6th February 1945

The evacuation program is still meeting with difficulties. The Mainichi reports today that some of the evacuees are even re­turning to the cities, either because they could not get along with their new neighbors in the countryside or because they could ‘ find no work. Calling for better planning on the part of the govern­ment and a more patriotic attitude on the part of the evacuees, the Mainichi emphasises that “evacuation does not mean to take re­fuge but to take a new post in the fighting line.”

I had lunch today with the president of the local Indone­sian Union. The organization is unofficial and semi-secret because the Japanese have not made up their minds about Indonesian indepen­dence and meantime have tried to divide the Indonesians in Japan, for instance quartering the Java, Sumatra, Borneo, and Malaya stu­dents in. separate dormitories. However they manage to keep in touch with one another at religious festivals. The Japanese would be surprised to learn, the president of the union told me, that at least 15 of the Indonesians attending these Mohammedan festivals are Christians.

Later one of the Filipinos in Japan called to ask for advice. He had published a Tagalog-Nippongo grammar-dictionary and now his Japanese publisher was trying to cut down on his royalties by claiming that several hundred copies had been “spoiled” and that some sort of new tax was payable on the rest. A Nisei friend chimed in with the story that after he had gone through the Nazi blitz on London the Japanese consul there had asked him to write an article on his experiences for the instruction of Japanese school-teachers. The article had been duly written and published but he had never been paid what he had been promised for it.

The Nisei stayed late into the night. He was obviously lonely. I asked him about his family and his home. He answered bluntly that he was not happy there. “I can’t even trust my own sister,” he grinned mirthlessly. “I think the police have gotten her to spy on me.” She was brought up in Japan; he was born and reared in London and was in Japan only for a short visit when the war caught him.

The Niseis are not very happy in Japan. He claims he has suffered more from discrimination in Japan than he ever did in England. In a way it is not to be wondered at so much in his particular case. The first time I met him he could not even read the signs in the subway stations; we lost our way and he had to sleep in my hotel. His Nippongo has still a very pronounced British accent. His thoughts of course are British. It is not difficult to tell what he wants; he is quite frank about it; he wants to “go home” to London. In the meantime he reads and re-reads his collection of Reader’s Digests, listens for hours to American swing, and hangs around the Filipinos in Tokyo because he can share with them some of his nostalgia. He is very young, very short, and very friendly, with a sharp humorous face. In the daytime he works with an oil company; he was designing improvements for the wells in Balikpapan and would have been sent there eventually if the war had not taken & turn for the worse. Some nights he gets extra pay for sleeping in the office and acting as air-raid warden; his experience in London has made him quite an authority and he is contemptuous of the American fire-bombs. The Germans used really big ones, he said; once he was thrown out of his bed by an explosion in the next block.

Somehow, perhaps because he is English and not American, he is different from most of the other Niseis, many of whom are so terrorized by the police that they spy on one another, bending over backward to prove they are true Japanese. My friend is nice. He never thinks of himself as a Japanese; it just never occurs to him.

He uses “we” and “they” in the wrong places. “We” do it in this way and “they” are crazy. But he does not hate or despise the Japanese; perhaps an atavistic memory helps him to understand, to forgive, to sympathize; his defense is not bitter, quarrelsome, it is tolerant, humorous, that of a sympathetic stranger.

21st January 1945

In preparation for the opening of the imperial diet today the government has announced the distribution of one bale of charcoal per family, the release of fresh stocks of fish and vegetables for winter consumption, and a gift of sugar from Nanking to Tokyo which will come down to some 20 momme per head.

For the past few days the government has also started raising its voice on its plans and programs for the future. The first heavy raid on the key Osaka-Kobe district, carried out yesterday afternoon by 80 B-29s, underlined the “new” air-defense measures taken up by the cabinet the day before. As a matter of fact there seems to be nothing really new in the proposed program outside of the fact that while “hitherto the various air-defense measures have been left to private initiative… henceforth the government will take positive measures.” An appropriation of two billion yen has already been laid out for the purpose. Otherwise the government is still talking about evacuating oldsters, children and nursing mothers, while retaining war-essential personnel; tearing down inflammable houses to make room for safety belts and water tanks; increasing fire-fighting equipment (one-pump for every neighborhood association instead of one for every two); more preparations for monetary and medical relief to raid sufferers.

