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.”


11th August 1945

I sneaked up to Gora today to see how the Soviet diplomats were getting along._The village itself was quiet; the streets were almost deserted; the front yard of the hotel where the Russians have been interned was silent and empty; there was not a policeman in sight. The Hakone mountains had never seemed so far away from the war.

Then after lunch the Burmese military attache abruptly told us that Japan had sued for peace. We could not believe the news. And when San Francisco confirmed it, hour after hour, we subconsciously protected ourselves from disillusion by worrying over the condition attached by the Japanese government, namely, that the prerogatives of the emperor as sovereign would not be impaired. would the Americans reject the condition as against the Potsdam declaration? On the other hand, would the Japanese sacrifice their emperor for peace? Once again we tugged and pulled at the puzzle, with the exasperated feeling that the answer was already known.

The Burmese military attache thought that perhaps the Japanese had purposely put a condition that would at the same time appear reasonable and yet be unacceptable in order to solidify public opinion at home and divide it abroad. The suggestion did not sound far-fetched. The emperor was eminently the one condition on which the Japanese could agree, the one condition for which they would all be ready to perish. He was also one condition which could be calculated to divide the Americans who believed so passionately in leaving other people alone to choose their own form of government. What a masterful intrigue if it were true!

But the new bomb floated ominously over these intricate and subtle calculations; what did the cunning of diplomatists and the fanaticism of peasants avail against this imponderable atom dangling from its parachute? While the air crackled with its secret offers, the vernaculars published today the first eyewitness accounts of Hiroshima. The Yomiuri, which also noted briefly that another “new-type bomb” (in the singular) had been dropped on Nagasaki on the 9th, carried the following description by one of its correspondents:

“On the morning of the 8th August I entered the suburbs of Hiroshima in a truck with a group of civilian defense corps members from the city of Kaidaichi… All buildings on the ground had been razed and turned into heaps of debris. All the trees along the road, which once must have had an abundance of green leaves on their branches, were burnt black, bare to the trunk. The city had been turned into such a ruin that we covered our eyes….

“Judging from what I have been told by some of the inhabitants, the bomb may be a sort of high-heat flash-bomb which explodes with strong power and simultaneously emits a high~heat flash. One of the eye-witnesses of the explosion, Ai Miyano, told me: “when I heard the droning sound of an enemy plane I went outside and looked up. I noticed a black object falling lightly through the air. At this moment a red-and-blue flash struck me, causing  me to feel as if I had been burnt by a blast of extreme heat. I grew dizzy.”

“According to others, the enemy plane was seen over the city but it was gone at the time of the explosion. This shows that the new bomb, after being dropped, apparently continues to float in the air until the plane which had dropped it gets outside the range of the explosion….

“Many of the people killed were buried under the falling houses; those who were in the open were burnt by the heat. Only those who sought shelter in air-raid-defense trenches were saved.”

The Times in turn quoted today another eye-witness, Seiichi Miyata of Higashiku, Osaka, who was in Hiroshima at the time of the attack. “When the enemy super-forts appeared over the city,” recalled Miyata, “I was at an hotel some kilometers from the central section. First I heard the faint roar of a plane flying at a high altitude. I went to one of the windows facing south and a friend of mine went to the opposite side. In the meantime the roar of the plane had ceased. Then suddenly a dazzling flash came, as bright as a photographer’s flare covering the whole area. when, in no time, I felt a hot pressure, immediately followed by a deafening detonation. My friend and I rushed into the room and flung ourselves flat on the floor. My friend suffered a burn in the corner of one eye. Fortunately I myself escaped injury.

“Looking around I saw the bedding, that had been put out to dry, torn to bits. Flecks of cotton from the mattresses and quilts were lying about the room. All the glass windows and paper sliding-doors were scattered over the place.

“Later, walking around the streets, I saw that most of the wooden buildings had been demolished, the glass windows of concrete structures smashed, and furniture hurled here and there. At a certain national school, the children, who had been doing physical exercises in the open without much clothes on, suffered severe burns The skin had been torn off and they were in agony although the scorched parts were not bleeding much. some were covered with blisters. Most of the city residents near the area where the bomb was dropped suffered more from burns than from wounds.

