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.”


9th May 1945

Language has its subtle treacheries and they are probably nowhere more plentiful than in the ordinary translation from Japanese into English. This morning’s Times carries two articles on the special attack corps that, largely perhaps from differences in expression and ways of thought, stumble from the pathetic to the silly and then step suddenly into genuine emotion.

The first is the account of a visit by a staff-member of the Asahi to a tokotai unit. It follows: “The quarters of the members of the special attack corps were located in a very plain building. There were no mats to be seen on the floor. Instead there were two quilts and two mattresses per man, gifts from the people of the neighboring village. In an inner room was an altar. Before it were placed two caskets containing the ashes of comrades who had given their lives to keep the enemy away from their beloved country. All the men wore their flying suits throughout the day. They had no other clothes. It was exactly six hours before their departure on a campaign from which they had no hope of returning alive, that I visited their quarters. Sergeant-Major Shimote of Hiroshima prefecture and Sergeant-Major Watanabe of Ehime prefecture were bending over a map that was spread out on the floor. In their left hands they held rulers. They were drawing lines lengthwise and crosswise. Sergeant Takeda of Shizuoka prefecture knelt down beside Sergeant-Major Shimote, asking: “We are to change course at x degree, aren’t we?” The heads of the sergeant and the sergeant-major came into contact. As one of them said something, the other nodded. This they did several times; each time their heads bumped together. But they made no attempt to prevent their heads from colliding. They were so deeply immersed in their work that it seemed they found infinite pleasure in it.

“Sergeant-Major Hashimoto of Hiroshima prefecture was sharpening a pencil nearby. He kept sharpening it only to keep breaking off the point. He repeated this several times. At length when the pencil had grown too short, he put it away and, producing another pencil, set about sharpening it. He was equally unfortunate in this attempt. But he kept sharpening with untiring energy, which was a quite a wonder to me. As I watched him at his work I felt an excitement such as is produced by the sight of some dramatic event. I felt as though my heart were being wrung. I found difficulty in breathing. Then a thought flashed across my mind. I felt my throat tightening. The four men before me were truly wonderful. There was nothing unusual about them. It would have their movements and speech had suggested even in the remotest manner that these four fliers were on the point of going to meet death. But there was nothing of that.

“After much hesitation I suggested that people in general were under the impression that the men of the special attack corps were doomed to die. The answer to this came from Sergeant-Major Watanabe: “Everybody is wondering about that. It is of no importance to us. From the time I change over to aviation I determined not to get married.” He added after a short pause: ‘To tell the truth, I do not remember having got it into my head to have a definite view of life and death.’

“Here Sergeant-Major Hirate entered, holding a casket containing the ashes of a comrade of his, Sergeant-Major Nakamura. Saying it was getting late, and that it was time to go to bed, he lay himself upon the mattress.

“‘We are to leave the ground in formation so be careful not to be half-asleep and crash into my buttocks,” said Sergeant-Major Watanabe to Sergeant-Major Hirate as he also went to bed.

“Presently a man from the communications corps came in. To him Sergeant-Major Shimote said: “Be sure to be on your guard. It will not be for more than an hour from X to X o’clock. Be sure.’ He repeated this several times in a loud voice. What the signal man was asked to do was to get in touch with the base by wireless the moment the members of the special attack corps rammed into the enemy. The report should be a confirmation of the fact that the members had fulfilled their mission and at the same time it would be something of a farewell to their mother-country.

“I produced a cigarette and asked Sergeant Hashimoto to give me a light I pressed the end of my cigarette to the lighted one of Sergeant Hashimoto and puffed away vigorously. I did this two or three times in the belief that by inhaling the smoke of a cigarette lighted by a member of the special attack corps, I would become imbued with the spirit of the corps. Sergeant Hashimoto was looking at me in wonder as I went through this performance. As I returned his cigarette to him, my hand touched his. I felt that there was nothing to distinguish my hand from his. I and the members of the special attack corps bathed together. We drank together. We sang together. We joked with one another. Essentially we were the same and yet we were different. Aloud I wondered why. Sergeant-Major Watanabe, who had overheard me, turned to me and said: ‘It is because you think about death too deeply.…”

