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?”


1st April 1945

Shopping idly in the luxury curio shops in Miyanoshita I was surprised to see that all the silver and tortoise-shell cigarette cases were gone. I wondered who could possibly have bought them at the fantastic prices set for them (plus an 80 per cent luxury tax). The shop-keeper explained that rich Japanese, who did not know what to do with their paper money, had not hesitated to buy them. Japanese are forbidden to buy or possess silver and the transactions were done through foreign friends.

In Tokyo the headlines went to the “new deal” for the Koreans and Formosans. An imperial rescript was promulgated today while the premier and the home minister issued lengthy statements.

No Korean was heard from. No Formosan was heard from. There were none to be heard. Possibly that is a better commentary on Japanese colonial policy than any rescript. For the rest of it, it is necessary only to recall that ever since Japan announced its program of granting independence to the various peoples of Greater East Asia, the Koreans and Formosans have felt they were neither fish nor fowl nor anything else. They were one of the peoples of Greater East Asia but they had no independence promised or delivered. They were being drafted for the Japanese armed forces and for labor service in Japan but they had no Japanese citizenship. I asked a Japanese diplomat last year what solution was contemplated for this anomaly. He answered that nothing definite had been decided. Korea was too important a bastion in Japanese defense to be abandoned; it would be given independence, if ever, only in the event of a complete victory which would eliminate all possible threats against the homeland. As for full citizenship rights, he was as solicitous about “readiness” or “fitness” for self-government as the India Office. The present compromise possibly indicates a trend toward imperial absorption as against “liberation” and federation. Or is it only a tacit admission that “complete victory” is farther away than ever?


21st March 1945

The Times today carried two remarkable stories, both hand-outs of the military press corps.

The first comes from Yiojima. “With the fighting on Yiojima reaching a state of ever-increasing bitterness,” it states, “Unit Commander Masuo Ikeda decided to ‘win by dying’. His determination was carried through completely to each of his men. So many volunteered for his close-quarters combat force that he was hard put to select his men. When the force was picked each man was given a mark with the word, ‘flesh’ written in red in the center of the cherry blossom. The conversation of the men in this force dealt mostly with the ideas on how to kill the greatest possible number of the enemy. That each would die himself was a foregone conclusion. The training was furious; it was simultaneously training to kill one’s self. Supreme commander Kuribayashi and his staff expressed amazement at the furor of the training. They said they had nothing more to ask nor did they see any necessary revision in their scheme of training. Standing by his men practicing to die, Unit Commander Ikeda felt a pain in his heart.

“Whenever I give the command, these men will die, and willingly,” he used to say, pointing to his force….

“Holes were dug in the ground and empty drums lowered into each. A man with a land-mine entered each drum. The drums were covered with earth and the surface made to appear natural. The man in each can sat in the cramped space with his mine, listening intently for the approach of the enemy. One enemy soldier was allowed to pass — or two, small prey. When a 40- or 50-man force came overhead the Japanese soldier inside the drum seized his chance. Now was the time to die. He set off his mine and blew himself and the enemy force to bits….

“This was a new method of attack which the enemy could not have thought of. It was a method of attack which only the Japanese could carry out. The will of the Ikeda death band to die in order to win was more fiery than the boiling sulphuric water which shoots up from. Yiojima.”

The second story would be of particular interest in the Philippines. It follows the adventures of Yokohama-born 18-year-old Miss Komaji Okada who is said to have escaped from Saipan three days after the invasion. “As one of the escaping party she was helped by natives who provided food and a simple dug-out boat which they rowed down a small river. For two days and two nights they drifted in the open sea when suddenly an enemy plane appeared and rained a hail of machine-gun bullets on the poor defenseless party. There was no recourse but to jump into the water to protect themselves from the deadly missiles. Miss Okada was hit in the thigh and though the surrounding water was reddened with blood that was oozing out, she never lost consciousness, and ever driven by the thought that no enemy should dare kill her, she applied a tourniquet with a towel as she precariously clung to the side of the capsized boat. The eight hours that ensued as she swam or floated around until she was picked up by a Japanese warship were a nightmarish inferno of anguish and torture.”

