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20th February 1945

The following story sounds a little fantastic but anyway it seems that when a Tokyo streetcar passed in front of the imperial palace and the conductor called for the customary reverence, one of the passengers clasped his hands and cried out:

“O Tenno, save your people, have mercy on your people!” Half of the passengers in the crowded tram snickered or laughed out loud. The others didn’t dare.

Our apartment, neighbor brought our bread and cigarette rations himself today. The apartment employees in charge of our rations have threatened to quit if they have to continue delivering the stuff to every individual apartment. From now on a representative of every floor will call at the downstairs office and distribute the rations to his neighbors. Still it will be more convenient than lining up for every item at the neighborhood distribution centers. On behalf of his German friends, our neighbor was also trying to work up an organized protest against the present light controls in the apartment house. Every time even a precautionary alarm is sounded the apartment management pulls the main switch and plunges everyone into total darkness. Apart from the fact that it makes both work and entertainment impossible, sometimes for hours on end, it is exasperating because it seems so unnecessary. No other building in Tokyo does it; the usual shaded lights and leak-proof black curtains are sufficient for the purposes of the law. But the neighborhood association officials in the apartment house have proved obdurate against all reason; no amount of promises that the most rigid, precautions against leakage would be taken have been able to move them. And so we will continue to grope in total darkness or go to bed everytime even one plane approaches Tokyo. Behind it all is panic; the apartment house is a landmark on Kudan hill and the military offices nearby feel extremely uneasy. Also, a certain amount of class prejudice has entered the picture: the neighbors have a grudge against the “aristocrats” in the luxury apartments that tower above their houses.

Before he left our neighbor told some entertaining stories about his boys. Both tend to disappear during air-raids. One day he found them on the exposed roof, calmly drawing a bead on a B-29 with their toy machinegun.