22nd May 1945

On the anniversary of Emperor Meiji’s rescript on education, a new wartime education law was promulgated today which virtually turns the schools of Japan into factories and barracks. The spirit of the new ordinance is given in its first article; “The student should shoulder the national destiny with a loyal spirit, devote himself to work vitally necessary in wartime, and display fully the results of the education he has hitherto obtained as well as train his intellectual capacity.” The law merely recognizes and legalizes the existing situation. Instead of going to school Japanese students will, as heretofore, work in the farms and factories or on defense works. But it is now legally provided that for these activities those who die or are wounded in line of duty, who are mobilized or conscripted, or who concentrate on wartime studies will be graduated or receive similar treatment without attending school or undergoing examinations; thus one might call them graudates “laboris causa”. Furthermore a student corps shall be organized in each school and a federation of student corps shall be established in each region. These corps will absorb the Dai Nippon Youth Association which once numbered 15 million members.


21st May

“The decisive battle in the Okinawas has become all the more fierce,” warns the Asahi, “The battle on land has shifted to Maha and Shuri and the enemy is making a vigorous attack with all his available strength.” “The general enemy offensive has taken on an added intensity,” chimes in the Mainichi. “Eager to make penetrations, the enemy is gradually strengthening his pressure north of Shuri and Maha.”


20th May

“The new national volunteer corps,” explains the Times today, “has as its prime aim the reorganizing and propelling of the normal activities of the people in their given occupations, supplemented by necessary training to enable the members to go into active combat action if a situation calling for such a contingency should arise…. But the Dai Nippon Seijikai, a strictly political organization, and the Reservists Assocation, which is under the guidance of the armed forces, are expected naturally to remain, inasmuch as their character and fuctions are distinctly different from those of the volunteer corps. Furthermore since the same individuals may hold membership in all of these organizations at the same time, it will in fact mean that they will be able to cooperate closely to strengthen the nation’s power along all lines of endeavor to propel the war to a succesful conclusion.”


19th May 1945

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

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

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

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

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


18th May 1945

After 100 B-29’s had pounded Nagoya yesterday, some 40 P-51’s machine-gunned airfields southwest of the capital this noon. This raids however have become so frequent that most people in Tokyo today are more concerned with the revisions made in the ration system and the dissolution of the Imperial Rule Assistance Association, for which the date has finally been set.

The new rationing system for Tokyo went into effect on the 15th. Persons from 15 to 50 years of age will continue to receive the standard ration of 350 grams of rice but those working “in jobs designated by the authorities” will get 400. Children will receive less in proportion to their age; those between the ages of three and five, for instance, will be supplied with 170 grams. The principal changes have been made with regard to the rations distributed to workers at their place of employment. Henceforth these rations will be made proportional to attendance and to the amount of work performed. A system of points has been worked out based on “the kind of service (50), the degree of importance (30), and the manner of work (20)” making a total of 100. Army and navy workers will get the full 30 points for “degree of importance” while government factory workers will get 20. Shipyard workers will get the full 20 points for “manner of work” while others, including aircraft factory workers, will get 10. On the basis of these points, workers will be classified into three categories. Workers in the first class will be given an additional 1.6 go of rice; in the second class, 1.2; in the third class, .9.

However shortages cannot be revised and most people in Japan spend more time scrounging for food than working for points. A sweet potato in hand is worth two in the booklet. You can see them on the streets of Tokyo from mid-morning, patiently reading a newspaper in the lengthening queue before the shops that will sell a bowl of gray Japanese noodles at noon. On every train into Tokyo, their muddy sagging knapsacks, knobby with potatoes or bloody and stinking with fish, dig into your back. I met one of these scavengers once in Tokyo station. We were both waiting for our train and he borrowed a light. He asked politely where I was going. “Odawara,” I answered and added: “Have you been there?” He made a moue of distaste. “Odawara? Why should I go there. Is there any more food there?”

