12th August 1945

All the world knows that the Japanese are ready to surrender except the Japanese, A rumor ran through the Village today that Japan had made peace with the U.S.S.R. but it did not go further. A proclamation issued by the war minister on the 11th notified the army: “The only task before us is to fight out the holy war resolutely for the maintenance of the divine state. Even though we may eat grass, gnaw earth, and sleep on the fields, we shall definitely and resolutely fight. When we do so, I am confident, there will be life even in the midst of death.”

The people know no more. The papers still maintain the atmosphere of unrelenting war. The comuniques follow one after the other: “fighting is proceeding” in Manchoukuo, Chosen, Karafuto; the air force has attacked the American task force in the waters east of Miyagi prefecture; hundreds of B-29’s and carrier-borne planes are blasting Kanto, Chiba, Ibaraki, Tokushima, Kainan, Hachinoye, Misawa, Ominato, and all of Kyushu. The government is studying the conversion of tea leaves and mulberry leaves into a vitaminized flour; 20 girl employees in Karafuto are donating their spare time to the manufacture of salt; the sake output has been increased; benzine is being wrung from pine resin; four railway employees at Yamakita have been awarded prizes for safety maneuvering a burning freight-car full of explosives into a forest before it blew up.

But the announcement of the president of the board of information on the same day as the war minister’s proclamation had already a Delphic note. “The worst condition has now come,” he said. “To defend the last line, to protect the national polity and the honor of our race, the government is exerting its utmost
efforts and at the same time expects that the people will also overcome the present trial to protect the polity of the empire.”


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.”


27th April 1945

“In view of the increasing skill of the enemy,” the siren signals will be shortened. The alert (one continuous blast) will be cut from three minutes to one and the actual alarm (a series of blasts) will be blown for four seconds five times instead of 10, starting the 1st May.

It was announced today that Manchoukuo Premier Chang Ching-hui arrived in Tokyo last Monday, when the ambassadors’ conference was held, “to commemorate the Manchou emperor’s first visit to Japan 10 years ago. Chang promised to present 30,000 tons of soy beans and 2,300 tons of salt “as a token of Manchoukuo’s sympathy toward air-raid victims.”


7th April 1945

With 120 bombers over Tokyo and 150 more over Nagoya, Suzuki requested “the visits of ministerial candidates to his cabinet-organizing headquarters” from 8 o’clock this morning and “entered into direct negotiations with them.” The press expected that some of the Koiso ministers would be retained, among them Admiral Yonai for the navy, “to organize the most powerful cabinet available, one that will be the last of the war, ” a phrase of double meaning.

In the Fujiya I was surprised to meet the Manchu ambassador. We had received the official notification of his return home on leave. He explained that he had left Shimonoseki on the ferry to Chosen but one of the magnetic mines sown by B-29’s had exploded 15 meters behind the ship, lifting it out of the water and damaging its propellers. It had to be towed back to Shimonoseki. Now the ambassador is waiting for a plane.


7th March 1945

The Manchu ambassador was a dinner guest at the embassy today. When dessert was served he waved it away.

“I have been forbidden to eat sweets by my doctor,” he explained. “How lucky you are”, exclaimed Vargas.


September 9, 1943

Once the Philippines becomes independent—and many believe that it would be within this month—would she enjoy a complete and absolute sovereignty, a national and international sovereignty as defined by Jean Bodin and as described by political law?

The Constitution is silent on this matter. Rather, all indications pointed to an independence, not of the western style, but of the oriental manner, as Manchuria and Burma, and independence with protection. International jurists would say that this is a contradiction in terms. But Japan prefers to carry out the plan in the style of Alexander the Great. For the moment, the imperial Armed Forces will stay in the Philippines. After all, as a spokesman explained, Japan will grant the independence to the Filipinos, but she will not leave them alone to their fate but would bind herself to the duty of maintaining and defending’ this independence. The Philippines does not have a single ship—not even a merchant ship—nor an airplane nor an army of its own. If the Philippines were attacked, or if Japan were attacked in the Philippines, only Japan has the means of defending her.

But once independent—under Japan—would not the Philippines be under obligation to declare war against the enemies of Japan, specially if those enemies would wage a war against the Islands? This is the worry and problem of the people. The Filipino leaders are bitterly opposed to the Japanese suggestions of war and are frank about their fears that a declaration of war would be prejudicial both to the Philippines and to Japan. An army for the Philippines would rather fight against rather than for Japan. But Japan has set her mind on the matter.

