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24th March 1945

Let no one say afterward that the Japanese did not know what was coming. After Saipan, Yiojima; after Yiojima, Okinawa; at least that is the popular expectation following the imperial headquarters announcement yesterday that an American task force had pounded Kyushu from the 18th to the 21st March. The communique made the usual extravagant claims but Admiral Sankichi Takahashi, a former commander-in-chief of the combined fleet, in boasting of the “war results” off Kyushu, committed what would appear to be an unforgivable indiscretion. “Our combined fleet,” he declared, “exists in the air and under the sea”.

I went to Mass for my birthday at the St. Joseph’s College chapel in Gora, up the mountain from Miyanoshita. There had been some talk of difficulties with police guards stationed there because most of the brothers are French and thus technically under internment. But we were not stopped; there was no one to stop us or even to take down our names as had happened to others the Sunday before. It seems the gendarmerie have taken to “union hours” and show up only at nine in the morning to quit at five. The brothers who run the school are mostly patriarchs with long white beards. They have grown old preaching the Gospel in Japan. “But there was not one Japanese at Mass.