If he read his newspaper this morning he must have folded under the long stories on the I.R.A.A. Was it going to get him any more food? But to foreigner the epitaphs on this curious Japanese experiment in totalitarian politics were as revealing as the revisions in the ration system. “It was on August 29, 1940,” recalled the Asahi, “That the I.R.A.A. was brought into being.” The China Affair had become “most acute”, the war of Greater East Asia was impending, and under Premier Prince Fumimaro Konoye the Japanese eagerly rallied to a “new structure” of government. Perhaps there was a touch of Prussian barracks in the architecture and a gay flash of Italian baroque but the “structure” was fundamentally as Japanese as a torii. The various political parties were not outlawed and hunted down; they dissolved themselves gracefully. There was hard driving corps of elite; “all the people are members”. For was there a Japanese who did not wish to serve the Imperial Rule or who pretended to assist it with greater right than his humblest fellow-subject? But the “structure” was so new that nobody knew exactly what it was. It was not a political party or a coalition of the old political parties; soon enough the government pronounced it a “public body”, an official organization. It received a subsidy from the government; its president was also the premier and he was president because he was premier, not premier because he was president. The I.R.A.A. was everything and nothing. “There was little indication of where the core of the body lay. It was natural that under such a system few activities could be undertaken.” So, this “new structure” that the Japanese with their passion for perfection and unanimity had made all-embracing, began to break up. An I.R.A. Political Association was developed. Then in Januuary 1942 the I.R.A. “Manhood Corps” gathered “the cream of comrades faithful to the work of imperial rule assistance.” They worked in the fields and aircraft factories and “their achievement will shine gloriously on the pages of the political history of the Showa era”. “But quite often the body exceeds the limits of its powers and its activities were restricted by the bureaucracy. Soon it became an obstacle to parliamentary control and it was made a target for attack in the diet.” The corps was flexing its muscles too publicly, it was taking on too much of the aspect of a real power-party. Nevertheless the process of reproduction by division continued. The original cell divided itself further into a Great Japan Women’s Assocation, a Great Japan Young Men’s Assocation, Associations for Service to the State through Commerce, through Agriculture, through Industries.

But in the inert accumulation of its featureless offsprings the I.R.A.A. was already dead. It only remained to throw the mess out of the window before it began to stink. With that fatal stubbornness, that suicidal pride, which will not admit error or defeat, the Japanese talked of a “new” association, one that would try to to be different by being the same, the only difference being that this one would succeed. The I.R.A.A. changed its name and became the Great Japan Political Association; it put a general at the head, instead of an admiral; still no politicians, no issue, no arguments; only an impressive and reassuring unanimity. Now the I.R.A.A. will change its name too; it will become the national volunteer corps; after the 10th June a new embalming fluid will be tried. Nobody expects it to succeed; nobody expects to understand it except for one significant ominous change. For the present it will continue to embrace “all the people”; it will continue to be vaguely everything and nothing; but when the time comes, the corps will become “a battle unit”. That is something that everyone can understand, and, terrible as it will be, it will come perhaps as a relief, the cold hard blow of a typhoon after the stifling silence of the night, a gush of blood from the inert corpse, an exciting immediate personal challenge, as personal as a bayonet at one’s throat.


17th May 1945

I had scarcely arrived at the embassy in Tokyo yesterday when the chauffeur ushered a Japanese marine into my office, He was a tall awkward fellow who, after many bows, informed me that I was wanted for questioning at a navy court-martial in connection with a Japanese I knew called Fujita. He had a little red notebook in his hand which he continually consulted. After I had assured him three times that I was the man he wanted, he wrote down meticulously the date and the hour of the appointment: 10 o’clock in the morning of the following day.

.As I was being driven to the ad dress the marine had left, I uneasily reviewed in my mind what I had heard about Fujita. He was a civilian employee of the navy, I knew. He had said he was working in a listening-post. Why had he been arrested? Had he circulated American news reports? Could it have been that frank discussion of the war situation which he had delivered at, of all places, a munitions factory?

I recalled with a twinge of apprehension that he and I had had many unreserved conversations in my apartment; he had even given me “confidential” maps from the navy files, maps which were as a matter of fact mere reproductions of those issued by the coast end geodetic survey of the Philippine government. He had also shown me copies or American short-wave newscasts. Had my apartment telephone been tapped? Was there, after all, a dictaphone around?

