Handing Over Weapons and Ammunition

The war ended, but we did not see any Soviet soldiers for a while, so we carried on the similar way of living holding anxieties for our future.

The Soviet army came in on August 15th after a whole week had passed. The yard of the elementary school where our military headquarter was located was quickly occupied by the more modernized and well-equipped Soviet army units which brought big trucks full of dirty soldiers, tanks, armored cars, and self-propelled artilleries. There was not a single soldier walking. There was such a big difference from how the Japanese army was.

To our surprise, we saw women mixed into men in the ration of one to ten. They looked the same because of the uniform, but their physical figures were obviously different. We tried to figure out the reason, and came to the speculation that they had to recruit women to compensate the big loss of hundreds and thousands of male soldiers in their wars against Germany and other countries.

A long meeting was being held till late at night with the Soviet Admiral Ivan Chystiakov in the building that belonged to the Japanese army commander.

We were watching the light in the room with anxieties. Perhaps two days later, an order came. We were told to give all of our weapons, bullets, clothes, goods, and food along with the lists. As I was the main officer in charge of the clothing and goods, I asked the officers in my unit to investigate the numbers of clothing and goods we possessed.

We all felt like doing something better by giving those away to the residents of that area instead of just giving everything away to the Soviet. So we threw as many army uniforms, under ware, army shoes, rolled gates and sheets as possible to lots of Koreans who came from somewhere from the window of the elementary school where the accounting office was. The crowd screamed with joy to grab what they wanted. It became fun and we felt like being in the similar event in our Japanese custom when we give away lots of mochi sweets right before any new construction begins. It helped a little bit to forget our deep sorrow.

My job to find out the exact numbers of goods clothing and goods became tough because of this. When I finally was able to communicate with the officer in the warehouse, he told me many people were already in the warehouse as well. Thus, we had to give up grasping the exact numbers to report, but I still wanted to do my best to show the efficient method of the Japanese army to the Soviets. Reporting totally false numbers was not what I wanted to do. Looking back from now, that could have been a trivial matter after losing the war, but back then, I was still full of the spirit as an army officer.

It was already close to the evening by the time I finished turning in the lists of clothing and goods. I tried as accurately as possible, but I could not help losing the numbers since people in the region were really trying hard to take things away.

The elementary school yard was buried with tanks, armored cars, and self-propelled artilleries. In the middle of the sunset in a summer evening, these weapons painted in disguising colors were full of dust, and looked very intimidating.
We talked about how miserable the war could have been for us because our unit did not even possess bullets for a cannon.

The bathroom in the elementary school was connected to the main building with a long wooden hall way. We were staying on the second floor in the former classroom where the accounting office was. Suddenly, a rumor started to spread that someone who tried to pass through the hall way to go to the bathroom was shot to death by the automatic rifle called mandolin gun by a Soviet soldier. The person may have tried to escape and was shot possibly because of a language barrier or misunderstanding, we were not sure, but the atmosphere of the accounting office suddenly became sad and pessimistic.

Since I could not hold any longer, I headed off to the bathroom. I saw a bleeding Japanese soldier lying face down. He did not move at all. I had a horrible time, but managed to walk above his body and went to the bathroom. On my way back, I had to walk above him again. At that time, I saw a Soviet soldier with the Mandolin grinning at me. I was so scared and ran back to the accounting room. We were put in the atmosphere to worry about just ourselves. We all felt so sorry for the Japanese soldier who died, but nobody tried to put away his body.

At the corner of the second floor, there was a room for communication. They were exchanging information with various places, but they had no control over our situation. A little before five, we received invitation from the communication unit to join them to eat sweet red bean soup. When I got their room, they were cooking red beans with all of the sugar they had. The sweet smell and the smoke were flowing out of the room together from the window.

An older staff murmured, “Everything came to an end.” His beard was long. We all silently enjoyed the bean soup. It was unusually sweet.