Miss Okada was taken to a “certain island” (apparently in the western Visayas) where she was receiving medical treatment when she had once more to flee. “This time the boat she was fleeing on was attacked by enemy submarines. Swimming about in the water she was sure that luck would not desert her. The bodies of many of her dead companions came floating by and bumped against her. As she saw these poor victims, she could not help but renew her determination to live.” By means unrevealed, Miss Okada turned up in Cebu. For a third time she had to flee. And again the vessel on which she was escaping was sunk, this time by planes. But she reached Luzon by lifeboat only to find that fighting there had already begun. For the fourth time Miss Okada fled. She is now in Taiwan and the people in Taiwan must be feeling a little apprehensive.

These two stories should be material for historians of propaganda and students of national psychology. Miss Okada seems to flee right out of Hollywood, via Ferry and the Pirates, Wild West Magazine, and possibly C.W.L. unit Commander Ikeda has more the tragic dignity of the insane.


20th March 1945

The train to Odawara was crowded with refugees and so was the neat little tourist tram to Miyanoshita. One young evacuee girl was making friends with the conductor; I overheard him thanking her for some gift or other and offering to help her load more of her baggage on the next trip. There was also a girl attendant on the tram, a youngster still with pigtails on. She tried very hard to be business-like, swinging off briskly at the stops, joshing the other conductors manfully, striding along with her shoulders swinging and her hands in her trousers pockets. Young-Japan — she will never touch her forehead to the floor to bid her lord and master greeting and farewell.

Miyanoshita seemed far away from the war and we could read with a certain detachment that an American task force has been raiding Kyushu since the 18th. The city of Nagoya was also raided shortly after midnight on the 18th by 100-odd B-29’s. Under these circumstances the Japanese will probably fail to be distracted by a new piece of political theater announced by the board of information yesterday. The franchise will be extended in the near future to the peoples of Chosen and Taiwan. Under the new system the people of Chosen will elect 23 members and of Taiwan five members of the lower house in the diet while 10 peers will be appointed from the same regions. “Although the qualifications for suffrage in Chosen and Taiwan will differ slightly from those prevailing in Japan proper,” comments the Times, “the new arrangement means not only a marked increase in the political privileges of the regulation of these newer portions of the empire but it marks further a tremendous step toward complete abolition of all legal and political distinctions among the various peoples of the empire.” The Times did not miss this opportunity to sneer at the “exploitation” and “racial discrimination” in the British empire. And indeed, as between the British empire and the Japanese empire, surely Japan, had the better starting chance of building a true “commonwealth of nations” or of peoples. From almost any aspect the peoples of East Asia are closer, more akin, to the Japanese than a Hindu or a Hottentot to the English. A Korean peer would never have to worry about a color line. Given one-tenth of the British conscience, the Japanese empire might have become one of the most homogeneous, compact, and prosperous federations of peoples in history. In the face of what actually developed, one finds it even harder to forgive Japanese stupidity than Japanese brutality.


26th January 1945

Today I heard an amusing and pointed story about two of the Filipino cadets in the local military academy, boys chosen after rigid and meticulous tests that probed not only their technical qualifications but also their friendliness toward Japan. It seems that these two got into a quarrel. They argued heatedly, exchanging insults that gradually grew more and more bitter, but not yet coming to blows. They investigated each other’s maternity, anatomy, and personal habits without undue violence. Finally one of them lost his head.

“You Jap!” he shouted.

“You can’t call me that,” the other sprang up, fists in the air. They didn’t speak to each other for a week.

The discussions in the budget committee centered on the rice problem yesterday, in reply to a question put by Mr. Nobufusa Miyoshi, the minister of agriculture and commerce said: “We are coping with the situation with the determination of absolutely not changing the basic quota of 2.3 go (per person per day). We wish absolutely not to lower this figure even for the future. The ration is roughly equivalent to 350 grams.