The cabinet has also formed a wartime price council to fight inflation. The Asahi has damning praise for it in saying: “What is noteworthy is the fact that some 10 persons of knowledge and experience will be taken from among civilians to join the committee.” The paper also recalls that “at present the price administration in connection with munitions materials is in n the hands of the war, navy, and munitions ministries; that of civilian consumption materials, in the forestry and commerce ministry; that of transportation charges, in the transportation and communications ministry; and that of wages, in the munitions and welfare ministries In addition the finance ministry plays the principal part in measures affecting currency.” The Mainichi for its part comments; “The low price policy… has become a thing merely in name, not in reality.

Meantime the “31st investigation meeting for national mobilization” was held at the premiers residence yesterday. It adopted the draft of a labor mobilization law which will supersede and combine the five existing ordinances on the subject. From the provisions it is apparent that so far Japanese munitions industries have lacked the power to draft labor, hold it, lend and borrow it, replace it, register it, or even ask the government to aid it in getting it without going through a complicated routine of requests, certifications, and other formalities. This tight and rigid empire, which seemingly awes the world with its reputation for disciplined totalitarianism, is just learning about total war. It is, to anyone who can see it at close range, still fighting with the rudimentary techniques of the first world war. It has learned nothing from German post-war inflation. American wartime organization, or even Nazi totalitarian efficiency.

But a vague discontent and uneasy apprehension are growing; people do not know exactly what is wrong but they do know that things are out of control, breaking down, rotting; they do not know exactly what should be done — for they have been trained to feel that that is not their business, it is the business of their masters — but they are bewildered, frightened, slowly angering, while “waiting for orders from above”.

The members of the diet are only by courtesy and polite fiction the representatives of the people but they too have grown restive. Most of them are members of the single government party, the “Imperial Rule Assistance Political Association”, and now they are calling for its dissolution as well as that of its allied organizations, the Imperial Rule Assistance Association and the I.R.A. Manhood Corps. The Manhood Corps is the core of the opposition to dissolution but most people are indifferent to it. The reformers only want a “new” national party but it will still be national and, as one editorialist puts it, they are “still within the same old shell”.

16th January 1945

The press is still beating the tom-toms over the Ise bombing. A noted Japanese historian says that “the enemy are not men for men fight a man’s way”. An editorialist cries that “all the American devils should be slaughtered”. The Asahi openly accused the Americans of bombing Ise “according to pre-arranged plan”. The question is interesting. Was the bombing an accident or was deliberately executed to shake Japanese morale, to prove that the old gods are dead? Still, no Christian stops believing in God because his church can be burnt down.

Indeed if one is to believe the newspapers, the bombing has fortified home morale rather than weakened it. “We are convinced,” writes the Tokyo Shimbun, “that by this time there is not a single person in the entire nation who still entertains lukewarm ideas about this war…. There could be nothing to strike the people with greater awe and indignation.” The Americans, the paper goes on to point out, did not hesitate in the past to sink Japanese hospital ships, run tanks over Japanese wounded, desecrate the bones of the Japanese dead; now lse provides the “climax of American atrocities”. And the Mainichi for its part adds: “We cannot imagine anything from which the enemy will hereafter refrain.”

It is an interesting peek into national psychology. The Japanese atrocities that the Americans play up deal with man’s inhumanity to man. The Japanese like their atrocities in the theological stratum. The American wants to be a man; the Japanese wants to be a god, or at least the servant of a god.

May 7, 1944 (Sunday)

Mass and communion at St. Sofia’s.

Visited the Nagasakis this morning with Quiambao, and took pictures.

Anniversary of the Fall of Corregidor; We Meet General Homma in Personal Interview. Today, anniversary of the fall of Corregidor, General Masaharu Hommma, Commander-in-Chief of the Japanese Expeditionary Forces during the Bataan campaign, invited us Constabulary officers (ex-USAFFE officers( for an intimate interview at the Mainichi Shimbun Building at 2:00 p.m.

Present during the interview were two stenographers and a gentleman who was with the Press Section attached to Imperial Army Headquarters and who was with General Homma throughout the Bataan campaign. Maps of the Philippines, especially of Bataan and Corregidor (including copies of military grid maps of the U.S. Army) were spread wide on the table to facilitate our talks. The General made us feel quite at ease, and when we got tangled up in our Nippongo, we talked in English, the General interpreting for us for the sake of the stenographers.

