15th May 1945

About 400 B-29’s raided Nagoya yesterday, “for the first time dropping incendiaries on a large scale in the daytime”, while 300 carrier-borne planes were raking Kyushu, following up a larger raid the day before by 900 planes. In Okinawa, reports the Asahi, “a confused battle is raging, with indications that the fighting line has been shifted nearer to Shuri and Naha. Evidently the enemy has come out to launch a general offensive both on land and sea.” In view of this, orders the Asahi, “is the enemy inordinately intending to win the war at one stroke?”

And the paper complains: “We have the favor of heaven, the harmony of men, and the advantage of locale. What we lack, it is regrettable to say, is materials.” Heaven favors the longest assembly-line.

Premier Suzuki knows it. At a conference of prefectural governors yesterday he reminded his hearers that the empire was now fighting along, “that it could not fight without an increase in production, and that there could be no increase “without the people’s trust”.

It is probably the chief disadvantage of a bureaucratic government that it must be taught this basic technique of the politician. Certainly it is startling for one who has lived under other forms of government to hear such elementary instructions as the premier felt compelled to give the governors:

“It is necessary that you should live and work in concert with the people…. With modesty and with the attitude of reflecting on your conduct daily, you are called to recognize straightforwardly the prevailing situation, give consideration to the spirit of the people at work, listen to their enthusiastic will, and respond thereto. The result will be that you will be kinder in your leadership….

“Show a good example to the people and take proper and timely measures as necessity arises, without being influenced by the ups and downs of the war situation. In the course of the performance of your duties you will find obstacles in time-honored customs and complicated regulations, but it is hoped that you will judge the situation on the basis of your responsibility…. and act with dispatch and courage.”

The Premier did not forget to give the governors a certain reassurance. As I often say,” he reminded them, “world war history shows that it is not always the big country that wins and the small country that is defeated. The country that fight it out under a moral order gets the ultimate victory.”

Which is no truer than it is to say that right makes might.

7th April 1945

With 120 bombers over Tokyo and 150 more over Nagoya, Suzuki requested “the visits of ministerial candidates to his cabinet-organizing headquarters” from 8 o’clock this morning and “entered into direct negotiations with them.” The press expected that some of the Koiso ministers would be retained, among them Admiral Yonai for the navy, “to organize the most powerful cabinet available, one that will be the last of the war, ” a phrase of double meaning.

In the Fujiya I was surprised to meet the Manchu ambassador. We had received the official notification of his return home on leave. He explained that he had left Shimonoseki on the ferry to Chosen but one of the magnetic mines sown by B-29’s had exploded 15 meters behind the ship, lifting it out of the water and damaging its propellers. It had to be towed back to Shimonoseki. Now the ambassador is waiting for a plane.

4th April 1945

The English edition of the Mainichi today hits out with one of the strongest editorials of the war. “While we were talking about the war situation, saying that the war had drawn close to our shores, or that the foe had invaded such and such a place, the enemy has come within our gate… it is rather surprising to observe that we have been outmaneuvered at every turn.” But the Mainichi is more concerned about the home front than the battlefront and with a frankness that is well-nigh incredible lashes the administration for inefficiency and waste and the people for selfishness and indifference.

But an anecdote I heard today possibly brings out the state of affairs better than the Mainichi editorial. Two Japanese were discussing the cigarette rations. One said that he could not understand why the ration was three cigarettes a day in Tokyo and only two a day in much-bombed Nagoya. “I can understand the Tokyo ration,” he argued. “One cigarette after every meal.”

Well, rejoined the other, “that would still make it two cigarettes a day in Nagoya.”



20th March 1945

The train to Odawara was crowded with refugees and so was the neat little tourist tram to Miyanoshita. One young evacuee girl was making friends with the conductor; I overheard him thanking her for some gift or other and offering to help her load more of her baggage on the next trip. There was also a girl attendant on the tram, a youngster still with pigtails on. She tried very hard to be business-like, swinging off briskly at the stops, joshing the other conductors manfully, striding along with her shoulders swinging and her hands in her trousers pockets. Young-Japan — she will never touch her forehead to the floor to bid her lord and master greeting and farewell.

Miyanoshita seemed far away from the war and we could read with a certain detachment that an American task force has been raiding Kyushu since the 18th. The city of Nagoya was also raided shortly after midnight on the 18th by 100-odd B-29’s. Under these circumstances the Japanese will probably fail to be distracted by a new piece of political theater announced by the board of information yesterday. The franchise will be extended in the near future to the peoples of Chosen and Taiwan. Under the new system the people of Chosen will elect 23 members and of Taiwan five members of the lower house in the diet while 10 peers will be appointed from the same regions. “Although the qualifications for suffrage in Chosen and Taiwan will differ slightly from those prevailing in Japan proper,” comments the Times, “the new arrangement means not only a marked increase in the political privileges of the regulation of these newer portions of the empire but it marks further a tremendous step toward complete abolition of all legal and political distinctions among the various peoples of the empire.” The Times did not miss this opportunity to sneer at the “exploitation” and “racial discrimination” in the British empire. And indeed, as between the British empire and the Japanese empire, surely Japan, had the better starting chance of building a true “commonwealth of nations” or of peoples. From almost any aspect the peoples of East Asia are closer, more akin, to the Japanese than a Hindu or a Hottentot to the English. A Korean peer would never have to worry about a color line. Given one-tenth of the British conscience, the Japanese empire might have become one of the most homogeneous, compact, and prosperous federations of peoples in history. In the face of what actually developed, one finds it even harder to forgive Japanese stupidity than Japanese brutality.