x x x

The second article is by a correspondent of the Mainichi at the base of the Koma unit of the special attack corps. He writes: “One night when the members of the Koma unit were in their barracks, warming up for the action scheduled on the next day, an officer came up to me. In his hand was a square notebook which he asked me to place in his mother’s hands. A glance at the book showed that there were two Y100 notes between the pages. On the cover were written the words: To Mother, as well as his full name and the unit to which he belonged. ‘I’ll be glad to oblige you,’ I told him. A short silence fell. ‘I suppose you would not like me to see the contents of the book,’ I said, looking into his face with the air of a man who is afraid his request will be refused. ‘I have written nothing of a confidential nature there,’ he replied. ‘But I am ashamed of my writing. I was so poor at composition when I was a boy.’ He smiled and continued: ‘I was a spoiled child and must have caused my mother a great deal of trouble.’ The young sub-lieutenant spoke very quietly. I found it hard not to bow to him when he finished speaking. Here are some of the entries in sub-lieutenant Watanabe’s diary:

“Mother, I think that you will rejoice at my having joined the special attack corps. I and the rest of us have been the recipients of great imperial favors, as were our ancestors. Nothing is a greater honor to me than to be able to requite even the smallest portion of the imperial favor which has been granted to us and those who went before us….

“‘We came into the world to die. We have now learned to die….

“‘Mother, I am going along young airmen, some of whom are barely 20, and all of whom I have taught. Oh, Mother, shed tears for them. In their youthfulness, assailed by momentary thoughts of home, they are said to have shed tears throughout the night after receiving orders to take the field….

“‘Since I came to live at the barracks it has been my custom to go out to the middle of the airfield in the dead of night and pray that I may not be behind the others in offering my life for our country. Tonight there was a half-moon in the sky. As I looked up to it many thoughts crowded into my mind. I remembered a spring festival at a shrine, which I attended with my mother. I was dressed in a brand-new dark-blue suit with a knitted shirt that smelled strongly of camphor. In my right hand I clutched some candy that my mother had bought for me along the way….

“‘Today I find myself overwhelmed by emotion. This base is the last corner of Japanese land upon which my feet will stand. Tomorrow I am to take off. My mind is as clear as the bright sky of Japan. Mother, sayonara.’”

 

 


7th May 1945

For the past four days the Japanese government and press have mourned for Hitler and his Reich, Mussolini and his Republic. In the afternoon of the 3rd Suzuki expressed his “profound sympathy”. At the same time Togo called on the German ambassador to express deep condolences. The next day Iguchi, the official spokesman, eulogizing Hitler, declared that “his spirit, his labors, and his ideals will surely live in the hearts and minds of the German people. He will leave an indelible mark in history as one of the greatest leaders of nations, as a man of great vision who peered far ahead into the future, and as a man of action and labored with messianic zeal to create an order in Europe which would ensure stability, peace, and progress.” The press was not slow to follow the official lead. The Mainichi on Hitler and Mussolini: “Two great stars falling from the sky, trailing a magnificent glory behind them….” The Nippon Sangyo Keizai: “Tears of sympathy…” The Times on Hitler: “One of the towering characters of world history..”

But now the mourners are back from the graveyard and they are sitting uneasily in the lawyer’s office, waiting for the will to be read. The new heir does not look too friendly and the estate is bankrupt. Yesterday, calling a press conference hastily, the foreign minister made it clear that if the new Doenitz government was, as reported, making a separate peace with the Anglo-Americans, it was violating the tri-partite pact and Japan was consequently reserving freedom of action. Dutifully echoing the new line Asahi grumbled: “It is very regrettable that Germany has lost her political vision and virtue and ignored international goodfaith….”

 

 

 


1st May 1945

Today the Mainichi brought the first reaction to the surrender of Germany. “In the supposition that this report is true,” the paper writes the following analysis: “In the first place we want to remind our readers that the European war and the war of Greater East Asia are not one and the same thing. In their underlying causes they may have an extremely close resemblance. But they were by no means planned together…. Therefore the end of the European war will not mean the end of the war of Greater East Asia. The second question is what effect the surrender of Germany and Italy will have on our fighting strength. The answer has two parts. The first concerns the amount of support we are losing. Although we are not experts in military affairs, we can easily imagine whet amount and what kind of help we have been receiving from our allies far away in Europe. Consequently it cannot be said that we shall suffer any particular loss in this direction. The other point is this: what are America and Britain going to do with the surplus of fighting strength they have now obtained in Europe? It would be of no use to make any light conjectures. It is possible to imagine certain things…. However, at the present moment, it is better to refrain from doing so….”