The question was raised, notes the Mainichi, because of the rumor that the quota would be altered. “Because of the aggravation of the war situation and the shortage of bottoms,” the paper goes on to explain, “the shipment of rice produced in Taiwan and other colonies cannot be hoped for. To cope with this situation the ministry sometime ago decided to raise enough food within the country for the consumption of the people in. 1945.” For this purpose the government has imposed quotas aimed at the cultivation of almost two million chobu of land and the production of 30 million koku of barley and wheat to supplement the rice crop.

To be really happy however the Japanese need more than food; they want a hot bath. Before the war every Japanese house had its wooden tub, built in over a furnace. Now the little chimneys are clogged and rusty; there is just enough charcoal, perhaps not even enough, for the daily cooking and the hand’s-size brazier in the main room. So the Japanese have being going to the public baths, so many of them that our neighbor says he once stuck his leg into the crowded pool and could neither take it out again nor get in after it. Today the Tokyo metropolitan police board announced that it has taken up a suggestion made in the letter-columns of the press. To relieve congestion the partitions separating the men from the women in the public bath-houses will be taken down. Instead men and women will take baths on different days, alterna­ting in the use of the whole house. The water will still be stale, dirty, greasy with the soaking bodies of all the neighbors and their families, but it will be tolerably hot and there may be room to stretch one arm.


18th — 20th January 1945

Four Japanese Catholic nuns called. They had a small cake baked for us by their Mother Superior. The icing represented the Philippine and Japanese flags. One of the nuns apologized because they had been compelled to make the cake without sugar, butter, or baking powder. Another, who had been in the Philippines, wistfully rehearsed her scant Tagalog and afterward insisted on borrowing a new textbook, Tagalog-Nippongo, brought out a few months ago by one of the Filipinos in Japan. She talked cheerfully of going back to the Philippines which, it seemed, she had grown to love. How shall one make them understand that no Japanese will ever be able to step on Filipino soil for the next generation without running the risk of being torn limb from limb?

Eddie Vargas returned to Tokyo today. All civilian communications to the Philippines have been suspended. When he landed in Taiwan, he said, the airport was still littered with the wreckage of about 70 planes. The planes taking off for the Philippines the next three days had been all shot down and finally he had been forced to give up the trip. On Taiwan he had been constantly shadowed by kempei. He was frisked once after coming from church. One particular kempei, apparently because he did not know anything else in English, kept asking his name. He barely resisted the temptation of giving a different one every time. The kempei in Fukuoka on the mainland proved to be more amenable. Eddie gave him some Taiwan candy every time he wanted to ask questions.

One of our students in Japan, a former guerrilla in the Philippines, shared some of his experiences with me when he called. One youngster in his outfit had cold-bloodedly shot down a town treasurer, in full view of his daughters, purely because the man was making himself unpleasant by too much whining on the way to their hideout where he was wanted for questioning. Another, after a raid on an occupied town, wanted to go back because he had not had a chance to kill his first man. A third, who used to go hunting cows with a heavy machine-gun, finally ended up by betting his coming bonus on the possibility that his revolver, after the half-loaded roller had been twirled, would not go off. He put the gun to his head and it did go off. The young are bloodthirsty, I thought. Possibly they do not know the value of human life.

It was the same student who told me with some relish that since the total blackouts began to be enforced, increasing numbers of women had been found dead in the sidewalk shelters in Tokyo and Yokohama. They had been raped and robbed. When he told me about it, I could not tell whether he was happy because they were Japanese or shocked because they were women. His eyes would fill and deepen and then a teasing, calculating smile would light up his smooth unlined baby’s face.

I have often wondered about Danny. He was in his teens when the war broke out (I think he still is). His father, whom he loves and respects more than any other man, works with the Japanese; he went out to kill them. They did it for the same reason; the independence of our country and the welfare of our people. Was one right and the other wrong; must one and one alone be right and other wrong; or are these shining phrases mere words, habitual disguises for the individual instinct and choice?

Danny was caught, thrown into a dungeon, tortured perhaps, then released on an amnesty (it was the emperor’s birthday). Then he came to Japan as a government scholar. Why? I have never asked him. But I have gathered from loose ends in our conversations and from the stories of his friends, that he wanted to “give the Japs a chance”. Perhaps they meant what they said; perhaps they had something worth learning and working over: a code of honor (even before the war bushido was a good word in the Philippines), the ideal of Pan-Asianism (Asia for the Asiatics, the Philippines for the Filipinos).

