The spy scare continues to mount. Japan is alone against the world and all foreigners are suspect. Chatting with other Filipinos in the lobby of the Dai-Ichi hotel I was approached by a well-dressed Japanese. He came up with a smile and for a moment I thought I had met him somewhere. But he himself said afterward that he had made mistake; he apologized and then calmly joined our group and asked questions. Who were we? What nationality? What were we waiting for? Where did we live?
Later in the day Anita arrived from Miyanoshita. She had come down together with an Italian acquaintance. He was blonde, red-faced, obviously a foreigner and she looked like a Japanese to the policeman at the streetcar stop near the embassy. It was some time before he was convinced that he had not bagged a brace of spies.
Afterward, explaining and aplogizing for the incident, one or our Japanese interpreter told me two stories of real espionage. An admiral in full uniform had been stopped by the military police while driving in a secret factory district. The admiral was furious but the suspicions of the kempei had been aroused by the fact that his car was not a navy car. They proved to be justified. The man turned out to be an impostor and a spy. In another factory district a man in the uniform of an army lieutenant had asked to board at a farmhouse, explaining that he was assigned for duty in one of the plants nearby. He won the confidence of the old couple on the farm with the story that he was an orphan. Eventually he was even adopted and married to the daughter of the family. He asked many casual questions and they were answered. One day the factory was wiped out by a raid. The daughter, who was working there, was killed. The man never came back.
From another source I heard why the American raids are so accurate. The military police had long puzzled over the fact that the B-29’s were consistently hitting the right targets in a certain factory. They were not fooled, it seemed, by the most ingenious camouflage and the most convincing dummies. They were at a loss until one of the townspeople remarked to a friend that it was funny that his neighbor, the wife of the factory’s technical director, should always be at her sewing-machine, pedaling furiously whenever there was an air-raid. The police were intrigued. One day, at the height of a raid, they surrounded the house. Inside they caught the director transmitting information through a secret radio set while his wife worked at the sewing machine to muffle the noise. The man and his entire family were shot. He was a skilled technician who had come back to Japan on an exchange boat.
Whether these stories are true or not, they form the staple of conversation in diplomatic circles, together with the rations and black-market connections. The wife of one Italian diplomat said she has a stiff leg recently and called masseur. A man showed up and started off by asking questions. Where had she sprained her leg? Why? With whom? Finally he thanked her and left, promising to send a real masseur. At least, she consoles herself now, the police agent did not actually start massaging her leg.
A Portuguese was recently called in by the military police. What had she been talking about on a certain day when she had walked to Roppongi in a black dress and a green hat? She could not remember. It was two years ago.
The Fujiya hotel has a swimming pool and a group of Axis diplomats were sunning themselves around in one morning. In a short while a Japanese strolled up. Calmly he took off his shoes and coat and made himself comfortable in a lounge chair. He was obviously listening to the conversation and the diplomats turned to the innocuous topic of Chinese food. Most of them had been in China and now they reminisced hungrily of Peking duck, sweet and sour sauce, pickled eggs, and thick asparagus soup with chicken. The police agent was obviously puzzled. What was there to report in this series of culinary memoirs? Finally he could stand it no longer. He raised himself, turned, and asked: “Excuse, please. You talk about Chinese cooking, no?
“Yes,” answered one Italian cautiously. “Anything wrong?”
“No, nothing wrong. You like Chinese cooking?”
“Well, yes, we like Chinese cooking and,” he added discreetly, “also Japanese cooking.”
“What kind Chinese cooking?” the policeman suddenly demanded with the air of a hunter who has cornered his prey.
“What kind? You mean, north or south Chinese?”
“No, no. Please answer. What kind Chinese cooking you like? Nanking or Chunking?”
But the Japanese are the worst victims of their own spy-scare. A Japanese in Miyanoshita, who is married to a German lady he met during his studies in Berlin, does not dare walk in the streets of the village with his wife anymore. The same German woman, met the son and daughter of a Japanese marquis on the train from Tokyo the other day. They were old friends and they chatted amiably. As soon as they got off, however, the two Japanese were taken in to kempei headquarters. Why, they were asked, had they been talking to the foreign woman? What had they talked about?
But the boy was too quick-witted for them. “Is there anything to prohibit us from talking to a Japanese subject?” he asked.
“No,” the police agreed. “But this woman….”
This woman is married to a Japanese and therefore she herself is a Japanese subject.”
They were released. But they, like very other Japanese in the vicinity, have now let it be known to their foreign friends that they will have to be excused if they no longer exchange words or even salutes.
The life of a Burmese diplomat, for one, understands perfectly. To amuse herself one day she painted the fingernails of her favorite maid a vivid red. In the afternoon she decided to take a short trip and sent the maid to the railway to buy a ticket.
In a few minutes she was back, weeping copiously and pleading for some polish remover. The station-master had refused to sell a ticket to a Japanese girl with painted fingernails “like the hairy devils”.