The appearance of the building which was my destination was somewhat reassuring. It was the house of a former baron, the chauffeur told me. It had not lost its air of decayed gentility; there was a square gravelled yard in front but it had an untidy fringe of weeds; the squat double staircase had once been painted cream, like the front of the house, but now the paint was flaking and discolored.

We had to wait a while before a porter finally answered the chauffeur’s calls. Me took me up the staircase to a small room in the back of the house, overlooking a tangled garden, cluttering up with bamboo poles, a heap of raw cement, a pile of rope. The corridors and anterooms through which we had passed had only increased the general impression of dingy squalor. One always associates the navy with a scrupulous and burnished cleanliness but here the floors were gritty with dust, the windows dark with grime.

I looed around the room where I was now asked to wait, together with the embassy chauffeur who, would act as interpreter.

It was a small bare room, almost completely filled by a long table at which were set 10 or 12 red plush chairs. The walls were covered with a pretentious pattern; on one side hung a blackboard on which some characters had been written. The chauffeur said they meant “secret” and “confidential”.

After about a quarter of an hour a friendly young naval officer came in, together with yesterday’s marine. In his rimmed glasses and neat uniform he looked life a university student. He spoke little English it turned out, and I did not speak enough Japanese. I suggested the services of the chauffeur. Unfortunately the business was “confidential” and, after dismissing him, the officer sent for a dictionary.

We stared at each other across a corner of the long table, each of us, I suppose, busy with our own thoughts, while the marine rummaged in the next room. Finally everything was ready; we ran our fingers tentatively over the pages of our dictionaries; the marine sat down at an appropriate distance with a pencil poised over his red notebook.

This was not a court, he began. He was not a judge or a prosecutor. He was Fujita’s defence counsel. Would I be willing to answer a few questions for his sake? Of course, he reminded me, as a diplomat I could claim immunity from any further connection with the proceeding.

I did not see how I could withdraw without arousing unpleasant suspicions, and a lively curiosity as well well as a desire to help the unfortunate Fujita who, it turned out, was confined in this very building, promoted me to waive immunity.

Thereupon he opened a thick and ragged dossier and unfolded a long list of what I presumed were the charges against Fujita.

“Is it true,” he asked, “that Fajita talked to you concerning military or naval matters?” His voice was fflat a rd expressionless. He seemed to be rather bored, wither like a clerk asking for the name and address of a taxpayer.

”I don’t remember,” I answered, “but I don’t think so. We talked mostly of Manila where we met.”

His expression did. not change and. he went on to particulars. Was it true that Fujita hat told me that the Japanese commander-in-chief in the Philippines ha fled to Taiwan? That the Japanese had suffered a disastrous defeat in the naval battle off the Philippines? that Japanese losses in Leyte totalled 70,000? That Aquino, the Republic’s Speaker of the Assembly, would betray the Japanese? That Japan intended to abandon the Philippines and withdraw from all the southern regions? That only one-fourth of the planes produced in Japan were serviceable? That, in case of the American landing on the mainland, the Japanese had no means of resistance available?  That   there had been ‘disturbances’ in Chosen? That there might be ‘disturbances’ in Japan? That he himself preferred to live under any foreign government rather than continue under any Japanese regime?

All throughout the use of that curious construction: was it true etc.; was it true that Fujia had told me, etc. As I returned a steady stream of “No’s” and “I don’t remember’s” to this series of leading questions, he grew increasingly puzzled.

“Okashi, ne,” he murmured hunder his breath. “Strange, very strange.”

I began to feel slightly apprehensive. My answers, I knew, would have run false in the ears of any experienced examiner, especially if the true had been mixed with the false among those leading questions. But I had no means of knowing how much the police had discovered or Fujita had confessed, and I decided to continue taking my chances on his obvious inexperience and distaste for this work. At long last we were finished. He thanked me formally. “You were very kind,” he said, “I hope we shall be able to do something for Fujita. He is a good man.” “But,” he added, “he likes to talk.”