“Solid wooden buildings, such as shrines, temples, and hotels, remained intact and those who quickly took shelter in them as soon as they saw the flash, escaped injury. Considering this, it is apparent that speedy action in taking shelter is absolutely necessary…. The effect of the new-type bombs is not so absolute as generally imagined.”

Presumably on the basis of these first-hand experiences the air defense headquarters has issued further instructions on how to deal with the new bomb. There is a frantic reiteration about them that borders on hysteria.

“1. It is very effective to seek safety in an air-raid shelter. It is necessary to repair and strengthen shelters which are covered.

“2. In regard to dress, one should expose as little of the body as possible. Otherwise one will suffer burns.

“3. The use of an air-raid-defense hood and gloves will prevent burns in the head, face, and hands.

“4. If there is no time to seek safety in an air-raid-defense shelter or if there is none in the neighborhood, one should lie flat on the ground or utilize a solid building for protection. But it is important to seek safety in an outside shelter.

“5. If the above points are remembered together with thos -previously announced, the new-type bomb will not prove to be so powerful.”

Meantime the Japanese government has filed a protest against the use of the bomb. The note was sent through the Swiss yesterday. Possibly it is important for the record. At any rate the Japanese can get from it their first accurate idea of the new bomb.

“On the 6th of August,” reads the note, “an American plane dropped a new-type bomb in the city area of Hiroshima and instantly killed and wounded many citizens and destroyed a major portion of the city. The city of Hiroshima is a common ordinary urban community without any particular military defense facilities and, as a whole, does not possess any characteristics which can be called military objectives.

“By the actual damage done, the area which has been hit extends widely. The persons within that area were killed or wounded by the vacuum caused by _____ and the heat radiating from the bombs, whether they were combatants or non-combatants, men or women, old or young. The scope of the  damage done was general as well as great. Moreover, judging from the individual cases of injury, it was unprecedentedly cruel.

“A combatant has no right to use indiscriminately means of doing harm to the enemy. He ought not to use weapons, missiles, or other substances which will give pain to others unnecessarily. These are the fundamental principles of international law. This is the reason why these principles are set forth in Articles 22 and 23 of the regulations concerning laws and customs of land fighting in the document attached to the treaty concerning such laws and customs.

“The American government has stated on more than one occasion since the outbreak of the war that as the use of poison gas or of any inhuman means of warfare is regarded as illegitimate by public opinion in civilized society, it would not use these means unless the other party did the same. The bomb which has been used by America is far more inhuman than poison gas and other weapons whose use is prohibited because they cause harm indiscriminately and because they are cruel.

“America, in disregard of international law and the fundamental principles of humanity, has bombed various cities and towns over a wide area in Japan, and has killed numerous old persons, children, and women. It has demolished and burned shrines, temples, school buildings, hospitals, and houses in general. It has now committed a sin against the culture of the human race by using a bomb which harms more indiscriminately and is more cruel than any weapon  or missile which has been used in the past.

“The Japanese government, in its own name and in the name of the entire human race and of civilization, hereby accuses the American government. At the same time it demands strongly that America refrain from using such inhuman weapons.”

So far the official note. Yesterday the Times accented the protest with unofficial rhetoric. Hiroshima was “no mere excess committed in the heat of battle. It was an act of premeditated wholesale murder.” It was not even murder; it was pure nihilism“, “a crime against God and humanity which strikes at the very basis of moral existence.”

“What more barbarous atrocity can there be than to wipe out at one stroke the population of a whole city without distinction –men, women, and children; the aged, the weak, the infirm; those in positions of authority and those with no power at all; all snuffed out without being given a chance of lifting even a finger in either defense or defiance! The United States may claim… that a policy of utter annihilation is necessitated by Japan’s failure to heed the recent demand for unconditional surrender,” concluded the Times, “but the question of surrendering or not surrendering certainly can have not the slightest relevance to the question of whether it is justifiable to use a method which, under any circumstance, is strictly condemned alike by the principles of international law and of morality.”

