternoon I decided to go to Tokyo. I felt I had to see whether the Japanese had taken the end of their world with similar serenity. Before taking my train I went outdoors for a swim. The pool was deserted except for four Japanese boys frolicking noisily in the water. They kept to themselves but they did not seem depressed. Perhaps they had not yet heard. But outside in the
village it was the same. A group of school-girls in pigtails were skipping rope outside the hotel. A military policeman was feeding his carrier-pigeons. The crowd waiting for the electric tram had its usual air of preoccupation with bundles and tickets and seats.

The train to Tokyo was an hour late. As I waited on the  platform at Odawara two Japanese came up and spoke to me. It was the first tangible proof I had the the war was really over. One of them was a slatternly woman, dirty, unkempt, loose-mouthed, shifty-eyed. She asked me where she could get some medicine for her sick baby. when I said I did not know, she lingered a while and then, laughing, jumped down from the platform, and drank rapidly from a public fountain.

The other was a quiet—spoken man in a frayed national uniform. He squatted beside me and, while he unrolled his gaiters with a calm decisive hand, asked what nationality I was. Then he offered me some pipe-tobacco which he extracted from a smudged and much-folded envelope.

I refused politely.

“It’s excellent tobacco,” he offered it a second time.

When I refused again, he nodded briefly. He put the package away and then added in an impressive reproving tone: “It was American tobacco, you know.”

The train was packed to the windows with tired silent people and their huge bundles of black-market sweet potatoes, fruit, rice, two or three fish. If anything the atmosphere seemed less tense than usual. There were no longer any raids or strafing attacks to be feared. The lights were going on in the stations and in the countryside as we went by. In almost every official building there were also small bonfires, papers that were being burned before the Americans entered.

But nobody talked about war or peace. could it have happened in any other country in the world? Till yesterday, till even noon this day, they had believed, with a faith beyond all doubt, that in this holy war of theirs there could be no surrender, and that without surrender, there could be no defeat. Now the imperial rescript might speak obliquely of “a settlement of the present situation by an extraordinary measure”, of a war situation developing “not necessarily to Japan’s advantage”, of a benevolent solicitude for “innocent lives” and “human civilization”. But not the most polished and elegant circumlocutions could hide the fact of defeat, the “unendurable”, the “insufferable”.

What were now the “inmost feelings” of these good and loyal subjects? The unconquerable was conquered; the divine laid low. In the innermost recesses of the racial memory, no equal could be found for this “dictate of time and fate”. Not even when Hideyoshi’s armies staggered back to the shores of Korea to find their fleets swept from the sea by the “turtle-shell craft“ of Admiral Yi Sun-sin, had the imperial land suffered such a crushing defeat. For this was no momentary reverse, the abandonment of a conquered province, but total and complete defeat, submission of the imperial land itself to the conquering invader. No wind had risen from.the shrines at Ise and Togo lay mouldering in his grave.

For this the young men had frozen on the Manchurian tundra and vanished without a trace in the tall kaoliang; for this the young men had dragged themselves across the yellow plains of China, eaten the Weeds and the snakes of the jungle, burned on the lonely  seas, dived to their death through flaming skies; for this they had sechemed, robbed, lied, intrigued and tortured; what a horrible price of shame, degradation, and self-pollution for this, this bowlful of brown rice mixed with the husks of beans, mulberry leaves and cattle fodder, this torn and grimy mompei and the paper shoes that fall apart in the rain, this acre of ashes, this hole in the earth, this night.

“Beware most strictly of any outbursts of emotion,” O ye good and loyal subjects. “Cultivate the ways of rectitude, foster nobility of spirit,” ye wretched of the earth. The men and women about me spoke softly of the price of pickled radish, an aunt in Hokkaido, an open window where the soot was coming in. A child equalled and when it did not stop the mother opened the top of her mompei and gave him her breast; it was a big child but her milk was cheaper than rice. A tired old man, with many apologies, sank on the strip of seat beside me and loosened the straps of the sack on his back. We were coming into Tokyo station now and a gnarled peasant woman cried: “How bright it is!”

But no one looked up. The passengers went hurriedly and silently along the platform to the exits, afraid, ashamed, of the light.


14th August 1945

Tokyo was still silent on peace today and the rumor spread that an atomic bomb would be dropped on the capital if the American terms were not accepted by the 18th. But in all probability they will be accepted. It has been announced that the emperor will have an important message for the Japanese nation tomorrow morning. Even  the Japanese in the hotel are now talking in excited whispers. Some suspect the truth; others believe the emperor will call upon all his loyal subjects to fight to the end; but most do not know what will come tomorrow. They wait with a silent submissiveness to do what they are told.


