21st March 1945

The Times today carried two remarkable stories, both hand-outs of the military press corps.

The first comes from Yiojima. “With the fighting on Yiojima reaching a state of ever-increasing bitterness,” it states, “Unit Commander Masuo Ikeda decided to ‘win by dying’. His determination was carried through completely to each of his men. So many volunteered for his close-quarters combat force that he was hard put to select his men. When the force was picked each man was given a mark with the word, ‘flesh’ written in red in the center of the cherry blossom. The conversation of the men in this force dealt mostly with the ideas on how to kill the greatest possible number of the enemy. That each would die himself was a foregone conclusion. The training was furious; it was simultaneously training to kill one’s self. Supreme commander Kuribayashi and his staff expressed amazement at the furor of the training. They said they had nothing more to ask nor did they see any necessary revision in their scheme of training. Standing by his men practicing to die, Unit Commander Ikeda felt a pain in his heart.

“Whenever I give the command, these men will die, and willingly,” he used to say, pointing to his force….

“Holes were dug in the ground and empty drums lowered into each. A man with a land-mine entered each drum. The drums were covered with earth and the surface made to appear natural. The man in each can sat in the cramped space with his mine, listening intently for the approach of the enemy. One enemy soldier was allowed to pass — or two, small prey. When a 40- or 50-man force came overhead the Japanese soldier inside the drum seized his chance. Now was the time to die. He set off his mine and blew himself and the enemy force to bits….

“This was a new method of attack which the enemy could not have thought of. It was a method of attack which only the Japanese could carry out. The will of the Ikeda death band to die in order to win was more fiery than the boiling sulphuric water which shoots up from. Yiojima.”

The second story would be of particular interest in the Philippines. It follows the adventures of Yokohama-born 18-year-old Miss Komaji Okada who is said to have escaped from Saipan three days after the invasion. “As one of the escaping party she was helped by natives who provided food and a simple dug-out boat which they rowed down a small river. For two days and two nights they drifted in the open sea when suddenly an enemy plane appeared and rained a hail of machine-gun bullets on the poor defenseless party. There was no recourse but to jump into the water to protect themselves from the deadly missiles. Miss Okada was hit in the thigh and though the surrounding water was reddened with blood that was oozing out, she never lost consciousness, and ever driven by the thought that no enemy should dare kill her, she applied a tourniquet with a towel as she precariously clung to the side of the capsized boat. The eight hours that ensued as she swam or floated around until she was picked up by a Japanese warship were a nightmarish inferno of anguish and torture.”

Miss Okada was taken to a “certain island” (apparently in the western Visayas) where she was receiving medical treatment when she had once more to flee. “This time the boat she was fleeing on was attacked by enemy submarines. Swimming about in the water she was sure that luck would not desert her. The bodies of many of her dead companions came floating by and bumped against her. As she saw these poor victims, she could not help but renew her determination to live.” By means unrevealed, Miss Okada turned up in Cebu. For a third time she had to flee. And again the vessel on which she was escaping was sunk, this time by planes. But she reached Luzon by lifeboat only to find that fighting there had already begun. For the fourth time Miss Okada fled. She is now in Taiwan and the people in Taiwan must be feeling a little apprehensive.

These two stories should be material for historians of propaganda and students of national psychology. Miss Okada seems to flee right out of Hollywood, via Ferry and the Pirates, Wild West Magazine, and possibly C.W.L. unit Commander Ikeda has more the tragic dignity of the insane.