Mere Shell Of Bomb-Racked Tokyo Left, Says Yamagiwa
"It will take many years before the rubble resulting from bombing raids of Tokyo is cleared away to allow rebuilding,” according to Dr. Joseph K. Yamagiwa, assistant professor of Japanese here, who returned last Wednesday from a four weeks stay in Japan.
Dr. Yamagiwa was sent to Japan as a member of a government agency and spent most of his time in Tokyo. He was given an eight-weeks leave of absence.
“Although many buildings remain standing in the business district, they are only shells, gutted with fire,” Dr. Yamagiwa declared. “Rubble has been cleared from the streets, but it is now piled three or four feet deep where the buildings once stood,” he added.
There are still islands of homes in the city which were not damaged by the bombs, Dr. Yamagiwa said, although he pointed out that two-thirds of the city was demolished.
"Most of the families still living in the city are accommodating homeless friends and relatives. Many have built temporary shacks, and numbers are living in the air raid shelters which have been converted into huts,” Dr. Yamagiwa told.
Vegetable Gardens Attempted
Gardens, most of them devoted to impoverished looking cabbages and radishes, have been planted in spaces cleared from rubble, he said. The gardens were planted too late in the season to thrive.
Citizens of Tokyo are receiving approximately 1,375 calories per day as compared with 1,550 for German citizens and a 2,000 minimum to maintain health standards. The Japanese are trying hard to get Gen. MacArthur to allow importation of foods to supply the native deficit, Dr. Yamagiwa said.
Inflation is riding the saddle in Japan and fishermen are reaping a good share of the profits, according to Dr. Yamagiwa. During the blackouts, he pointed out, fishermen were forbidden to fish for squids, an edible sea creature similar in appearance to the octopus, which can only be caught at night with the aid of lanterns.
During the war period the squids reproduced so fast that a single fisherman can now make a haul of 1,000 squids in one evening, Dr. Yamagiwa said.
Fishermen Cash In
A policy of free market prevailing by order of the occupation forces, the fishermen have capitalized on the situation and squid are now selling for as much as 3 yen 50 sen apiece or 52 cents in American money. In terms of monthly receipts, the average fisherman can now earn as much as 30,000 yen or $2,000. Before the war a fisherman was fortunate if he earned 300 yen in one year, Dr. Yamagiwa explained.
Describing the Japanese diet, Dr. Yamagiwa said that the people are given 73 hundredths of a pint of rice a day per individual, and if the person is over 60 he receives only 64 hundredths of a pint.
Haikumochi—“which looks like the pads under a typewriter and tastes like concentrated sawdust”—is considered a delicacy, Dr. Yamagiwa declared. Laborers who are offered the food by their employers often save fragments of haikyumochi to take home to their children at night.
Gradual Improvement Noted
Asked what the results of the American occupation are, Japanese mentioned such facts as that newspapers are now enlarged from 10 by 12-inch sheets to 12 by 14-inch sheets and that street cars now run until 9:30 at night instead of 8:30.
Japanese civilians admit that one of the reasons they lost the war was the fact that they had underestimated the American fighting spirit and that they fell behind the United States in production of scientific weapons, according to Dr. Yamagiwa.
Dr. Yamagiwa did not visit the atomic-bombed cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. He was last in Japan in April, 1941, when he concluded 19 months of study in languages and literature at Tokyo Imperial University.
Dr. Yamagiwa is a graduate of Bates College, Maine, and received his master’s degree in English literature and his doctor’s degree in Oriental languages at the University of Michigan. He has been educational director of the Army Intensive course which terminated its program at the University, last week.