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26th July, 1945

The Japanese learned “with trepidation” today that while the American task force is searing the imperial land with fire and steel, the emperor “is graciously engaged in state affairs, in high spirits despite his work.” Due to the destruction of the imperial palace “His Majesty is experiencing more inconveniences than before but he has had the graciousnesss to attend to state affairs in excellent health.”

The president of the board of information, who transmitted these facts at the inaugural meeting of branch-chiefs of the Dai Nippon Political Association, also recalled an anecdote on the emperor’s grandfather. When the great Prince Ito submitted his resignation as premier, the equally great Meiji answered with a sigh: “Alas, We cannot resign.”

Yesterday the Asahi also reported on the state of the Premier’s health. It seems that despite his advanced age (he will soon be 80), Suzuki is “rosy-cheeked and radiating health.” He has not been sick once in the four months since he took office. At that time an old shipmate, a retired navy doctor, had rushed up to Tokyo from Okayama and had appointed himself the new prime minister’s physician. He was now “thoroughly disgusted”; he had nothing to do. The old man’s blood pressure was 169; his weight had fallen off a bit from 22 to 20 kan (one kan equals 3.75 kilos or 6.23 pounds) but he had not suffered from it.

The secret of the premier’s health, it developed, was sleep; he slept at least 10 hours a day, retiring ay about 10 p.m. Not even an air-raid could make him lose his “precious sleep”. He received no visitors in the mornings, spending them “in speculation and thought”. For recreation he had a small garden; an inveterate smoker he had cut himself down to two cigars a day, since taking office and had allowed himself half a [illegible] each day. (one [illegible] equals 1.[illegible] liters).

An avid reader, he had lost his entire library in a fire-raid. But a grandson had found him a copy of the works of Laotsze in a second-hand bookstall and had pointed out a passage in this work which he considered the secret, not only of his administration, but of life itself. The passage: “The way to govern a great country is the same as to cook small fish. Cooking the fish quickly or over too strong a fire, breaks it up and spoils it. Whatever you do, do it slowly and well.

In the imperial cities along the storied rivers, in the startled villages of the northern coast, in the factory towns on the fabled highway of the Tokaido, by Inland Sea and the ravaged shores of Kyushu, while His Majesty graciously and in high spirits attended to state affairs and his prime minister dozed in the morning sunlight, drowsy with speculation, the flames were burning too quickly and the fire was too strong.