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 Explosive Japanese WW11 Secrets Revealed

 By David Guyatt


 The history of the war in the Pacific is littered with tales of Japanese cruelty against British and American servicemen, amongst others.  Not only did Imperial Japanese forces treat Allied POW's as slaves to build their railway in Burma, but also used them in horrific medical experiments at Mukden, Manchuria, the headquarters of the secretive Unit 731 - Japan's chemical and biological warfare weapons facility.  Yet, even while all this was taking place, another more furtive Japanese force was engaged in work so secret that it has remained concealed, until now.

 Operating under the command of a Royal prince of the Imperial household, a highly secret unit was tasked with the methodical plunder of Southeast Asia.  The project was called "Golden Lily" - named after a poem written by Emperor Hirohito.  The unit plundered such profoundly large quantities of loot from China and Southeast Asia that, following the end of the war, the west determined to keep its activities secret.  A mixture of fear, greed, an impending cold war and a vast complex of international corruption sat behind this decision. 

 Cynically forgotten were the horrific deaths of Allied POW's who were forced to build complex tunnel systems and other underground depositories and then buried alive with the loot.  One reason, perhaps, why history will record this as one of the most explosive stories of World War Two ever to be told. 

 American author, Sterling Seagrave, has previously received international acclaim for his penetrating investigative books: "The Soong Dynasty," and "The Marcos Dynasty."  Now, in his latest work, The Yamato Dynasty, Seagrave unveils some of the most enduring secrets of the war in the Pacific.  The revelations are certain to cause uproar in London, Washington & Tokyo and will, in all likelihood, contribute to a number of major class action lawsuits against the US & Japanese governments.

 Bearing the sub-title: "The Secret History of Japan's Imperial Family," Seagrave's book sets out to expose numerous aspects of the Japanese imperial family and their way of life that, even today, remains eclipsed from the general Japanese public.  Some of this information came from memoirs written by members of the imperial family but also includes "fragments" extracted from Emperor Hirohito's own diaries that the Imperial Household has tried to suppress.  Other information has been gathered over nearly twenty years of intense investigation.  What was learned dispels the accepted view of history, replacing it with a reality that is both shocking and absorbing for the reader.

 The first myth to be exploded is the claim that the current imperial family has ruled as part of a single dynasty that has "reined unbroken since time memorial."  The facts are quite different.  The present Meiji family was installed on the throne in the mid 18th century as part of a coup orchestrated by the powerful Satsuma, Choshu, Hizen and Tosa clans.  In consolidating the coup, the plotters plundered the vast assets of the previous imperial family - a fact that should not be overlooked as this story unfolds. 

 Nor is the word "rule" at all accurate.  As Sterling and Peggy Seagrave make clear, the ruling family of Japan has always been governed by others more powerful than themselves.  The emperor and imperial family are figureheads used to conceal from the public the real power brokers who lurk behind the "black curtain."  These are the family owned and managed businesses or Zaibatsu that include such trans-national corporations as Mitsubishi, Mitsui and Sumitomo amongst others. 

 The authors say this corporate power has grown stronger, not weaker and that the "postwar financial cliques share power with nobody.  Not with the emperor, who is only a magic wand, and not with elected politicians, who are only hand-puppets.  Financial cliques are the most powerful forces in modern Japan."  Moreover, Japan's post-war business structure is unlike any other modern industrial society for the simple reason that organised crime are openly factored into it.  Hence the zaibatsu include not only "financiers, bankers and heads of corporations, but underworld bosses" - the so-called Yakuza crime clans. 

 The financial elite maintain their positions of power by paying bribes.  In the same way that Japanese society is rigidly structured in certain key ways, it should come as no surprise that political bribery and large scale corruption are also disciplined art-forms.  Political bribes are paid in "Bullets" with each shot amounting to 100 million Yen equivalent to US$800,000.  This enables the most powerful families to govern from a position of invisibility - a feature that has dominated the thoughts of Japan's ruling elite throughout recent history. 

 The most powerful man in Japan today is virtually unknown in the west, and is only rarely mentioned at home because of his connections with international sporting events.  As head of the Seibu group, Tsutsumi Yoshiaki's power snakes out to over 100 Japanese corporations and numerous international businesses.  Yet, the authors say that Tsutsumi Yoshiaki is probably the richest man in the world with declared assets greater than those of Bill Gates before the American computer whiz-kids bank balance hit $50 billion.  Meanwhile, Tsumtimi's undeclared assets are greater still, the authors believe. 

 A significant proportion of the current financial power of the zaibatsu and, indeed, that of the imperial family, has its origin in WW11.  For instance Seagrave reveals that "Most zaibatsu had participated in the looting of conquered countries and helped in running the wartime drug trade on the mainland.  An estimated $3 billion was made in the heroin trade alone…"  After the war, the vast wealth that had been accumulated from the heroin trade and from plundering China and other Southeast Asian nations magically disappeared.  The result was that Allied military Supremo, General Douglas MacArthur accepted the position that Japan was technically bankrupt.  This minimised the amount Japan was ordered to pay in war reparations to a meagre $1 billion.  From this, Allied Prisoners of War were paid trivial amounts in recompense for the inhumanities inflicted upon them during their internment.  British POW's were paid a miserable £48 each, for example.

 As part of his duties as Supreme Commander Allied Powers, General Douglas MacArthur was ordered by Washington, to conduct a meticulous audit of the imperial family's entire wealth.  MacArthur silently demurred and, instead, instructed Hirohito's own accountants and advisers to prepare a "self-audit listing only the emperor's domestic holdings as of late October 1945."  Hirohito's team set about their task with relish, latching on to numerous, ingenious ploys to minimise the emperor's wealth.  The figure they eventually presented to MacArthur totalled about $100 million.  This led to the bizarre announcement by Supreme Commander Allied Powers that the emperor, after paying taxes and other 'penalties" only possessed the paltry sum of $42,000 in cash.