It remains to be seen whether, with the emancipation of the Philippines, Japan will abandon the undertakings and commerce which she took possession of during the occupation. At the moment, it cannot be expected that she will give up what she confiscated from enemy aliens.

With regard to the Philippines, the Constitution carries transitory provisions that “all rights and privileges acquired by any person or entity from the beginning of the Great East Asia war shall be subject to final readjustments at the end of the war.” Until then, the Japanese cannot be deprived of their holdings. Besides, the appendix of the Constitution authorizes the President, contrary to the main provision of the same, to enter into contract with any foreign power for the exploitation of national resources and the operation of public utilities. Evidently, this provision was added to enable Japan to continue exploiting our mines and other industries.


February 21-23, 1943

Shoreham Hotel.

Summary of events here during my two weeks of absence:

The letter Quezon was drafting when I left, in which he asked the President’s support for a joint resolution of Congress declaring the Philippines “are and of right ought to be free and independent” was never sent. Instead he saw the President just back from his trip to the Casablanca Conference. Result was that the State Department sent him a memorandum that the appointment of Quezon to the Pacific War Council and his being asked to sign the United Nations Declaration was the equivalent of recognition by the American President of the Philippines as an independent nation. Obviously, they decided that the proposed Congressional joint resolution would be ridiculed by the Japanese when they were in occupation of the Islands. Legally the President has no power to free the Islands while they are still–nominally, at least,–a possession of the United States. But Quezon seems to be satisfied with the decision. (At least, it is a suspension of the constitution of the Commonwealth, and as such, leaves Quezon in command as head of that State until further constitutional action is taken, and thus averts the succession of Osmena to the Presidency of the Commonwealth on November 15th next. This, I believe, the President of the United States has a legal right to do).

Quezon’s radio address given out by the Office of War Information on February 20th, dealing with the announcement of this decision, was really excellent.

In part he said:

“Assuming that tomorrow Japan was to declare the Philippines an independent nation, what would that mean? It would merely mean that the Philippines would be another ‘Manchukuo’–a government without rights, without powers, without authority. A government charged only with the duty to obey the dictates of the Japanese rulers. After the tragic end of Korea’s independence, in utter disregard of a solemn pledge to respect it, it would be worse than folly to rely on any promise by the Japanese Government. . . . President Roosevelt has, in effect, already given the Philippines recognition as an independent nation. On my arrival in Washington, he rendered me honours due only to the heads of independent governments. . . . He has recognized our right to take part in the Pacific War Council, with Great Britain, China, the Netherlands and the self-governing Dominions of Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The President of the United States himself presides over the Council table. . . . In the name of the Philippines, I am a signatory to the Atlantic Charter. We are one of the United Nations. Our independence is already a reality. . . .”

This was broadcast using short wave facilities of the Office of War Information for the Philippines and other parts of the world.

Quezon asked me to read over the papers in the proposed contract to film his book, which Warner Bros’ offer–Morgan Shuster advises him to get a “radio lawyer” to protect his interests, and points out that the form of contract only guarantees that the “basic story” shall be under his control; that it would thus be possible for the movie company to present Quezon’s personality and his life story in a manner derogatory to his dignity. Probably Shuster’s anxiety is well founded; no doubt he welcomes a prospect of getting Quezon to finish his book, but his first concern is to protect him.

Quezon’s comment to me was: “How could I sign the contract when I haven’t finished my book?” I told him Shuster could finish the small remaining part for him. He said: “No–I’ll do it myself.”

Quezon had accepted an invitation to speak on March 19th before the National Republican Club of New York. Now he proposes to go away to “California” for the purpose of “protecting his health”–he would thus break the engagement. I try to persuade him at all costs to keep this date–in view of the growing power of the Republican party, he could not afford for the sake of his country and of himself to break it. He should go there and try to capture the good will of those important men as he did that of the Maryland Bar Association. He seems firmly of the opinion that he can go away on a vacation–is this a result of, or possibly influenced by, his recent conversation with President Roosevelt?