He folded the list of charges. “I cannot understand the military police. They claim Fujita told you all these things. You are sure…?” I hastened to reassure him. It was plain he did not like the military police. He told me that the kempei had arrested Fujita and proposed to try him but the navy had stepped in to protect its employee. As a result Fujita would be tried by a naval court of inquiry. The officer had a typical solution for this vexing problem of the military police. “Soon,” he told me confidentially, “we shall have our own military police.”

I rose. “Could you,” he stopped me, with the air of having just remembered, “sign this paper please?”

“But this paper is blank,” I protested.

“I know,” he said ruefully. “I am sorry. This man,” and he pointed to the marine, who was grinning shamefacedly over his red notebook, ” should have taken down your answers during the examination. But he does not understand English.” I laughed and said that I could not possibly sign a blank sheet of paper. If he could send a summary of my statement later to the embassy, I should be glad to sign. He let it go at that. We bowed to each other once more and then I asked him what streetcar to take to get back to Kudan hill, as the embassy car was gone. He went down with me to the gate and gave me the necessary directions. When I went away I saw him studying me behind his glasses, still a little puzzled and uncertain.


16th May 1945

In a formal decision of the cabinet Japan recognized yesterday that the tri-partite treaty, the subsequent Axis military alliance, the anti-Comintern pact, and other related treaties have been “rendered null and void”. As if by pre-arrangement the vernacular are full of portents and warnings.

“The ground fighting on the main Okinawa island has become more difficult and has come to assume aspects admitting of no optimism for the future,” broods the Mainichi in a lengthy summary of the battle there. “It is considered inevitable,” adds the Tokyo Shimbun, “that the number of enemy planes raiding the mainland shall rapidly increase in number.” Both articles are tomely and typical of Japanese expectations. They may be worth reproduction for future comparison with the facts and with the corresponding American versions.

The Mainichi on Okinawa: At first the Japanese forces resorted to the tactics of enticing the enemy forces to complete their landing instead of attacking them on the beach, because the latter method would have entailed serious sacrifices on our part as was the case in the Peleliu campaign. Afterward it was planned to subject the enemy forces  to serious losses by taking advantage of the well-constructed positions in the interior of the island.

“Thus our forces aimed to smash the enemy warships and other vessels on the sea, cutting off the supply-line, while on land they aimed to inflict losses on the enemy and shatter his fighting-power and fighting-will. Accordingly the enemy landed on the main Okinawa island on the 1st April without meeting the customary resistance and easily occupied the north and central airfields. But when the enemy advanced to the line connecting Oyama and Tsuha via Shinoushi bay, he met our full-fledged counter-attack. Since then a sanguinary battle has raged between the two opposing forces….

“Our counter-attack which started in the evening of the 12th April broke the first deadlock. This counter-attack, short in time and limited in area, caused the enemy serious losses and delayed his second offensive one week. Our side however suffered considerable exhaustion in its fighting power.

“Thereafter the enemy reorganized his positions and resorted to another offensive, mobilizing four full divisions in the southern section of the island alone. The enemy however met strong resistance and on the 23rd April or thereabouts he was compelled to withdraw the 96th and 27th divisions to the rear.

“The enemy advance, notwithstanding, continued steadily though slowly. On the 12th May the enemy reached high ground menacing the line connecting [illegible] and Shuri. Of course the fate of the Okinawa battle does not depend on this line alone and we have still bases back of it but so long as the enemy finds it possible to obtain reinforcements and so long as the enemy can use tanks and other fire-power arms effectively against us, future ground fighting is expected to become more intensified.

“Our air units, including the special attack corps, have been causing the enemy sea forces serious losses to such an extent that already more than 500 enemy vessels, large and small, have been sunk or damaged. This has had the effect of paralyzing the enemy’s Pacific fleet….

“(But) whatever losses the Japanese may force or the enemy in his sea strength, if they allow the enemy to advance on important lines on land, the war situation will have to be declared disadvantageous to our side…. Due to our valiant fighting on land one-third of the enemy ground force has been disabled but our losses have not been small. The resent margin of strength between the two opposing forces is so large that if the present state of affairs is allowed to continue, it is calculated that the enemy will outlast our forces on the island. No further delay is therefore permissible. At this moment we can only attack and do nothing but attack.”