 The reality was, as ever, quite different.  Experts who have investigated these matters now conclude that the emperor's domestic wealth, excluding art treasures, land, palaces and other items, was closer to $4 billion.  This huge sum had accumulated over many decades and represented the throne's percentage of zaibatsu company profits and shareholdings that formed the historical arrangements to keep the emperor "above" bribes. 

 Yet this sum was just part of an even greater hoard of wealth that was hidden at the end of the war.  In January 1944, when it became clear that the Allies would win the war, Privy Seal Kido called a meeting of Japan's leading investment bankers to advise the throne on how best to preserve the wealth of the imperial family.  The authors go on to reveal that in addition to large foreign investments and shareholdings, the emperor's large portfolio of gold, silver and platinum was "held under various covers in the vaults of banks in Switzerland, Sweden, the Vatican, Portugal, Argentina, Spain, Britain and the United States."  The bullion that could not be laundered in time was trucked to a vast underground imperial "bunker" where it was stashed in secret.  This was at Nagano, north of Tokyo, a backwater town artfully developed by Tsutsumi Yoshiaki in time for the 1998 Winter Olympics.  Tsutsumi, as head of Japan's Olympic Committee, had earlier courted Juan Antonio Samaranch, chairman of the International Olympic Committee.  This would later lead to sensational press stories that huge bribes had changed hands.

 The Nagona bullion bunker was only one of numerous treasure sites where loot from all over Asia was buried before the war's end.  On the Philippines alone, there were 172 locations used to stash booty plundered by the imperial Golden Lily treasure teams.  The author's reproduce one of Prince Chichibu's burial maps showing a complex tunnel system dug by POW's under the army base at Teresa, near Rizal, southeast of Manilla.  Here, bullion, platinum diamonds and valuable religious artefacts - including a golden Buddha figurine weighing one tonne - and collectively valued by Golden Lily accountants at $190 billion - were buried together with live Allied POW's that had been forced to dig the tunnels. 

 Part of the Teresa site was later recovered by Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos - lending real weight to tales of "Marcos gold" that have been treated more as fantasy than fact by the international media.  Press interest has been limited, until now, to the 1971 recovery of a Burmese Golden Buddha figurine by amateur treasure hunter Rogelio "Roger" Roxas.  The figurine had a detachable head that when removed left a small cavity stuffed full of diamonds.  The figurine was later stolen from Roxas by President Marcos.  Roxas was later murdered before he could give evidence in a US court in Hawaii that awarded Marcos victims a total of $25 billion in damages.

 The sheer quantity and value of plunder gathered by the Golden Lily was mind numbing.  The whole of Asia under Japanese control had been combed for treasure.  Most of it was shipped to Prince Chichibu's headquarters in the Philippines.  By 1943, American submarine activity had cut the sea lanes making gold shipments less certain.  To circumvent Allied air and naval attacks, Prince Chichibu had a fleet of four vessels painted with a Red Cross.  These continued to ply their way back and forth between Japanese controlled territories and the Philippines carrying huge amounts of plunder.

 After the war had finished, Japanese led groups began to recover large amounts treasure hidden in the Philippines.  They were not alone.  Seagrave reveals that American OSS (forerunner of the CIA) agents watched as Japanese troops buried treasure at Luzon in the Philippines and began a clandestine recovery operation between 1945 and 1948.  This was headed by a Filipino-American OSS - and later CIA -officer, Severino Garcia Santa Romana.  Romana, in turn, worked under the watchful eye of the late and now infamous CIA operative, General Edward Lansdale - who was embroiled in Operation Mongoose and the abortive CIA invasion of Cuba during the Kennedy administration.

 There was no intention on the part of the OSS/CIA to return any of the plunder to the rightful owners.  Instead, Santa Romana set up numerous front companies to launder the gold bullion secretly recovered.  In all OSS/CIA gold bullion was secretly deposited in a total of 176 bank accounts located in 42 countries. 

 Nor was this a rogue operation conducted by a knowing few.  The authors reveal that General William Donovan, head of the OSS, knew of the Lansdale-Romana recoveries, as did General Douglas MacArthur, and former US President Herbert Hoover.  Knowledge also extended to cold war warrior and later head of the CIA Allen Dulles.  Seagrave also believes it likely that President Truman was in the charmed circle of those who were informed. 

 The twice-looted gold became "the basis of the CIA's 'off the books' operational funds during the immediate postwar years, to create a worldwide anti-communist network."  To ensure loyalty to the cause, the CIA distributed Gold Bullion Certificates to influential and well-known people throughout the world.  The authors hold documents showing that "one of the big gold bullion accounts set up by Santa Romana was in the name of General Douglas MacArthur."  Other documents indicate that gold bullion worth $100 million was placed in an account in the name of Herbert Hoover, former President of the United States.

 Meanwhile, Allied veterans of the war in the Pacific continue to fight for meaningful compensation for the barbarous treatment they experienced.  The $1 billion reparations paid by Japan, once it had been divided among the many millions entitled to compensation, amounted to a pittance.  As late as November 1998 a Tokyo court rejected an appeal from 20,000 British, Australian, New Zealand and American former internees who had asked for compensation of $22,000 each. 

 In contrast to this miserly sum paid to Allied POW's, leading Japanese zaibatsu submitted their own claims for compensation after the war, arguing that the damage inflicted on their armaments factories by Allied air raids required restitution.  These claims totalled $5 billion and many were paid. 


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