Waiting for the tram at Miyanoshita, I came across an Italian acquaintance, a former naval officer, together with a Japanese girl and a Japanese man. The man bowed cordially to the Italian, when the tram finally came around the bend, wishing him a safe trip and a speedy return. He acted like a solicitous old friend. The girl did not say a word to either of the two; she appeared tovbe a complete stranger. She boarded the tram without a look behind her and stood quietly in a corner. Only those who knew them were aware of the fact that the girl was the Italian’s common-law wife, a former barmaid from Kobe. She had come up to the hotel for a short visit to her lover. But Japan was at war with the white man and, although she loved one, she must do so secretly, behind closed shutters. She was not pretty but she knew, as few Japanese girls do, how to wear European clothes. They made her look even lonelier in her corner of the tram, by the smudged window, out of which she was looking with a defiant misery. The man, neither of them knew. He was a military policeman who had conscientiously shadowed them during her entire stay.

The trip to Tokyo was interesting in itself. Yesterday morning 200 bombers and fighters raided Tachikawa, Hiratsuka, and Atsugi for about an hour. Hiratsuka is on the line from Odawara to Tokyo and when we neared it, we were ordered to pull down the blinds. Supervision was not very strict however and I caught a glimpse of the new landscape, flat and streaming under the dusty sun.


25th April 1945

The spirits of 41,318 army and navy dead, including the late Fleet Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, were solemnly enshrined in Yasakuni last night. Describing the “spirit convocation ceremony” which started at 6 p.m., the Mainichi writes: “Despite repeated enemy air-raids the atmosphere of the Kudan precincts inspired men with awe and veneration unutterable. First the guard of honor, led by the Commander Akiyoshi, took their appointed places, following which admiral Zengo Yoshida, chairman of the enshrinement committee, and other representatives of the army, navy, government, and the public institutions arrived. Then the members of the committee from the army and the navy, as well as Chief Priest Suzuki assumed their respective seats. Priest Takahara made an offering to the spirits and Chief Priest Suzuki recited prayers while all are ___ bowed in perseverance. Chief Priest Suzuki again recited prayers and without the offerings. The military band resounded throughout the precincts and all torch-lights were put out, turning the ceremonial place into holy darkness. During this time the spirits of the 41,318 heroes were deified and enshrined in the secret precincts of the Yasukuni eternally. After that the torches were lit again and the offering of branches of the sacred tree was solemnly made by Admiral Yoshida, chairman of the committee, and others, bringing the spirit-convocation ceremony to a close shortly after 8 p.m.” This morning in the presence of an imperial messenger (Prince Hiroyoshi Ito), the spring special grand festival of Yasukuni shrine will be opened.

The civilians killed in the air-raids have had their enshrinement in a row of figures. Today the government made public its first announcement on the damage suffered from the 1st March to the 16th April. In Tokyo some 510,000 houses hove been burnt; in Osaka, some 130,000; in Nagoya, some 60,000; in Kobe, some 70,000 Air-raid sufferers numbered in Tokyo some 2,100,000; in Osaka, some 510,000; in Nagoya, some 270,000; in Kobe, some 260,000. Figures for Yokohama and Kawasaki are “under investigation”. No figures on casualties were given. Still the Suzuki cabinet seems to be trying to fulfill its pledge for greater frankness on the course of the war.


24th April 1945

The ambassadors’ conference failed to divert the Japanese from the realities of the war. While looking forward “with the keenest concern and breathless interest” to “an eleventh-hour rally” by the Germans, the Mainichi concedes that from all appearances “death alone awaits the German nation.” For its part the Asahi, declaring that the fate of Berlin “is already more or less decided”, warns the Japanese people to be “profoundly prepared”.


22nd April 1945

Commenting on the “war precepts” issued to the imperial forces, the Times notes that the fifth calls on them to assume the leadership of the people. The reality of army dictatorship has in this case outrun the theory but its assertion at this time may well be a warning against any doubts that the army is the nation. Along the same lines that the Mainichi declared, yesterday that the “precepts” were needed, not so much by the armed forces as by the people at large. “The people too must make them their own.”

