Shopping idly in the luxury curio shops in Miyanoshita I was surprised to see that all the silver and tortoise-shell cigarette cases were gone. I wondered who could possibly have bought them at the fantastic prices set for them (plus an 80 per cent luxury tax). The shop-keeper explained that rich Japanese, who did not know what to do with their paper money, had not hesitated to buy them. Japanese are forbidden to buy or possess silver and the transactions were done through foreign friends.
In Tokyo the headlines went to the “new deal” for the Koreans and Formosans. An imperial rescript was promulgated today while the premier and the home minister issued lengthy statements.
No Korean was heard from. No Formosan was heard from. There were none to be heard. Possibly that is a better commentary on Japanese colonial policy than any rescript. For the rest of it, it is necessary only to recall that ever since Japan announced its program of granting independence to the various peoples of Greater East Asia, the Koreans and Formosans have felt they were neither fish nor fowl nor anything else. They were one of the peoples of Greater East Asia but they had no independence promised or delivered. They were being drafted for the Japanese armed forces and for labor service in Japan but they had no Japanese citizenship. I asked a Japanese diplomat last year what solution was contemplated for this anomaly. He answered that nothing definite had been decided. Korea was too important a bastion in Japanese defense to be abandoned; it would be given independence, if ever, only in the event of a complete victory which would eliminate all possible threats against the homeland. As for full citizenship rights, he was as solicitous about “readiness” or “fitness” for self-government as the India Office. The present compromise possibly indicates a trend toward imperial absorption as against “liberation” and federation. Or is it only a tacit admission that “complete victory” is farther away than ever?