13th August 1945

The American reply to Japan’s peace offer has been announced by San Francisco. Delivered yesterday the 12th it demands that the authority of the emperor and the Japanese government be subject to the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, presumably General of the Army McArthur. The question is more alive than ever: will the Japanese accept? The tone of the San Francisco bulletins which, with monotonous insistence, emphasize every hour that MacArthur will be the emperor‘s “boss” should warn the Japanese leaders what they can expect.

A Burman wondered why the Japanese, if they were really ready to surrender, had made an issue of the emperor’s prerogative. Now they must either take a clear humiliation, with possibly disastrous consequences to the prestige of the throne or go the whole way to national suicide.

A Thai explained that the Japanese were worried lest the emperor be brought to trial as a war criminal. A more reasonable explanation seemed to be that the Japanese government feared the Potsdam declaration on democracy might mean the forcible overthrow of the throne. At any rate the American reply is that the ultimate form of government in Japan.will be established on the basis of the freely-expressed will of the Japanese people which is a different matter since the Japanese will probably choose to retain the emperor.

A Chinese however doubted that Emperor Hirohito would personally survive defeat. He judged it probable that the present emperor would abdicate and leave the throne to the crown prince who, being still a boy, would not appreciate and suffer the indignities of surrender and who, if his coronation were suitably deferred, would not actually submit as emperor to the dictation of a foreign commander.

Some ambiguous echoes of this momentous debate have been allowed to reach the Japanese people. Commenting on the proclamation of the president of the board of information which only referred to ambiguous “utmost efforts” on the part of the government and called upon the people only to “overcome the present trial” and to protect ” the polity of the empire”, the Asahi today worried “How is His Majesty the Emperor? The concern of the 100 million
people hangs on this question. when we turn our thoughts to it, we feel a pain in our breast. It is this pain that will enable us to bravely overcome the worst and last trial. So long as the loyal subjects have the ruler, the _____ to advance is clear and the glory of the empire will be maintained.”

There has also been a significant series of inspired stories on the crown prince. On the 11th the Times front paged an announcement that it had been decided to establish a separate household for the crown prince and that a grand steward, concurrently grand chamberlain, had been appointed for him. Yesterday the 12th the Times had a longer story, centered on the front-page. ”His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince will shortly be graduated from the primary department of the peers‘ school”; he attained his 13th year this summer; he is enjoying the best of health and “observes strict discipline.”

“His Imperial Highness,” the release continued, ” rises at six in the morning and has never neglected his daily service as well as physical exercise, including fencing with his tutors. From seven in the morning to four in the afternoon His Imperial Highness undergoes school lessons, physical exercises, and training, just like other students. His Imperial Highness even takes part in the cleaning of the school-rooms and partakes of the simples kind of morning meal, consisting of one bowl of rice, soup, and a dish of pickles. His Imperial Highness‘ lunch and dinner are also as simple as ordinary people’s ration meals, with dishes of fish being served only occasionally. His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince has made a remarkable improvement in horse and bicycle riding in recent months and is showing a profound concern in current affairs.”

A Japanese diplomat however explained to us that the stories were strictly routine and not a preparation for the emperor’s abdication. Every crown prince, upon completion or the primary grades in the company of other boys, takes up higher studies by himself under a faculty of tutors. This accounts for the establishment of a separate household at this time.

More tell-tale however than these elusive hints is the mood of the press in general. The hoarse shouts of battle are dying down. The samurai, beaten to his knees, asks only that his head be properly severed and his honor saved. Even two days ago the Yomiuri spoke no longer of “final victory” but of “positive development and progress”. It was afraid no longer of defeat but of revolution. “Whatever difficult situation may come, we should not abandon hope. We should not behave blindly or crumple…. What should be guarded
against most is demoralization, self-abandonment, dejection, nihilism. For this purpose, don’t lose your heads but maintain perfect order. At this juncture no selfish or wayward acts are to be permitted. We should be strictly Japanese and protect the national polity of the empire throughout, mutually helping one another and collaborating among ourselves. It is not the true Japanese way to be absorbed in saving one’s self and one’s family alone. The freedom and the
futue of the race must be taken into full consideration. Collapse is something to be dreaded. In order to evade it, we must maintain our pride as Japanese.”

The Mainichi today is no less resigned. “The life of man has its ups and downs and the same is true of the history of any race…. Not to be disturbed by any turn in the situation, that is the attitude of a great people. In our country we have the imperial family, eternal and everlasting, and with the imperial family as
the center the 100 million people are united… Should our people allow themselves to disturb their domestic unity, they would abandon their glory of eternal life…. when our national fortunes were on the rise, the Japanese people maintained their unity; why not tighten it now that we enter a period or reverses? We should never despair or grow violent. we are a great people.”