Skip to content

23rd August, 1945

A heavy storm raged all last night and it was still pouring this morning. Will the Japanese take it as a sign of the displeasure of the goods, a belated divine wind? An official announcement released yesterday said that the first allied units would arrive in Japan on the 26th. This typhoon may conceivably delay them.

It will not stop them however and the Times and Mainichi today are full of instructions and announcements on the coming occupation. The communique from imperial headquarters, after revealing the date of the arrival of the first allied units, states that the following measures shall be enforced “to avoid any disturbances”: (1) withdrawal of the Japanese armed forces from certain crucial areas; (2) maintenance of order in those areas by military and other police; (3) work and life “as usual” for the government and people.

Expanding on these points a simultaneous statement from the board of information notifies the general public that rail travel in certain sectors has been restricted to the army for the time being in order to facilitate its withdrawal; that the government assumes full responsibility for the distribution of food and consequently “no unrest need be felt”; and finally that the government has also assumed responsibility for feeding and billeting the occupation forces and consequently “there will be no direct relations between the citizens in general and the allied forces. The people should be at ease about this point,” adds the statement.

For his part the new director of police in the home ministry has asked the people “to exercise special care not to commit rash or unconsidered deeds…. In short all the people should exercise the utmost care not to allow themselves to be influenced into entertaining fears and losing balance by wild rumors and guesses and also not to move from their places of domicile without instructions from the authorities.”

The reason for these soothing reassurances is clear. In a few days, from now till the 26th, the Japanese government must try to counteract the propaganda of four years of war. For all those years the Japanese have been taught to believe that the Americans are brutal sex-maniacs who rape every woman within reach, bloodthirsty devils who use Japanese skulls for paper-weights and run tanks over wounded Japanese prisoners, conscience-less gangsters who even at home think nothing of machine-gunning passers-by just to see them kick their convulsive last. They were taught these things first to whip up war hatred and then, in the last few months, to steel them for resisting invasion to the death.

If the Japanese ever believed these things, it would be impossible to find an antidote for them now. The truth, I suspect, is that nobody swallowed the poison except an insignificant few. But it would certainly surprise the Americans who, to judge from the shortwave reports, are taking every precaution against “Jap treachery”, to know that the Japanese government is even more anxious than they are to avoid any clashes. As every rookie eventually finds out, the other fellow is just as scared of you as you are of him.