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April 28, 1944 (Friday)

Meet Ambassadors Aquino and Vargas. This p.m. at Miniong Aquino’s place at Gumyoji, Yokohama, met Special Ambassador Aquino and Special Ambassador Vargas. The former dropped in to see Miniong’s wife and the new baby, the Ambassador’s grandson. They stayed about half an hour and had a little chance to talk to them. Miniong’s wife was very happy to hear news from the Special Ambassador that there is a chance for her to return to the Philippines with her baby and husband.

Talk with Director General Osias. Returning back to Tokyo from Yokohama, I dropped in at Director Osias’s quarters at the Imperial Hotel and had a chance to talk to him alone. He gave me a frank exposition of his views and talked of various topics such as the situation in the Philippines, their reception with the Emperor, etc. I expect to see him again tomorrow to help him pack up his things.

Dinner at the Imperial Hotel Grill. Invited by Miniong Aquino, we had a sumptuous dinner at the Imperial Hotel Grill. Not everyone can eat here, but we had a special pass.

Helped Ambassador Aquino and Chief Justice Yulo pack up their baggage at the Imperial Hotel. The packages I sent for the family went with Ambassador Aquino. Letters went via Chief Justice Yulo and Minister Alunan.

His Imperial Majesty, the Emperor of Japan! At the Yoyogi Parade Grounds this afternoon at 2:00 p.m., we had the unique privilege of seeing in person for the first time the august Emperor of Japan on the occasion of Tencho Setsu (Emperor’s Birthday).

We had a special place in the grandstands right behind the place occupied by the personnel of foreign embassies. At about 1:30 p.m., we watched the limousines of “big shots” pass before us to attend this biggest function. We saw embassy cars bearing the flags of various nations, including Ambassador Vargas and Special Ambassador Aquino and their respective suites. It was indeed a great joy to see the Philippines represented at such a big affair among other independent states.

It had just rained heavily, and now the sky began to clear up. Thousands upon thousands of specially invited guests (we had to pass through lines of policemen and military police to show our special admission tickets) thronged the parade grounds, and everyone waited with anxiety for the arrival of the Emperor.

At long last, at 2:00 p.m., the sound of bugles and the ruffle of drums announced the arrival of the imperial limousine. The band started to play the “Kimigayo” [Japanese national anthem], and His Imperial Majesty’s car (maroon and black Rolls Royce) followed by cars bearing the Princes of the Blood appeared heavily escorted on both sides by Imperial Guards. Everybody stood at attention, and in the ominous silence that prevailed we personally saw His Imperial Majesty pass about 20 meters in front of us, acknowledging the salute of everyone.

The grand parade was about to start, and the Emperor mounted his beautiful white charger followed by Premier Tojo, army and navy staff officers, and military attaches of different nations, each wearing his own distinct military uniform. Again we had a chance to see His Imperial Majesty at closer range as he passed before us mounted on his white stallion with all the dignity of a real emperor. (But he just looks like any ordinary Japanese.)

After inspecting the troops assembled on the parade grounds, the “pass in review” started. For nearly two and a half hours the emperor watched his troops march before him. Infantry, artillery, motorized units and cavalry marched in almost interminable columns, as hundreds of planes roared overhead, darkening the skies like thick swarms of flies. It was a veritable display of the military might of Japan! I am sure all foreigners were impressed by this grand military show.

We left the parade grounds happy to have had the unique privilege of seeing the emperor in person.

“Sayonara’ to Ambassador Aquino et al. After the parade, at 4:30 p.m., dropped in at the Imperial Hotel to say good-bye to Speaker Aquino and his suite. Stayed for quite a while at Speaker Aquino’s room and had a chance to talk to him and Minister Alunan. Teresita and Nene Vargas and Maning Laurel were there too. The mission is leaving tomorrow for Manchuria.

Meet General Masaharu Homma. Tonight at 6:30 p.m. General Homma, ex-Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial Forces in the Philippines during the Bataan campaign, visited us at the dormitory and took dinner with us. (Mrs. Okamoto cooked special dishes for the occasion. )

It was indeed a rare privilege to meet our former enemy in Bataan. We never even dreamed that we would be meeting right in Tokyo the Commander-in-Chief of the army which was our bitter enemy at Bataan. During and after dinner we enjoyed talking with the General, and we had a frank and interesting conversation on our war experiences in Bataan. He told us things which confirmed certain stories we heard while in Bataan. For instance, the story that the Division Commander of the Japanese troops fighting General Lim’s 41st Division was the latter’s good friend while in America is true, said General Homma.

I mentioned to the General the fact that all officers in Bataan had received a copy of his letter addressed to General MacArthur urging the latter to surrender. He said no reply was received from General MacArthur. (But I remember having read a copy of the reply of General MacArthur which was also sent to all officers in Bataan.)

The other Japanese officers present during the dinner were surprised to see how intimately we chatted with General Homma on a matter of such great common interest as the war in Bataan. When General Homma laughingly asked us, “I wonder how many Japanese did you kill,” we also laughingly evaded the question.

Before the party broke up, Villarin showed the General a few of his tricks of magic, and the General enjoyed them immensely, especially the one where Villarin made a ten-cent coin disappear in his hand and later fished it out of General Homma’s pocket.

General Homma told us he has a copy of a book recently published in America, I Saw Corregidor Fall written by  [Carlos P.] Romulo. He did not tell us how he got it.

Seeing the Emperor of Japan in person and meeting General Homma at the dormitory was too much for one single day. No wonder I slept so soundly tonight!