Aside from the obvious relish with which the Japanese, standing at last on sure ground, pay back the Americans with their own coin or atrocity charge and moral indignation, the note and the editorial raise a legitimate point. But it is a point as old as war itself, as old as the question of the end justifying the means.

How much does victory justify? Whatever the moralists and the lawyers may say, the brutal fact, of course, is that victory justifies anything. That may not be a moral fact but it is a psychological fact. The Japanese warlords know it as well as any other soldier; if they had discovered the “atomic” bomb, they would not have hesitated to use it in spite of any Article 22 or Article 23. This has been true since men first started killing one another; the ultimate consideration was kill or be killed. Modern wars have been increasingly more horrible not because human nature has grown more corrupt and callous but only because human ingenuity has conceived and fashioned more terrible weapons. He who can, does; he who cannot, dies.

All the fine distinctions and delicate scruples of theologians are swept away by that awful compulsion. The Americans, who recoiled in horror from the bombing of London, were just as ruthless in wiping out Berlin, Hamburg, and a hundred other cities in Germany; when it came to saving the life of one American soldier, what did a hundred thousand krauts matter? The winners are decorated, the losers are shot as war-criminals. Slaughter by your side is military necessity; slaughter by the other side is an atrocity, “inhuman”, “unjustifiable”, “a crime against God.”

The truth is that war itself is an atrocity. War produces only gradations of atrocity. Is a blockade, strangling an entire people in slow death by starvation, any less “indiscriminate” than pattern~bombing or “atomic” disintegration? Does a jagged scrap of bomb-casing, tearing through the intestines, cause less “unnecessary” pain than a blast of heat that tears off the skin? If their condition for peace is rejected, the Japanese warlords will hurl their people into national suicide. Will this be less “cruel” or more “justifiable” than national murder?


10th August 1945

The Soviet declaration of war has thrown this diplomatic hideout into a turmoil even louder and more confused than the new bomb. Even those who doubted the persuasive powers of the atom have thrown up their hands. Nobody seems to doubt now that Japan is doomed. The only questions are when and how. Will it be in a week or by spring? Will Japan surrender formally or will she commit national suicide? when these questions are finally answered by events, the solution will appear inevitable; it will seem to those who look back that they should have seen it all the time, that the signs were always there for anyone to read. But now we are still in the forest; there are cryptic marks blazed on the tree-trunks, footprints losing themselves in a tangled thicket, wild unintelligible cries that call to the unseen.

Puzzled and uncertain about the future, we can only look  back a little distance along the way we have already come. The diplomats especially, the professionals of power politics, feel easier when they can rake over the dead leaves of mistakes that do not matter any more. Look here, if the Japanese had not forded this river here or if they had gone forward along that valley… A German diplomat insisted on explaining to me where Japan had made a fatal error about the Soviets. If the Japanese, he argued, had accepted the German proposal to join the war against the U.S.S.R. in 1940, the fate of the Axis would have been different. Now Japan had to fight the Anglo-Americans and the Soviets singlehanded as Germany had done and where was that precious non-aggression pact now?

Then a Japanese diplomat took me aside. “The Germans blame us,” he complained, “for attacking the U.S.A. and bringing the Americans into the war. But we are more inclined to blame the Germans for attacking the U.S.S.R. The trouble with the Germans is that they have always been obsessed by fear of Russia.” He sighed and concluded: “Basically the trouble with the Axis was that Japan and Germany could not agree on the enemy.”

In this angry exchange of recriminations nobody seemed to remember the Japanese people who, after all, would perhaps have a say on the matter. All the newspapers had carried in full the Soviet declaration of war with its bland revelation that the Japanese government had actually asked for Soviet mediation in the war.