If the press is any indication however the people feel that it is rather their leaders who must be reminded of their duties. In the last three days alone Tokyo’s editorialists have come out with a crescendo of criticism. The Nippon Sangyo Keizai, after announcing that inflation has gotten out of hand, blames “mistakes and clumsiness in the economic control heretofore enforced. Many instances of mistaken control could be quoted,” it says. One has been “a lack of understanding” of the problem which has been regarded merely as a currency phenomenon. As a result “black-market transactions are being conducted on an extremely wide scale” and “in all fields, including armament materials, foodstuffs, and labor.” The Asahi, commenting on the recent shifts in central and regional administration officials, accuses these officials of giving themselves up to “idleness, laziness, and ways not befitting the emergency.” Refusing to be optimistic over the changes introduced, it continues: “Just because the chiefs of the regional councils have been raised in rank, it is impossible to expect freshness and vigour if meticulous and senile senior officials are appointed.” The Mainichi, worrying about the situation on Okinawa, complains: “Our armament production in the past could by no means be called smooth. While it is not a pleasant thing to say, one cannot help admitting that because of the weakness of Japanese politics, much material has been allowed, to remain dormant.” Some of this material was concealed; the rest was not utilized because of bureaucratic inefficiency.


18th April 1945

The Mainichi today carries more “last words” from suicide pilots:

“Although the expression ‘shichisho hokoku’ (firm resolve to serve the nation by being born seven times) is popular nowadays, it does not apply to us. We have only one chance to strike.” — Flight Chief Warrant Officer T.

“Oh, but Nippon is a beautiful country!” — Lieutenant N.

“I will be hopping off soon but I have nothing to worry about. Many more will follow.” — 2nd Lieutenant N.

“I am not saying farewell. I shall meet you again at Yasukuni shrine (where the spirits of the war dead are enshrined).” — 2nd Lieutenant K.

“I hate this rain. It has prolonged my life another day but I hate to think of those who are losing theirs on Okinawa. Really, I feel as if I were committing a crime.” — Cadet S.

“We are about to body-crash into an enemy battleship.” — last report from a tokotai formation.

The emperor had an ominous word of his own to contribute, in an imperial rescript granted yesterday morning; the rescript, an event in Japan, reads: The war situation having become increasingly grave, the enemy has been encroaching upon Our land with added intensity. We regret exceedingly that some of Our subjects have fallen victim to enemy raids or have been wounded, while some have lost their property or have been deprived of their means of livelihood, and many barely maintain their sustenance. We have commanded the disbursement from the Privy Purse of sums for relief and rehabilitation. The competent authorities are hereby commanded to give the people something to rely on in accordance with Our wishes.” The sum released, according to an official announcement, is 10 million yen.

But the principal topic of discussion in diplomatic circles is the sinking of the Awa Maru. The vice-minister of Greater East Asiatic affairs and many Japanese in charge of Philippine affairs went down with the ship. Had it not been for a last-minute hitch the ship would have carried the Laurel party, at present stranded in Taiwan. The facts of the case are summarized by the Times thus “The Awa Maru, 11,000 tons, (was) dispatched by the Japanese government on her relief mission in humanistic compliance with the repeated American requests to be allowed to send relief goods to American and other prisoners and internees. Promised safe-conduct by the American and allied government, the Awa Maru carried relief goods from the Soviet Union to the regions in the South. She left Koji on February 17 on her outward journey and, having fulfilled her humanitarian mission, departed from Shonan (Singapore) for home on March 28. From April 1 onward however all contact with the vessel was lost. With all Japanese efforts to contact the vessel futile, the government on April 10 requested information from the United States; whereupon the Washington government announced on April 12 that an American submarine had sunk the Awa Maru. In issuing a safe-conduct for the vessel the United States had pledged not to attack her on both her outward and homeward voyages and not to offer any interference whatever in regard to searches and stopovers. The vessel also was fully illuminated and carried clear identification marks. The last dispatch from the vessel also showed that she was strictly on her course.”

