Courtesy Reuters

Japan at War

WAR is a sure generator of social change and not infrequently a prelude to revolution. How has Japan stood the strain of eighteen months of a conflict which, as its leaders repeatedly remind the people, is by no means ended and may assume much larger proportions if the Soviet Union should come to China's aid?

I think the first impression of any visitor to Japan is -- for a country at war -- one of calm and normality. The outward aspect of the Tokyo district where I live has not changed. At the New Year holiday season the customary decorations of small pine trees and Japanese oranges appeared at the gates of houses, while children, apprentices and serving maids played battledore and shuttlecock in the streets. The small shops, so amazingly numerous in Tokyo, carry on as usual; it is much harder to obtain imported goods, but the stocks of native vegetables and fruit and cheap manufactured goods seem to be as abundant as ever; there are no queues and no ration cards for daily necessities.

Similarly, a recent visit to a village some thirty miles from Tokyo at first sight revealed nothing out of the ordinary. The farmers were carrying on seasonal work in their fields and farmyards. It was only when one got beneath the surface by going into houses and asking questions that one realized how the war had affected this particular community. Out of a district (including several villages) with a total population of 4,500 persons, 150 had been mobilized and eight had been killed. And the villages, like the towns, were suffering inconveniences, though no downright hardships. There was a lack of salt, for instance, for pickling radishes. And there were complaints about low prices offered for the compulsory requisitions of hay and sweet potatoes for the Army. Inconveniences in the cities are a lack of materials for house repairs, deterioration in some manufactured goods because of the enforced use of staple fibre and other homemade substitutes, terrific

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