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CIA recruited Japanese war criminals

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  • Robert Sterling
    Please send as far and wide as possible. Thanks, Robert Sterling Editor, The Konformist http://www.konformist.com AP: CIA recruited Japanese war criminals By
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 2, 2007
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      Please send as far and wide as possible.

      Thanks,
      Robert Sterling
      Editor, The Konformist
      http://www.konformist.com

      AP: CIA recruited Japanese war criminals
      By JOSEPH COLEMAN, Associated Press Writer
      Sat Feb 24, 2007

      Col. Masanobu Tsuji was a fanatical Japanese militarist and brutal
      warrior, hunted after World War II for massacres of Chinese
      civilians and complicity in the Bataan Death March. And then he
      became a U.S. spy. Newly declassified CIA records, released by the
      U.S. National Archives and examined by The Associated Press,
      document more fully than ever how Tsuji and other suspected Japanese
      war criminals were recruited by U.S. intelligence in the early days
      of the Cold War. The documents also show how ineffective the effort
      was, in the CIA's view.

      The records, declassified in 2005 and 2006 under an act of Congress
      in tandem with Nazi war crime-related files, fill in many of the
      blanks in the previously spotty documentation of the occupation
      authority's intelligence arm and its involvement with Japanese ultra-
      nationalists and war criminals, historians say.

      In addition to Tsuji, who escaped Allied prosecution and was elected
      to parliament in the 1950s, conspicuous figures in U.S.-funded
      operations included mob boss and war profiteer Yoshio Kodama, and
      Takushiro Hattori, former private secretary to Hideki Tojo, the
      wartime prime minister hanged as a war criminal in 1948.

      The CIA also cast a harsh eye on its counterparts — and
      institutional rivals — at G-2, the occupation's intelligence arm,
      providing evidence for the first time that the Japanese operatives
      often bilked gullible American patrons, passing on useless
      intelligence and using their U.S. ties to boost smuggling operations
      and further their efforts to resurrect a militarist Japan.

      The assessments in the files are far from uniform. They show
      evidence that other U.S. agencies, such as the Air Force, were also
      looking into using some of the same people as spies, and that the
      CIA itself had contacts with former Japanese war criminals. Some CIA
      reports gave passing grades to the G-2 contacts' intelligence
      potential.

      But on balance, the reports were negative, and historians say there
      is scant documentary evidence from occupation authorities to
      contradict the CIA assessment.

      The files, hundreds of pages of which were obtained last month by
      the AP, depict operations that were deeply flawed by agents' lack of
      expertise, rivalries and shifting alliances between competing
      groups, and Japanese operatives' overriding interest in right-wing
      activities and money rather than U.S. security aims.

      "Frequently they resorted to padding or outright fabrication of
      information for the purposes of prestige or profit," a 1951 CIA
      assessment said of the agents. "The postwar era in Japan ...
      produced a phenomenal increase in the number of these worthless
      information brokers, intelligence informants and agents."

      The contacts in Japan mirror similar efforts in postwar Germany by
      the Americans to glean intelligence on the Soviet Union from ex-
      Nazis. But historians say a major contrast is the ineffectiveness of
      the Japanese operations.

      The main aims were to spy on Communists inside Japan, place agents
      in Soviet and North Korean territory, and use Japanese mercenaries
      to bolster Taiwanese defenses against the triumphant Communist
      forces in mainland China.

      Some of the missions detailed by the CIA papers, however, bordered
      on the comical.

      The Americans, for instance, provided money for a boat to infiltrate
      Japanese agents into the Soviet island of Sakhalin — but the money,
      boat and agents apparently disappeared, one report said. In Taiwan,
      the Japanese traded recruits for shiploads of bananas to sell on the
      black market back home.

      The operatives also were suspected of having murky links with the
      Communists they were assigned to undermine, the documents say. The
      CIA also said some agents sold the same information to different
      U.S. contacts, increasing their earnings, and funneled information
      on the American military back into the Japanese nationalist
      underground.

      The files and historians strongly suggest that American lack of
      knowledge about Japan or interest in war crimes committed in Asia,
      and a reliance on operatives' own assessment of their intelligence
      skills, made U.S. officials, in the words of one CIA report, "easy
      to fool for a time."

      "This was a bunch of Japanese nationalists taking the G-2 for a
      ride," said Carol Gluck, a specialist in Japanese history at
      Columbia University and adviser to the archives working group
      administering declassification of the papers. "One thing that was
      interesting was how absolutely nonsensical it was, of no use to
      anybody but the people involved. Almost funny in a way."

      The informants, many of whom were held as war criminals after
      Tokyo's surrender and subsequently released, operated under the
      patronage of Maj. Gen. Charles Willoughby, a German-born, monocle-
      wearing admirer of Mussolini, a staunch anti-Communist and, as the
      chief of G-2 in the occupation government, considered second in
      power only to his boss, Gen. Douglas MacArthur.