With such an air-tight case the Japanese press has been having a field day. Even the Times, always the most discreet, screams: “Inexcusable crime… inconceivable depravity… unprincipled action… ruthless savagery without precedent… lawless barbarians!” Discussing Japanese technique in propaganda, a German newsman (DNB) told me of some annoying experiences with local red tape. One was the fall of the Tozyo cabinet. The story was officially released to the local press and put on the air since morning of that day but only by noon was it officially released to foreign correspondents. Then, when he tried to cable the story home, the telegraph office refused to do so because no permission had been secured from the communications ministry; the board of information release did not count. The upshot of it was that Reuter’s beat DNB to the story in Europe. Another instance he cited was an interview with Dr. Ba Maw, the Burmese chief of state. As usual all Questions had to be submitted a week in advance by foreign correspondents. But to give an appearance of spontaneity and freedom, the Japanese official supervising the conference blandly asked at its opening whether there were any questions. One of the correspondents dutifully popped the question he had submitted beforehand. Ba Maw was not taken in and he did not like the procedure any more than the newspapermen did. He smiled roguishly, raised an eyebrow at the Japanese official, flicked over the pages of a memorandum. “Let me see, he said, “that was question No. 5, wasn’t it? Well, I’ll tell you. Why don’t you just subscribe to the Nippon Times?”


17th April 1945

Approximately 200 B-29’s carried out the last raid on Tokyo “causing fairly large fires in the urban areas”. The Japanese claimed the fantastic total of 105 B-29’s a downed or damaged. Another communique issued simultaneously yesterday afternoon said with a note of querulous complaint: “The enemy forces In the southern port of the main Okinawa, island have sustained tremendous blows due to our counter-attacks but now appear to be preparing for further offensive.” This in spite of another fantastic total of 379 warcraft sunk or damaged off Okinawa. A summery of “war results” so far claimed by imperial headquarters, made by the Mainichi, includes 16 aircraft carriers, 17 battleships, 54 cruisers, 53 destroyers, and 47 transports! It is an endurance contest between Japanese capacity for lying and Japanese capacity for believing.

Meantime all the vernaculars are being fed “human interest” stories on the suicide pilots who are credited with these marvellous feats. Here is a collection of typical incidents:

A bombardier, zooming upward after hitting the stern of a battleship, shouts out: “Wash your decks clean and wait for me. I’ll come every day!”

Sublieutenant K, after shooting down seven B-29’s in a single night, explains modestly: “There is nothing special in the technique of attacking B-29’s. I meant to ram myself against the enemy but in the dim moonlight I could not see the planes very clearly.” So he shot them down instead!

The members of the Kamishio (Divine Opportunity) special attack corps, before taking off for a suicide attack, collect all their money, Y400, and leave it behind “in the hope that it will contribute toward the production of better aircraft”.

Five naval cadets meet again at a tokotai base for the first time since a farewell student rally in the outer-gardens of the Meiji shrine in 1943. Four have become suicide pilots; the fifth cannot qualify because of poor eyesight. Before the pilots take off the grounded officer grasps them by the hand. “Fight my share of the fight too,” he cries and, cutting his finger with his sword, stains four ceremonial towels with his blood and gives them to his friends.

A suicide plane, lust after taking off, crashes into the sea. Four members of the ground crew immediately jump into the bitterly cold water and swim out to the wreck. A sergeant follows in a lifeboat with a large hole in the bottom which he has stuffed with his coat. The pilot is rescued. “Thank you for saving me,” he gasps. “I did not want to die alone.”

Before taking off, Lieutenant T. commander of the Shitei special attack corps, instructs his youngsters: “If we find only one aircraft carrier, I shall sink it. Let nobody else ram it. In case you do ram an enemy warship, be sure not to close your eyes.” The lieutenant, a newsman notes, has a wrist watch tied with a cherry-colored ribbon.

A formation of the Shitei special attack corps is about to take off. Solemnly its members tie ceremonial towels over their helmets. They are gifts from a navy captain and on each of them Admiral Toyoda, the commander-in-chief, has written the character “Trust”. The leader explains the objectives. He takes too much time. The take-off is overdue. “I am sorry I delayed you,” he apologizes. “Let us take three deep breaths.” They inhale and exhale quietly and then run off to their planes.

Three suicide pilots wait for the zero hour. Corporal laughs: “I would like to have a bellyful of nice juicy bananas. They steady my nerves. A bunch of bananas is the same to me as a pack of cigarettes to a heavy smoker.” Sublieutenant Y draws his favorite sword out of its jewelled case. His eyes follow carefully every inch of the gleaming blade. “I regret extremely that I will not be in a position to confirm my war-results,” he says slowly. Corporal T says nothing. They enter their cockpits. It is impossible to talk above the roar of the engines. They nod their heads briefly. A paper doll, his mascot, flutters in the vibrating cockpit of Corporal T. In a few moments they are off, like arrows in full flight, never to return”.