How were the people taking this hint that the imperial land might  be conquered after all, that the Son of Heaven might sue for peace? There was the impact of an “atomic” bomb in the suggestion. For that was all the Japanese had left now: their blind faith in an unconquerable divine destiny, one last faithful ally against the world, one last cave in an earth laid desolate, an old familiar blanket against the cataclysmic flame of a new age.

Stories began to be told in that chattering circle of foreigners. They were cruel sardonic stories, the type of stories that foreigners always tell about the countries they happen to live in, the type of stories that white men in particular like to tell about “natives”. But through the air of amused superiority, tinged with a resentful uneasiness, I could not help but see a strangely appealing picture of this odd fairy-book people, these shabby clumsy and withal gallant peasants with their fantastic readiness to die for a legend, a romantic lie. For that is what the stories told.

Last night, after the news of the Soviet entry into the war, the manager of the diplomatic dry-good store in the village came roaring into the hotel. He was fighting drunk, this small rather conceited corrupt merchant, He and 30 million other Japanese, he cried, were ready to die rather than see Japan surrender. If the worst came to the worst, he wept, he would kill his wife, his children, his neighbors, and any foreigner, any bloody foreigner, who happened to be around. And then he would cut himself open. They all laughed at him and he went to sleep; somehow it was comic to imagine him with his entrails spilling over his shoddy pearls and fake curios.

Earlier a maker of tofu (bean-curd) had been teaching a foreigner how to make charcoal. They got to talking about the new-type bomb and the foreigner asked him what he thought of it. He was a slow conscientious worker and he did not stop puttering about the fire. What was he to say? Well, he decided finally, it was like this. He was an expert maker of tofu. Many foreigners had asked him to teach them the secret of the process. Not all the professors across the seas had ever succeeded in solving it. Now, if these foreigners could not even make tofu, how could they make a bomb that was better than the ones the Japanese make?

There was a visiting manicurist in the hotel, a devout and chatty old woman who had gone to pay her respects before the emperor’s palace every day of her life that she had been in Tokyo.

What did she think, somebody had asked her. would Japan be defeated? She did not think it possible. But the Americans had a new and terrible bomb, the Russians had entered the war, the Japanese where fighting the whole world. Even then, she insisted. The Tenno was divine and he would not abandon his people. Her faith was not so noisy or belligerent but would she be any more eager for surrender? In the face of this determined romanticism, our hopes of the night before for a quick peace, a formal surrender, seemed to shrink and shrivel up.


9th August 1945

As San Francisco announced that the second “atomic” bomb had been dropped on Nagasaki shortly before noon, the vernaculars started to open up a little on the subject. It seems that “the authorities of the various government departments concerned have dispatched officials to the scene of destruction.” “According to a survey made, the new-type bomb drops toward the ground with a parachute and issues a strong light when the bomb is about 500 to 600 meters above the ground and then explodes. Simultaneous with the explosion, a large detonation is heard and a strong blast and strong heat accompany it.”

“Full caution,” warns the Asahi, “is considered necessary but it is pointed out that in case or a new-type weapon, its effects are usually exaggerated. For instance, when the V-1 made its appearance, considerable confusion and disturbance were Witnessed in England before counter-measures were devised. Upon completion of the counter-measures, the composure of the people returned.”

What counter-measures were contemplated against this “new-type” bomb?The Asahi also published a statement of the air-defense headquarters giving directions as to the methods of defense against it:

“If attention is paid to the following points, damage will be restricted to a minimum. Since they are effective measures, all persons are called upon to obey them without fail:

“1. Don’t be off-guard even if the enemy aircraft happens to be only one plane. When a large-size enemy plane comes near, it is better to seek safety even if it is only one.

“2. In seeking safety, it will be effective to escape into air-defense shelters. It is taboo to be outside the house without purpose. Safety must be sought in shelters.

“3. In seeking safety in shelters, one should take care to choose a shelter which has a covering. In case it happens to be without a covering, one should protect one’s self with a blanket or a mattress.

