Leaves from an Autumn of Emergencies: Selections from the Wartime Diaries of Ordinary Japanese
The fall of Singapore and the brilliant victories achieved since the start of the war mean we are protected, but I don’t know just how grateful I should be. ―Takahashi Aiko, housewife, February 1942This is my final departure from the home islands. I have paid my respects to those who have helped me. I have no regrets. ―Itabashi Yasuo, navy kamikaze pilot, February 1944 We had rice gruel for lunch again. There was no tofu in it, but there were potatoes.... We went through with the closing ceremony and received our report cards. Everyone was there. From now on, I’ll persevere and not fail. ―Manabe Ichiro, primary school student, July 1944 This collection of diaries gives readers a powerful, firsthand look at the effects of the Pacific War on eight ordinary Japanese. Immediate, vivid, and at times surprisingly frank, the diaries chronicle the last years of the war and its aftermath as experienced by a navy kamikaze pilot, an army straggler on Okinawa, an elderly Kyoto businessman, a Tokyo housewife, a young working woman in Tokyo, a teenage girl mobilized for war work, and two schoolchildren evacuated to the countryside. Samuel Yamashita’s introduction provides a helpful overview of the historiography on wartime Japan and offers valuable insights into the important, everyday issues that concerned Japanese during a different and disastrously difficult time.