Quezon showed me a letter he was drafting to MacArthur about the management of the guerrilla campaign in the Philippines which is charge of Lt. Col. Peralta. Quezon resented the General’s trying to appoint civilian, as well as military officials–such as Confesor as Governor of Iloilo. Tells MacArthur that the young flying hero Villamor is on his way out there, and should be entrusted with such affairs. That we must be careful not to treat those Filipinos who are co-operating with the Japanese as if they were traitors–that attitude might really make them so. Says that some of those who had entered the enemy’s service helped these two young American officers to get through the Japanese lines and escape in August. The guerrilla depredations on Filipinos living in the towns in the north must be stopped. Many of those who have accepted military service with the Japanese will later use the rifles given them now against the Japanese when we return. Laments the fate of Manuel Roxas in falling into the hands of the Japanese. If they have murdered him for refusal to accept free the Presidency (he refused three times) he adds “I do not know how many generations it will take for our race to produce another Manuel Roxas.” Recommends that Roxas be made a Major General by MacArthur. Says that “Chick” Parsons is the best man to keep the Filipinos in line–he is now on his way back there.

At luncheon Quezon told us he had just received a call from M. Willoquet, French Consul to Manila, who left there last June. He said the Japanese were trying to marry George Vargas’ daughter to one of their army officers.

More about Manuel Roxas. Quezon forbids Bernstein to make public the fact that Roxas is in the hands of the Japanese. If still alive he is being pressed by the Japanese to accept the presidency. To stir up news about him might only result in his death. If he had accepted their invitation to become President of an “independent” Philippines (under the Japanese) this might even now be an accomplished fact. If he persists in his refusal, “he has only done what I wanted him to do–show the Japanese we would have none of them.” Roxas was taken out in an airplane from Mindanao in November; nobody knows where he is now–probably in Fort Santiago. The Japanese have been rounding up schoolteachers who were not conforme and putting them in Fort Santiago, just as the Spanish did–they probably shoot them there.

Quezon announced that Isauro Gabaldon has just died, 74 years of age, and “ten years older than he ever let Sergio and me know–we never understood how his wife (a Tinio) could be so much older than he was.” Upon the death of Tinio, Gabaldon became the “boss” of Nueva Ecija–he ruled by popularity, but Tinio had governed by fear. “He (Gabaldon) split with me on making further terms with the Americans, short of independence, which he thought was guaranteed by the Jones Bill. I had to defeat him first for the Senate and then for the Assembly, but I never attacked him personally, and when I became President of the Commonwealth I went to him and made friends again. The Japanese broadcast his obituary as “one of the most distinguished of the Filipinos.”

Consul Willoquet, who was French Consul at Manila, and was put in prison by the Japanese for being a Gaulliste, was released on threats by de Gaulle of reprisals on the 4,000 Japanese, who are prisoners in North Africa. He says that whereas Vargas could get no favours from the Japanese such as release of a prisoner, it is evident that Aguinaldo is really “sold” to them.

Vargas’ recent speech of February, advising all guerrillas to surrender and come into camp, since they were only delaying the granting of independence, reminds Quezon and Osmeña of similar appeals made by Pardo de Tavera to the insurrectos in 1900, “when I was one of them.”

Willoquet, who saw de Gaulle in London, says the Free French are planning independence for Indo-China.

Office of War Information reports a Japanese broadcast from Manila calling a convention there of all provincial and municipal officials to be addressed first by Vargas and next by the Japanese spokesman. A three point programme: (1) Independence at earliest possible moment. (2) Economic rehabilitation. (3) “Cultural Questions”–such as cutting off completely from the previous regime.

Long discussion on India with Quezon, (Osmeña and Bernstein present). Quezon is considered an authority on this subject. P.M. says he is the man to send there to settle it all. Quezon thinks the Cripps Mission brought about some sort of an agreement with the Indian nationalists, but the Viceroy (Linlithgow) and General Wavell took no part in the discussions. “If Gandhi dies, we may expect a wide-scale revolt.” Quezon thinks the loss of India would finish off for good the whites in the Far East and destroy hope of restitution of the Philippines. That China will then be forces to submit to Japan, since she will be shut off for good. The question is: will the Indian army stand by the English?

It is understood that Roosevelt reads only the New York Times in the morning and P.M. in the afternoon.


November 2, 1942

The new Ministry of Greater East Asia Affairs was created in Tokyo, a euphemism for Ministry of Colonies. This new ministry will have three big bureaus for general affairs for Manchuria, China and the Southern Regions. The last one, according to the Tokyo Gazette, will take care of the affairs of French Indochina, Thailand, Malaya and Burma. Furthermore, it will be responsible for the protection and education of Japanese residents in these regions as well as the administration, cultural activities, finance, commerce, agriculture and communications in these occupied territories.