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20th March 1945

The train to Odawara was crowded with refugees and so was the neat little tourist tram to Miyanoshita. One young evacuee girl was making friends with the conductor; I overheard him thanking her for some gift or other and offering to help her load more of her baggage on the next trip. There was also a girl attendant on the tram, a youngster still with pigtails on. She tried very hard to be business-like, swinging off briskly at the stops, joshing the other conductors manfully, striding along with her shoulders swinging and her hands in her trousers pockets. Young-Japan — she will never touch her forehead to the floor to bid her lord and master greeting and farewell.

Miyanoshita seemed far away from the war and we could read with a certain detachment that an American task force has been raiding Kyushu since the 18th. The city of Nagoya was also raided shortly after midnight on the 18th by 100-odd B-29’s. Under these circumstances the Japanese will probably fail to be distracted by a new piece of political theater announced by the board of information yesterday. The franchise will be extended in the near future to the peoples of Chosen and Taiwan. Under the new system the people of Chosen will elect 23 members and of Taiwan five members of the lower house in the diet while 10 peers will be appointed from the same regions. “Although the qualifications for suffrage in Chosen and Taiwan will differ slightly from those prevailing in Japan proper,” comments the Times, “the new arrangement means not only a marked increase in the political privileges of the regulation of these newer portions of the empire but it marks further a tremendous step toward complete abolition of all legal and political distinctions among the various peoples of the empire.” The Times did not miss this opportunity to sneer at the “exploitation” and “racial discrimination” in the British empire. And indeed, as between the British empire and the Japanese empire, surely Japan, had the better starting chance of building a true “commonwealth of nations” or of peoples. From almost any aspect the peoples of East Asia are closer, more akin, to the Japanese than a Hindu or a Hottentot to the English. A Korean peer would never have to worry about a color line. Given one-tenth of the British conscience, the Japanese empire might have become one of the most homogeneous, compact, and prosperous federations of peoples in history. In the face of what actually developed, one finds it even harder to forgive Japanese stupidity than Japanese brutality.