The third fundamental policy in Japan’s new pre-invasion structure (following the wartime emergency authority and the division of the empire into eight regions) was announced today. Effective the 22nd, when imperial approval of the diet measure was granted, the volunteer military service law went into operation. Some additional details of the measure are: the term of service shall be one year; the volunteers, excluding those already in the armed forces and the physically unfit, shall be called into action by the competent ministers of state; they shall be organized by regions or by occupation. Thus “railway volunteer fighting headquarters” is expected whose main effect will be to subject railway workers to military discipline.
Our principal concern in Tokyo however was to see to it that our students are not caught between Japanese mobilization and American invasion. Already [illegible] small cities, no less than the crescendo of attacks on Kyushu, had radically changed the situation from that in spring when the students were evacuated from Tokyo “for their own safety”. As a matter of fact our students in Fukuoka had already lost their dormitory and personal belongings in a recent raid. It was to inquire after them and to explore the possibilities of a change of program that I called on Taketomi today. He assured me that his organization was doing its best for the boys in Fukuoka. Communications were badly disrupted and there was little baggage space available on the trains that were running South but he said “we are sending them shirts, shoes, mattresses, and whatever else we can through six of our men who will carry the supplies on their backs.” I offered the help of the embassy but he hesitated to accept anything because he did not want the Indonesians, Malays, and the other students in Fukuoka who have no diplomatic representatives in Tokyo to feel that they were being discriminated against.
With regard to the over-all program, he was equally apologetic. Yes, he said, the problem was being reconsidered but it took so long to get any sort of official action in Japan; there were so many authorities involved that endless conferences were necessary. The embassy, he did not have to emphasize, was not one of those authorities. What we still wanted, I informed him, was what we had asked from the beginning, that all the Filipino students be gathered in one place, preferably in Kyoto, which seemed to be safe from bombers [illegible] about Kyoto. The imperial university there, it seemed, was “prejudiced” against foreign students and from the very beginning had consented to receive only a quota which was now filled.
Our discussion was desultory and fruitless. Neither of us had any authority. I complained that the students in Gifu had been forbidden to go to church on Sundays. Ah, yes, he recalled. That was because the church there was one run by foreigners under police suspicion. I made several other requests and then, as I was leaving, I asked casually once more about our student in the north. This time, unexpectedly, Taketomi blurted out the truth. The boy had been arrested, he admitted mournfully. It was a distressing case. This “misguided” young man had somehow managed to cross to the island of Karafuto and had been caught only one town away from the Soviet border. He had been taken back to Hakodate and was now “safe” in custody. No, nobody could do anything about it. The kempei were in charge. I questioned him closely but he did not seem to be very well informed or more communicative. Apparently he did not know, or did know that I knew, that our student had made friends with a Japanese girl, bought the ticket for Karafuto through her, and almost made the border when the girl, in an access of patriotism, remorse, and curiosity, told her father who told the police.