“4. If one is outside the house or shelter, one is likely to suffer burns. Accordingly one should expose as little of the body as possible. A summer suit usually exposes much of the body  but in coping with the new type bomb the hands and legs must be given full protection.

“Fires occurred in many of the houses that collapsed and in seeking safety out of the house, one should not forget to extinguish fires in the kitchen or elsewhere.”

There is almost a touch of the sinister in this stupidity. Get into a trench and pull a blanket over your head — but don’t forget to put out the fire in the kitchen! It is impossible to believe that air defense headquarters really thinks a blanket and possibly a pair of gloves can ward off the gigantic flame that dissolves an entire city. It is more reasonable to see in these “directions” a deliberate attempt to assuage the alarm of the people; if that is all that is needed, then the new~type bomb is just a bigger incendiary which burns people as well as houses. There is authentic art in that artless reminder not to forget the kitchen fire.

How long will the Japanese continue to believe it? When they learn the horrible truth, will they rise at last to cry enough or will there be anyone left to rise?
And yet, what could the authorities have said? What defense is there against this new “atomic” bomb? Tonight we were discussing heatedly the relative protection afforded by a swimming pool and a deep cave. But what was there to say? We did not even know whether the bomb killed by heat, by concussion, by radioactive radiations, by gas, or by some other terrifying mystery of dissolution. A blanket over the head seemed just as good as anything else.

Then just before dinner some of the evacuated Japanese school-children in the village ran up to a Burmese cadet with whom they had made friends. They were laughing with excitement. There was a new war. The radio, they said, had announced at five that afternoon that Soviet Russia had declared war on Japan. We flicked on the short-wave radio. San Francisco confirmed it.

Somebody laughed. “We won’t have to worry about that new bomb anymore. It’s all finished.”


6th August 1945

After leading off its Potsdam story two days ago with the observation that the Big Three “failed to produce anything that has direct bearing on the war in the Pacific”, the Times today front pages the British foreign office statement on the war against Japan, including the official comment that “it is impossible to draw the inference from the communique that Russia will not enter the war against Japan.” It is the first time I have seen it openly and directly admitted in the Japanese press; so far editorialists have talked obliquely of “chance of attitude”.


6th May 1945

There was quite a heavy downpour today. A French brother laughed after Mass: “It’s a hailstorm. But now it is no longer Heil Hitler but Hail Columbia.” Coming down afterward from Gora to Miyanoshita on the electric tram I noticed, that there were two cars instead of the usual one. The First was packed to the doors; the other, completely empty except for two Soviet diplomats. The Japanese police are now so suspicious of them that they will no longer allow them in the same cars with the rest of us.


10th April 1945

Shigenori Togo was appointed minister for foreign and Greater East Asia affairs yesterday. Shigemitsu could not stay after the Soviet disaster. Togo, who has a German wife, was foreign minister under Tozyo when the war broke out. He left the Gaimusho in a huff when the Greater East Asia countries were taken out of his jurisdiction and placed under the new Daitoasho. As ambassador to the U.S.S.R. at the time the explosive border incidents were barely blanketed out, he is now being built up as a Soviet expert. Indeed relations with the U.S.S.R. now take precedence over all other foreign affairs in Japan. Shigemitsu, the China expert and Daitoa exponent, has been shoved out by events. There is now little talk of a second Daitoa conference like the one in November 1943. Premier Aphaiwongse of Thailand was scheduled to come to Tokyo this month but the Okinawa operations seem to have postponed his visit indefinitely. If it had gone through, a conference of Daitoa heads of state would have brought together three new members, the Tai premier, the Chinese president, and Koiso himself. Now it is more probable that, as a feeble gesture against San Francisco, a conference of Daitoa ambassadors may be called this month. But the feeling is general that neither China nor Daitoa will decide Japan’s fate so much as the U.S.S.R. Shigemitsu is now being criticized as having been too “steady”; Togo is expected to be more “positive”. What that may imply is obscure. At any rate, to complete press comments on the soviet notice of abrogation, the Asahi, possibly because it had more time, possibly because official inspiration has become more acute since the change in the foreign ministry, came out today with the best editorial on the subject.

