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14th March 1945

The stories in this mountain village of Miyanoshita about the great raid on Tokyo are vastly exaggerated. Distance has multiplied all figures and one old man, whose house we asked to rent, wanted to know if it was true that the Americans were using a new type of bomb which blinded its victims. Meantime the Yomiuri today told another story of the raid. The translation it read:

“In the wake of the air-raid dawn came. Dense smoke still rose from the devastated scene near the Nihonbashi. Here, near the bridge, an old woman lay prostrate on the ground. At a glance one could see that she was an air-raid victim. She had nothing but the clothes she wore. She sat quietly, almost motionless. Afraid that she had been injured, members of an air-raid defense unit approached her. When they shook her by the shoulder, the old woman raised a face smeared black with soot but surprisingly calm and solemn.

“‘Are you hurt?’ they asked her.

“‘No,’ she answered. And then in her turn she asked: ‘How is the imperial palace?’

“For a moment they were taken aback. Then they drew themselves up. ‘The imperial palaca is safe.’

“Hearing this, the old woman visibly recovered her strength. ‘Really? I was so anxious about it that I was praying for its safety until you came.’ Thereupon she prostrated herself once more and with her face on the ground gave thanks that the palace was safe.”

It will take more than this pretty story however to make the people forget their troubles. The tobacco ration has been cut to three cigarettes per day. Newspapers have been cut down to one per prefecture. The Mainichi says bluntly this morning: “The people are now experiencing hardships beyond description. Among the victims of the recent air-raid there are many who have reached such a desolate that they cannot stand being told that henceforth they will suffer even greater hardships.” The Yomiuri in turn demands more concrete bulletins on air-raid damages in order to counteract exaggerated rumors and to secure the sympathy of the people in the countryside for evacuees from Tokyo.