But it hasn’t worked out. Danny is too much of an American or too much of a Filipino or too much of both. He thinks in English (although he never could spell), he loves the boogie, he is used to asking questions and getting answers instead of a slap in the face. He hasn’t touched his books in Japan; he wanted to study architecture and they put him in an engineering school; he says he will not be “broken” by the drill sergeants who pass themselves off as teachers.

Now he spends his days making love to Niseis, collecting “military information” for future use, writing poetry, not love poetry as one would expect but “native land” poetry and “peace” poetry and “humanity” poetry in the vein of the “brotherhood of man”. For he has not forsworn Orientalism; he has cut it up and spread it out; he talks of the U.S.S.P., the United States of the Southwest Pacific, and of the “Sepia Federation” which will unite all the Malays; he talks also of writing a book on peace and how it can be found and kept.

One can see that he is no longer bloodthirsty; he can afford to talk tolerantly when he tells his stories of guerrilla murders and raids. He no longer hates the Japanese; he has lived here too long. He only despises them with a contempt that is softened with pity; “These people are crazy. They don’t know what’s good for them. But by God, a few more bombs will l’arn them.” What will his comrades in the guerrilla bands think of him now? Will they think he has gone soft, that he has betrayed them, that he has gone over to the enemy? Or will there be one among them who will comprehend something of the tortured indecision that eats at the secret heart and shakes the brooding soul of every man cursed with understanding, tolerance, and a sense of the kinship of all men?


9th January 1945

Eddie Vargas called up today by long-distance from Taiwan; he is stranded there. All civilian air travel to the Philippines has been suspended. We are now definitely cut off from home; no more couriers, no more letters, even telegrams will be difficult unless they are official and urgent.

As the situation deteriorates, the press is allowed to say more and more, are they learning to let the people down slowly? Or are the authorities trying to frighten the people of Tokyo out of the threatened capital? Now the vernaculars are saying, that the Americans have more ships in the Philippines than the Japanese have planes. So much for the “one ship, one plane” strategy.

The Asahi also carries a “special today from Manila bemoaning the fact that the Japanese could have “annihilated” the American convoy off Mindoro on the 15th December if they had had enough planes. It was, the paper said, “a serious mortification”.

But the people of Tokyo are still looking at the war as something fantastic and far-away. They are now amusing themselves with the report that the Americans are having to fall back on “artificial earthquake” plans to destroy Japan’s main cities. And when there was a full-scale air alarm this noon, there was no one in the basement, which is supposed to be the apartment air-raid shelter.

Instead our French neighbor, Yvonne, who ran away from Paris to escape the war, came rushing in, wringing her hands. She had come back from her apartment to find the gas sealed. She looked terribly thin and anxious; she brought us a present of four eggs and asked for the loan of our gas stove. “Life is so complicated,” she wailed in the way she has of repeating her English lover’s clichés. “They only do it because I’m French.” But in some respect it is her own fault. She had been warned about the limitations on the consumption of gas but she had kept her stove burning practically the whole day for days on end “to heat the apartment” and “because I drink a lot of tea”.

Of course about 70 sen worth of gas (the official limit for one person for one month) is not much but they will probably cut off her gas for the time equivalent to her excess consumption.

Poor Yvonne, life will be so much more complicated without tea.


5th January 1945

Koisos statement at the initial cabinet meeting this year is full of those circumlocutions and euphemisms that the Japanese love. “I wish to make this year a year of war victory,” he began, “but the war situation is very acute. We have won unprecedented victories in the battles off Taiwan and the Philippines but our navy has suffered losses and consumption which were not necessarily small. Subsequently both the army and the navy have been blocking the advance of the enemy through the activities of the special attack corps but the war situation on Leyte Island is not necessarily favorable to us.” The balance of “buts” is delightful. The Japanese have been told with delicate and classic subtlety that they are winning all the battles but losing the war — or rather, not necessarily winning it.