Japanese Soldier’s Diary, Okinawa, 13 September 1945

September 13, 1945 (Thurs.), clear and windy

We talked all day, half-believing and half-doubting what the pacification team members told us last night. I lay down alone and dozed. No matter how much we talked about it, without seeing the evidence the pacification team said they’d bring, conversation was pointless. I didn’t like talking.

It was around eight in the evening. The same two members of the pacification team who had come last night arrived with conclusive evidence of imperial Japan’s surrender.

First, letters from our war buddies in units that had been attacked and surrendered were distributed to each of us. The letters explained Japan’s unconditional surrender and urged us to surrender right away. Then they showed us copies of the “Potsdam Declaration,” which Japan had accepted; the emperor’s “Surrender Rescript”; and the “Surrender Instrument” from the deck of the USS Missouri. There also were orders from Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, the top official overseeing the occupation of our country, and issues of the Asahi, Mainichi, and Yomiuri newspapers that had pictures and articles about the August 9 “Soviet Invasion of Manchuria,” the “Damage from the Atomic Bombs” dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the “Failed Suicide Attempt of Prime Minister Tojo.

The seven of us stared silently at the evidence–its meaning was all too clear. I felt as though my whole body had suddenly collapsed and I were being attacked by a dark loneliness.

Then after recovering from this feeling of loneliness, I was assailed by an inexpressible anger. Who or what in the world was the object of my anger? I couldn’t say.

I stamped my feet on the floor like a child and screamed words of anger. I felt the urge to run like a cannonball right into the center of the American camp.

In the end, even as I was being attacked by these violent feelings, I agreed with everyone else that we should surrender.

Frankly, even if I acted alone and raced out of the bunker, the surrender of Japan as an actuality wouldn’t change, and the mop-up operation the American troops would launch in the wake of such an action would be directed continuously at all the Japanese soldiers in the vicinity of the military field warehouse bunker.

Rather than rant and rage, I kept my thoughts to myself, left the group, and slowly walked to the back of the bunker.

SOURCE: Leaves from an Autumn of Emergencies: Selections from the Wartime Diaries of Ordinary Japanese, by Samuel Hideo Yamashita (U. Hawai‘i Press, 2005), pp. 154-155

This soldier, Nomura Seiki of Kochi City on Shikoku, surrendered the next day, but didn’t retrieve his diary until later, after which he wrote a long and poignant account of his actions and feelings on his final day as a soldier of Imperial Japan. It was too long to excerpt here, but here’s his subsequent and final diary entry on 10 November 1945.

Today, with the help of American soldiers, I visited the field storage bunker at Shuri and was able to recover the diary I left in the back of the bunker the night before I surrendered on September 14. This was a wonderful find. I have followed and recorded my memories of that day that brought things to an end for me as a Japanese soldier, and this is the end of this diary.

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