Since V-E Day plus two the United States has treated the Japs to a new brand of psychological warfare. It offers our first specific interpretation of unconditional surrender and it is dinned into Nipponese radio receivers six times a week. The Japs are told that their choice lies between a “wasteful, unclean death” in total war and “peace with honor” if they surrender unconditionally.
The voice which speaks to the Japanese is that of a 55 year old Navy captain, Ellis Mark Zacharias--the only man allowed the title of “official spokesman of the United States Government.” An Annapolis graduate, Zacharias wears five battle stars on his Pacific-area ribbon. He was skipper of the heavy cruiser Salt Lake City when she escorted the carrier Hornet from whose decks Col. James Doolittle’s fliers attacked Tokyo. Later Zacharias commanded the battleship, New Mexico in attacks against Makin, Kwajaleein, Saipan, Tinian, and Guam.
For several years between 1920 and 1936, Zacharias served in Tokyo. He is one of the few Americans who speak Japanese fluently.
Now attached to the Office of War Information’s Psychological Warfare Division, Zacharias makes once a week broadcast prepared -- under his guidance -- by OWI propaganda experts. He speaks first in Japanese, then repeats in English. (A fifteen-minute English broadcast requires nineteen and a half minutes when translated into Japanese.) His talks are relayed to Japan by way of California, Hawaii, and Saipan. The transmission schedule for each talk - twice daily for three consecutive days.
Black & White: In his first talk on May 10, Zacharias started out in a chatty tone. He reminded old acquaintances of past friendly relations. “Admiral Yonai will recall our many conversations,” he said. “Mr. Kurusu will know my regret in the loss of his son whom as a small boy I often patted on the head.” He named names and cited facts to prove Japan is doomed. Then he was ready with his Sunday punch: a repetition of President Truman’s V.E. Day surrender statement to the Japanese. He clinched his talk by saying: “I am in a position to guarantee with authority that the desperate phrase “victory or extermination’ [the official Japanese interpretation of unconditional surrender] is a deliberate misrepresentation of fact.”
Usually quick to reply - in snide tones - to our propaganda, the Japs deliberated more than three weeks before they answered Zacharias. Evidently, the “official spokesman’s” broadcasts troubled the Japanese hierarchy so much that it had to dig deep for a crushing reply. Finally, the Jap announcer Isamu Inouye blustered: “Every hour of [American] propaganda is being brought to naught by a minute of their bombs. What remains is only the increasing hatred of the Americans in the minds of the Japanese.”
In a later rebuttal, Inouye suggested that American surrender unconditionally to Japan and wondered “what Zacharias thinks of these words from Japan.” Zacharias---and OWI--consider Inouye’s wondering purely rhetorical.