Why US Shields Japan's WWII Denials
Editor's Note: Over the years, we have written a number of stories about Rev. Sun Myung Moon's influence-buying schemes inside U.S. conservative political circles – and the federal government's odd refusal to aggressively enforce laws when Moon's operation is caught in legally questionable activities. [See, for instance, Moon/Bush 'Ongoing Crime Enterprise'.]
In this guest article, Jerry Meldon examines the mysterious roots of the money that has funded right-wing Asian politics since World War II and that has sometimes spilled over into the United States:On Feb. 19, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso took exception to a U.S. congressional resolution introduced by Rep. Mike Honda, D-California, calling on Japan to “formally acknowledge, apologize and accept historical responsibility” for coercing 200,000 Asian women into slavery as “Comfort Women” (wartime prostitutes) for 3.5 million Japanese soldiers. Mr. Aso said he considers the accusation groundless and extremely regrettable.
Six decades after World War II, can it really be that Japanese officials are still distorting history and insulting the Chinese, Koreans, Philippinos and others across Asia whom Hirohito’ s forces savagely brutalized and robbed?
And why does Washington turn a deaf ear?
The answers may be rooted in what transpired behind closed doors in Tokyo when Japan was occupied by the U.S. military in the post-war years .
Sterling and Peggy Seagrave suggest a motive in their eye-opening – and at times stomach-turning – 2003 book, Gold Warriors: America’s Secret Recovery of Yamashita’s Gold. In the war’s immediate aftermath, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, commander-in-chief of Allied occupying forces, secretly joined hands with Japanese war criminals.
Rather than convict, imprison and throw away the keys, MacArthur coddled those responsible for one of history’s bloodiest wars of aggression. When the U.S. occupation ended in 1952, he released all those who were still in custody.
And it may have gone a lot further than that.
According to Gold Warriors, e ven as the United States “introduced democratic reforms and a new constitution … [it ] put Japan back under the control of men who were devotedly undemocratic … [insisting] that Japan never stole anything and was flat broke … [when, in reality, America had given it ] huge infusions of black money.”
Washington even had Article 14 of the 1951 Japan Peace Treaty state : “It is recognized that Japan should pay reparations to the Allied Powers for the damage and suffering caused by it during the war. Nevertheless it is also recognized that the resources of Japan are not presently sufficient … [Therefore] the Allied Powers waive all reparations claims of the Allied Powers and their nationals arising out of any actions taken by Japan.”
As historian Christopher Simpson put it , the United States thereby insured “that the vict ims of the war – rape camp survivors, slave laborers and POWs – [would] be left with nothing.”
Furthermore, according to the Seagraves, “records of Japan’s looting and economic conspiracy have been removed from Western archives and databases, remain under secret classification and will not be made public for another half-century.”
The cover-up notwithstanding, the Seagraves somehow penetrated the veil of secrecy and reported that the source of the black money that MacArthur bestowed on the Japanese. They wrote that after arriving in Japan, the general’s aides located $100 billion in gold, platinum and other treasures that Hirohito’s forces had systematically plundered from occupied Asian nations and buried deep underground.
When MacArthur reported this to Washington, President Harry S. Truman’s brain trust – which included John McCloy, who as U.S. High Commissioner for Germany would authorize the early release of many Nazi war criminals – decided to devote the fortune to covert operations such as the bankrolling of rightist political parties and the recruitment of war criminals as U.S. intelligence agents for the Cold War that was just beginning.
One of the most notorious crooks MacArthur embraced was yakuza godfather Yoshio Kodama. With the exalted rank of rear admiral in the Japanese navy, Kodama had overseen the wartime looting of Asia’s criminal infrastructure. In the process, he stashed away a personal fortune estimated at $13 billion.
Arrested as a Class A war criminal, he made a deal with MacArthur’s intelligence chief, Gen. Charles Willoughby. Kodama handed the CIA $100 million in return for his release from Sugamo Prison. Returning to the underworld, he regained control of the Asian heroin traffic.
According to the Seagraves and others, he also remained a CIA asset until his death in 1984. It was apparently in that capacity that he became a major behind-the-scenes political force, primarily in Japan but, indirectly, across the Pacific as well.
Together with his fellow racketeer and Class A war criminal Ryoichi Sasakawa, Kodama underwrote the creation of two Japanese political parties that later combined to form the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Except for a brief hiatus when voters had had their fill of corruption, the conservative LDP has ruled Japan ever since. According to sources cited by the Seagraves, the LDP secretly contributed to the 1960 presidential campaign of Richard M. Nixon.
The LDP was not the only organization which Kodama and Sasakawa bankrolled, that lavished the gangsters’ ill-begotten wealth on American politicians. They also underwrote the Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church, which owns the right-wing daily, the Washington Times.
When Gen. Park Chung Hee staged a coup and installed himself as South Korea’s dictator in 1961, he designated the Unification Church to be his political arm. Successive South Korean leaders have used it to influence U.S. foreign policy.
A 1978 congressional inquiry found that Moon’s organization, in coordination with South Korea’s CIA-molded intelligence agency, the KCIA, paid off several U.S. congressmen. Rep. Richard Hanna, D-California, and Otto Passman, D-Louisiana, accepted approximately $200,000 each.
Hanna was slapped with a six-to-30-month sentence and spent a year behind bars. Passman managed to have himself tried in his home town and was acquitted. Fortunately for Reps. Cornelius Gallagher, D-New Jersey, and William Marshall, R-Ohio, the five-year statute of limitations ran out before they could be prosecuted. Three others congressmen were reprimanded for lying about their gifts.
Kodama and Sasakawa, together with followers of Rev. Moon, also underwrote the Asian People’s Anti-Communist League (APACL) as a propaganda mill for the dictatorships of Taiwan and South Korea. In 1966, the APACL expanded to become the World Anti-Communist League (WACL) . European neo-nazi terrorists and Latin American death squad leaders attended WACL conferences in the 1970s and 1980s.
Ronald Reagan – whose 1981 presidential inauguration was attended by the godfather of Central America’s death squads, Mario Sandoval Alarcon – sent the following message to the 1985 WACL convention in Dallas:
“I commend you all for your part in this noble cause. Our combined efforts are moving the tide of history toward world freedom. We must persevere and never falter. I send all you who help in your crusade for liberty my best wishes. God bless you.”
The previous year, Congress had blocked continued White House funding for the counter-revolutionary Nicaraguan contras. Undaunted, the Reagan administration solicited donations from private right-wing sources, including the two organizations that Kodama and Sasakawa had spawned. WACL and the Unification Church each obliged the Reagan team with generous donations that kept the contras afloat.
In that same period, WACL also contributed heavily in the United States to right-wing candidates running against progressive incumbents. One such beneficiary, WACL conferee Steven Symms, unseated the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Frank Church, D-Idaho. A prominent Vietnam War critic, Church had chaired a 1975 Senate investigation that uncovered CIA plots to assassinate foreign leaders.
Putting the pieces of the puzzle together, a picture emerges of CIA-controlled Japanese wartime loot being funneled by Japanese war criminals, via rightist Asian conduit organizations, to American politicians.
Maybe that explains why Washington turns a deaf ear when Japanese officials sanitize their country’s wartime atrocities. After all, the bruised feelings of a couple of billion Asian mainlanders is a small price to pay for keeping a lid on the truth.
Jerry Meldon is an Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org .
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