“Of course,” says the Asahi after sketching the facts, “there is not the slightest doubt that the current notice served by the Soviet Union is a perfectly legal measure based on the stipulations of the treaty itself. But what we regret is the fact that recently the Soviet Union, perhaps from a military viewpoint in connection with the shifting war situation, perhaps from a political viewpoint in connection with her relations vis-a-vis America and Britain, has corrected her previous friendly attitude toward Japan and that eventually she has resorted to such measures as may seem to betray the trust and friendship of the Japanese people. Since the speech of Premier Stalin on Revolution Day last year up to the Crimea conference, a conspicuous change in the Soviet Union’s attitude toward Japan could be recognized. “But this”, emphasized the Asahi, “was not because of a fundamental change in the relations between the two countries but merely on account of a change in the subjective attitude of the Soviet Union herself.” After pointing out the advantages derived by the U.S.S.R. from the pact in its darkest days, and dangling the usual invitation to renew it, the Asahi concludes: “How the Soviet Union will act hereafter is entirely up to the free will of the Soviet Union. However we should truly like to know whether the Soviet Union intends to become a collaborator in the construction of East Asia or an enemy of it.” The Asahi’s editorial has one merit: it recognizes the initiative of the U.S.S.R. and the trend it has taken against Japan.


8th April 1945

After she first flurry over the cabinet change the press has had time to take up an even more significant development, the Soviet notice of abrogation of the non-aggression pact.

The Times, in its role of unofficial spokesman for the foreign office, is grimly optimistic in an editorial entitled “Neutrality: Pact and Fact”. “A formal document like a neutrality pact,” it argues, “does not of itself constitute an activating determinative of neutrality; rather it is the existence of the fact of neutrality which may give rise to such a legal instrument as a neutrality pact as its formal manifestation. With or without such a pact, Japan’s consistent policy of striving for neutrality and amity with all neighboring countries… is too thoroughly grounded in the nation’s inherent fundamental character to admit of any fluctuation. Hence neutrality will be preserved.” But the Times conclude with feeble menace: “Fully alive to the rapidly developing situation in Europe, however, Japan, in keeping with its consistently maintained policy, is fully prepared to cope with any eventuality in the international situation.”

The thesis of the Times is undoubtedly sound and even classic. Treaties do not make situations; it is situations that make treaties. But its hopeful conclusion that Japan can control the situation and preserve neutrality because she wants neutrality is only the worse half of the story. Soviet Russia now wields the initiative and it is Soviet policy that will enforce or destroy neutrality.

The Yomiuri is even more naive. In its editorial yesterday it invited Soviet Russia to step into Nazi Germany’s shoes. “The core of Nippon-Soviet relations” it insinuated blandly, was the fact that the “Soviet Union, which fights in Europe, wants to rebuild Europe and desires to establish there an unshakable national foundation” while “our country, which wants to eliminate the evil hands of exploitation from the lands of East Asia, aims to contribute toward the establishment of eternal world peace on the basis of the stabilization of greater East Asia.”

Once more the thesis is plausible, as plausible as it was in support of the axis with Hitler’s Germany. Japan, like Stalin’s Russia, seeks security in regional hegemony and there is consequently “no great difference in the ultimate aims and world outlook” of both. But once again the thesis stops short of the decisive reality. Japan and the U.S.S.R., unlike Japan and the Third Reich, are neighbors and by themselves threaten each other’s security.

The Mainichi is less tortuous. It is frankly resentful. The anomalous situation which the U.S.S.R. gave as the reason for abrogation “is nothing new”, it complains. “It has been in existence since more than three years ago. Yet throughout the subsequent extremely complicated international situation, our nation has most scrupulously observed the spirit and provisions of the treaty to the letter…. In spite of that… and based on its own will alone, the Soviet government has told us that the neutrality pact will no longer be effective upon its expiration…. Be that as it may,” concludes the Mainichi petulantly. “We do not ask what soviet Russia has up tor sleeve, what sort of tangled affairs there are between Nippon and Soviet Russia, how Soviet Russia is going to solve them, and what kind of measures she has broached to Nippon for their solution. We only wish to clarify our attitude at this opportunity. That is “concludes the Mainichi weakly, “there is no change at all in our desire that friendly Nippon-Soviet relations and the peace of East Asia be maintained during the next one year during which the Nippon-Soviet neutrality treaty remains valid.”