The question asked by the General were substantially as follows:

“Before the outbreak of the war of Great East Asia, what did you think about it? What was the people’s impression of Japan before the war? What was the estimate of the military authorities regarding the strength of the Japanese Army? What were the effects of the first bombings in the Philippines? What was the attitude of the Filipinos towards the war? Was there racial or other discrimination in Bataan? What did you think was the entire strength of the Japanese Army in the whole Philippine campaign? What was the casualty rate on the Filipino side, including deaths in the concentration camps? What do you think was the casualty rate on the Japanese side? What units did you belong to, and what experiences did you have? What artillery guns did you use? How did you take the departure of General MacArthur for Australia? How about the landing in Aglaloma, the fight in the Moron, Abucay, Mt. Samat and Mt. Natib sectors? While in Bataan, what were the rumors concerning the Japanese soldiers? What do you intend to do now, and how do you view the whole thing?”

To these series of questions our answers were substantially as follows:

“Before the outbreak of the Great East Asia War, there were so many rumors about it, and the situation was very tense; but we never expected it to start as early as December 8, 1941; the Filipinos thought it was a war to safeguard Philippine territorial integrity and so the Filipinos, especially the youth, were anxious to fight, many volunteering to join the ranks, even while the fight in Bataan was already on, going there by bancas; before the war, the Filipinos looked at Japan with extreme suspicion, regarding her as menace to the Pacific and a threat to P.I. independence; the military authorities underestimated Japan’s fighting strength although some quarters seriously thought about Japan’s preparedness for a major Pacific war; the first bombings were quite effective, military objectives being hit accurately, and there was a general belief that perhaps the Japanese planes were manned by German pilots; there was discrimination in food rationing in favor of the Americans, but this was due to the different standards of allowances between the Americas and the Filipinos, and there was no way of complaining to our superior officers for they, too, (as Filipinos) were receiving the same poor rations; the Americans were careful about their treatment of the Filipinos because they were afraid to provoke the anger of the Filipinos who were very conscious that they were bearing practically the whole brunt of the fight in Bataan; an estimate of the Japanese forces was about 500,000 and casualties about 100,000 (the General said the Japanese forces numbered only about 100,000 and the casualties 5,000); we calculated the deaths on the Filipino side at about 50,000; we related our various experiences in our different sectors from the start of the Bataan campaign till the general offensive of April 3, 1942, which finally ended in the fall of Bataan; told him we used 75 mm. and 155 mm. guns, and he was surprised to hear that an average of about 1,000 shells were fired a day (he said the Japanese could not fire back so often due to lack of a good supply of ammunition); when General MacArthur left for Australia, he issued a memo to all officers to the effect that he was leaving on command of the U.S. President to assume a more important post for the successful prosecution of the war, which encouraged the men in Bataan; rumors about the Japanese soldiers were that they were barbarous and merciless and would spare no one if captured; there was also a communique issued in Bataan announcing the death and funeral of General Homma (the General heard this one, too, he said); now that we see the sincerity in the actions of Japan and the high ideals for which she is fighting, we cannot help but feel grateful for the opportunity granted to us to work for our country in particular and for Great East Asia in general.” (Heh!)

After the interview at the Mainichi Building, we proceeded to the Greater East Asia Hall where the General treated us to a banquet. Here, too, we continued our exchange of views. When asked as to what lessons could be learned from the Bataan war, the old veteran General said that jungle positions are the best defense, and an offensive in jungle sectors is the hardest military operation to undertake.

I told the General the following: “When we were in Bataan, we never thought of losing the war and much less of being captured prisoners; when we were in the concentration camp, we never expected to be released; when we were released, we never thought we would become Constabulary officers; as Constabulary officers we never thought of going to Japan as government scholars of the Imperial Government; and, finally, while in Japan we never even dreamed of meeting in an intimate interview the Commander-in-Chief of the Japanese Forces in the Philippines, our grand enemy in Bataan.”

Personally, I consider my meeting General Homma in this afternoon’s interview a fitting climax of my personal odyssey which started in the crimson fields of Bataan. I only hope I find time to write my “memoirs” which I intend to entitle From Bataan to Tokyo.