      Some of Willoughby's proteges were seen as prime war trial material
      by Allied prosecutors.

      But even as the occupation authorities were recrafting Japan into a
      democracy, their focus was shifting to containing the Soviets.
      Willoughby saw the military men as key to making Japan an anti-
      Communist bulwark in Asia — and ensuring that Tokyo would rapidly
      rearm, this time as a U.S. ally.

      Historians long ago concluded that the Allies turned a blind eye to
      many Japanese war crimes, particularly those committed against other
      Asians, as fighting communism became the West's priority.

      Chief among the Japanese operatives was Seizo Arisue, Japan's
      intelligence chief at the end of the war. Arisue had been a key
      figure in the pro-war camp and in forging Japan's alliance with Nazi
      Germany and Fascist Italy in the 1930s.

      According to the files, Arisue was soon ensconced in G-2, working
      with former Lt. Gen. Yorashiro Kawabe, who was a military
      intelligence officer in China in 1938 — to organize groups of
      veterans and others for underground operations.

      These groups consisted of former war buddies and often retained the
      same chains of command and militarist ideology of the war machine
      that ground much of Asia into submission in the 1930s and '40s.

      "It shows how we acquiesced to the Japanese ... in order to continue
      to build up Japan as our ally," said Linda Goetz Holmes, author
      of "Unjust Enrichment: How Japan's Companies Built Postwar Fortunes
      Using American POWs."

      "The whole thing was Cold War fear and an awful lot of postwar
      compensation issues ... all of that was subservient to our total
      fear of Russia," said Holmes, also a historical adviser for the
      declassification project.

      Indeed, that new focus brought some of Japan's most notorious
      wartime killers under U.S. sponsorship.

      Tsuji, for instance, was wanted for involvement in the Bataan Death
      March of early 1942, in which thousands of Americans and Filipinos
      perished, and for allegedly co-signing an order to massacre anti-
      Japanese Chinese merchants in Malaya.

      Yet none of that seemed to matter much to American intelligence. The
      U.S. Air Force attempted unsuccessfully to recruit him after he was
      taken off the war crimes list in 1949 and came out of hiding, and
      CIA and U.S. Army files show him working for G-2. In the 1950s he
      was elected to Japan's parliament. He vanished in Laos in 1961 and
      was never seen again.

      The Army considered him a potentially valuable source, but the CIA
      was not impressed with Tsuji's skills as an agent. The files show he
      was far more concerned with furthering various right-wing causes and
      basking in publicity generated by controversial political
      statements.

      "In either politics or intelligence work, he is hopelessly lost both
      by reason of personality and lack of experience," said a CIA
      assessment from 1954. Another 1954 file says: "Tsuji is the type of
      man who, given the chance, would start World War III without any
      misgivings."

      Kodama was another unsavory player. A virulent anti-communist and
      superbly connected smuggler and political fixer, Kodama commanded a
      vast network of black marketeers and former Japanese secret police
      agents in East Asia.

      The CIA, however, concluded he was much more concerned about making
      money than furthering U.S. interests. A gangland boss, he later
      played a major role in the Lockheed Scandal, one of the country's
      biggest post-World War II bribery cases. He died in 1984.

      "Kodama Yoshio's value as an intelligence operative is virtually
      nil," says a particularly harsh 1953 CIA report. "He is a
      professional liar, gangster, charlatan and outright thief... Kodama
      is completely incapable of intelligence operations, and has no
      interest in anything but the profits."

      Nowadays, the most powerful legacy of the U.S. occupation is the
      democratic freedoms and pacifism built into Japan's 1947
      constitution. But the U.S. association with Japanese war criminals
      illustrates how Washington embraced nationalist and conservative
      forces after World War II, helping them reassert their grip on the
      government once the occupation ended in 1952.

      "Its hard to imagine back in those days how intent the U.S. was on
      rapid remilitarization of Japan," said John Dower, historian and
      author of "Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II."

      "When we talk about the emergence of neo-nationalism or a strong
      right wing in Japan today, this has very deep roots and it involves
      a very strong element of American support," he said.

      Yet the ex-war criminals failed to rebuild a militarist
      Japan. "Prewar right-wing activists who escaped war crime charges in
      fact did not have much influence in the postwar period," said Eiji
      Takemae, historian and author of The Allied Occupation of Japan.

      To the Americans, he said, "they were in fact not very useful."

      ___

      Associated Press investigative researcher Randy Herschaft in New
      York contributed to this report.

      ___

      On the Net:

      U.S. National Archives and Records Administration:

      http://www.archives.gov/iwg/japanese-war-crimes/introductory-
      essays.pdf

      http://www.archives.gov/iwg/reports/japanese-interim-report-march-
      2002-1.htm
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