The Japanese are frightened, sorry that they did not scrap the pact when the U.S.S.R. needed it more than Japan, desperately anxious to postpone the inevitable. And the Soviets know it.

An Italian diplomat pointed out to me a curious thing. In Russia’s bad days in 1942 the Soviet diplomats in Japan went slinking in the streets, shabby and with heads hanging. Now all the men are flashily dresses; they walk arrogantly, twirling canes; and all their women wear hats (which nobody else does in Japan). I suppose they deserve it.

A Chinese diplomat told me that one must now pay 6,000 yen to hire a truck one way from Tokyo to Karuizawa; 3,000 yen from Tokyo to Miyanoshita (two hours and a half by train).

In the Fujiya lobby I found another Italian diplomat absorbed in a volume of the Encyclopedia Britannica.

“What are you looking up?” I asked.

“Matches. I can’t get any and I want to see if I can make them myself.”


22nd of February 1945

After all the build-up of Hirose as chief secretary of the Koiso cabinet, he has now been shuffled out. Yesterday the government underwent another reorganization with the finance minister Ishiwata taking Hirose’s place, and a new finance minister appointed, Juichi Tsushima, president of the North China Development Company. This time press comments have been neither more cautious. Tsushima, says the Asahi, “is a man of versatile disposition and he has the tact and ability to get on well with anyone. On the other hand he is too absorbed in routine and has the defect of being lacking in power. “Several times, “recounts the Asahi, “he has been mentioned as a candidate for the portfolio of finance but each time the honor passed to his juniors, such as Kaya, Aoki, and Ishiwata.” His first job, the paper concludes, will be to get rid of his “Tsushima complex”.

There was an unusually heavy snowfall today, lasting throughout the day. Our dinner guest, a Finnish diplomat, arrived late, explaining that an automobile from the provinces had fallen into a repair ditch at a streetcar crossing, blocking the rails for an hour. Characteristically the Japanese stared at the obstruction and exchanged exclamations of dismay for 30 minutes before a streetcar was finally hitched to the automobile to pull it off the tracks, incidentally wrenching it out of shape.

Now that Finland had made peace, he was going home soon, within two weeks, our guest told us. But what was there to go home to? One and a half years ago his girl had wired saying she had grown tired of waiting and breaking off their engagement. His ancestral home had been burnt down, rebuilt, burnt down once again in the course of the two Russian wars and now he could not rebuild it a second time because Viborg, his native city, was now Soviet territory. He would never go back there now; of the half million Finns who had lived in the territories ceded to the Soviets, only three had elected to remain under the rule of Finnland’s ancient enemy. At least, so he said. Finland had reason to be familiar with total war. Every man, woman, and child had been mobilized; the streets were silent and deserted throughout the Finnish land.

But here in Tokyo, he had often told his Japanese friends, there were still thousands upon thousands of able-bodied men jostling one another in the streets. “You could get together one division on any streetcorner of the Ginza,” he exclaimed. But he was bitter only about the Axis which had ruined Finland. All the cooperation between Germany and Japan, he said, “you could put in a small handbag.” “So now we have lost everything,” he mumbled half to himself. He had been in Japan four years. He learned his English, which is surprisingly fluent, in Tokyo — in order to learn Japanese. Now he knew more English than Japanese. I shall remember him as a charming bibulous vigorous man with outbursts of fantastic nonsense. He it was who said that the Russians were “bluffing” in their summer offensive that took them to the shores of the Baltic and just before leaving he said quite seriously that the English had thught the Japanese that Pearl Harbor trick for the war with Russia.