The Tokyo Shimbun on the air blitz: “The number of enemy planes that came over on the 13th and 14th May totalled some 630 b-25’s and over 2000 carrier-borne planes and seaplanes of varying size. Their aerial invasion covered almost the entire area of the mainland.

“Since the construction of the air base in the Marianas has evidently been completed, it is but natural that the enemy air-raids should increase in number…. Accordingly we are not taken aback by the frequency of the latest air-raids. We have also fully anticipated correspondingly heavier losses.

“The question facing us now is how the losses can be minimized. Frankly speaking the work of air defense in the large cities has not been successfully conducted and is still far from complete…. In some localities indications are seen that the authorities, in giving advice to the farmers, only succeed in frightening them. It is to be hoped that the government and local authorities, both military and civilian, will make further efforts in this direction.”


15th May 1945

About 400 B-29’s raided Nagoya yesterday, “for the first time dropping incendiaries on a large scale in the daytime”, while 300 carrier-borne planes were raking Kyushu, following up a larger raid the day before by 900 planes. In Okinawa, reports the Asahi, “a confused battle is raging, with indications that the fighting line has been shifted nearer to Shuri and Naha. Evidently the enemy has come out to launch a general offensive both on land and sea.” In view of this, orders the Asahi, “is the enemy inordinately intending to win the war at one stroke?”

And the paper complains: “We have the favor of heaven, the harmony of men, and the advantage of locale. What we lack, it is regrettable to say, is materials.” Heaven favors the longest assembly-line.

Premier Suzuki knows it. At a conference of prefectural governors yesterday he reminded his hearers that the empire was now fighting along, “that it could not fight without an increase in production, and that there could be no increase “without the people’s trust”.

It is probably the chief disadvantage of a bureaucratic government that it must be taught this basic technique of the politician. Certainly it is startling for one who has lived under other forms of government to hear such elementary instructions as the premier felt compelled to give the governors:

“It is necessary that you should live and work in concert with the people…. With modesty and with the attitude of reflecting on your conduct daily, you are called to recognize straightforwardly the prevailing situation, give consideration to the spirit of the people at work, listen to their enthusiastic will, and respond thereto. The result will be that you will be kinder in your leadership….

“Show a good example to the people and take proper and timely measures as necessity arises, without being influenced by the ups and downs of the war situation. In the course of the performance of your duties you will find obstacles in time-honored customs and complicated regulations, but it is hoped that you will judge the situation on the basis of your responsibility…. and act with dispatch and courage.”

The Premier did not forget to give the governors a certain reassurance. As I often say,” he reminded them, “world war history shows that it is not always the big country that wins and the small country that is defeated. The country that fight it out under a moral order gets the ultimate victory.”

Which is no truer than it is to say that right makes might.


14th May 1945

The Japanese mother-in-law of a Filipino in Tokyo is trying to let her house and sell her furniture — too late. The peak of the prices has passed; everyone is trying to get out of Tokyo now and to get rid of household possessions. Only kitchen utensils and bedclothes continue to rise in value, when they can be found at all. But she keeps waiting, delaying, postponing the date of her family’s evacuation from the capital. She believes firmly that if only she waits, delays, and postpones long enough someone will pay her a fabulous price for her old piano.

She should be told that food, particularly sugar, is the only commodity that bring fortunes in the black market these days. Vargas told me today that he had been approached recently by one of our interpreters with a strange proposition. There were some 100 sacks of black-market sugar to be had somewhere and a group of rich Japanese were eager to buy the lot. But due to government restrictions they could not withdraw the required amount from their banks. The proposition was that Vargas should advance the sum (more than half a million) to be repaid within a few days, presumably after sugar had been disposed of in small lots. What he was supposed to get out of it, Vargas did not bother to find out.

At any rate, he remarked, the Japanese tycoons were going to almost any lengths to get their frozen assets out of the banks. Some, he had heard, applied for permission to withdraw heavy sums on the excuse that the money would be spent on constructing or expanding plants needed for the war effort. Once permission was granted however, the money was hoarded. “There’s a lot of fooling around,” Vargas concluded. “But they are only fooling themselves.”