Fixing up the transfer of our rations from the Nonomiya I finally got a concrete idea of what is done for those who have lost their homes in Tokyo air-raids. It went off pretty smoothly in any case. First of all I was given a “consolation offering” from the Kudan 1-chome district association, a crisp new five-yen bill in a cheerful little envelope. Then there was a certificate which testified to the fact that I was a “fire-victim” and which would guarantee special consideration in stores, free rides on streetcars and subways, and free one-way transportation from Tokyo to any point in Japan where I might wish to evacuate. Thirdly, there was an “emergency distribution” certificate entitling me to a special ration of three and one-half kilograms of rice and beans, 100 momme of miso, one go of shoyu, one bundle of charcoal, five bundles of fire-wood, receivable within five days anywhere in Tokyo. I was given the rice by my new neighborhood association in the vicinity of the embassy but there was still neither miso nor shoyu to be had.
Meantime the home minister Odachi has managed to make himself heard. At a plenary session of the more sedate house of peers yesterday be was finally allowed to have his say on air-raid protection measures; he had little enough to reveal except a further “intensification” of the dispersal of population. The government is making “utmost endeavors” to move air-raid victims to the country and put them to work there on munitions or food production. So far only children in the third grade and higher grades have been evacuated to the country in “collective dispersion”; now the government is closing even the lower grades and “advising” parents to move “infants” to the country too, “though not by force”.
Outside official circles stories on the casualties and damage suffered in the last raid continue to spread. The Japanese, it seems to me, tend to exaggerate. They speak of 200-600,000 people killed. What seems to be official information given to the diet in secret session is that since the raids started a total of a million and one-fifth people have been rendered homeless by the destruction of 200-300,000 houses. No reliable figures on casualties have been given.
In our district of Kojimachi, at least, only 11 were killed in the last raid. Three girls were trapped in the basement of a nearby college. One grandfather was forgotten behind when his family-fled. Seven children were burned alive in a concrete dugout under their house. But in the basement of the great kabuki theater, the Meiziya, 250 are said to have died when the building caught fire to rapidly for them to be able to escape. They had taken refuge there fearing explosives but instead incendiaries were dropped.
Another unusual case was that of a panic-stricken crowd that fled to a wooden bridge to escape the flames. The bridge collapsed and few escaped. Among the casualties who deserved individual mention in the papers was a member of the diet who was killed while helping to put out the fire in his neighborhood. An incendiary burst close to him and badly burnt his leg. An artery broke and he died of hemorrhage.