Psychological Warfare chapter from the book The Lost War
The Lost War, as I have noted in my review of the book, is a very well done and very significant book to read. The chapter on propaganda was so good I have included the entire chapter here with any comments from me in [ ]. I also have altered some paragraphs slightly. I will also be adding some titles for certain sections.
Japan was hopelessly beaten in psychological warfare, not because of any special adroitness on the part of the United Nations, but because the United Nations based their propaganda efforts on truth, whereas Japan was unwilling to deal with the truth, almost from the outset. Propaganda operates much like a highly polished reflector. The reflector can operate only when the light of truth, even though it may at times be somewhat colored, is turned on. In the absence of that light the reflector is useless. Despite their very awkward fumbling in the field of psychological warfare in the first stages, the Allies understood this elementary principle very clearly. Japan’s military leaders did not understand it at all. They expected the reflector to provide its own light, preferably a warm and rosy glow of optimism, and as a result were forced to fight a rear-guard action against truth throughout the war.
The Allies, on the other hand, undertook a truth offensive from the first. Both sides were handicapped by the tremendous difficulty of conveying ideas by any media across the great distances that separated the populations of the warring countries. Language was an immense barrier, but here Japan had something of an advantage in view of the relatively greater knowledge of English among her people compared with the Anglo-American knowledge of the Japanese language. The totalitarian nature of Japan’s Government made absolute control of news-dissemination relatively simple and made possible an almost total blackout on listening to radio broadcasts from abroad.
[This is an important part since total control of the media (pre-Intenet days, if your remember) leaves little chance for the truth to reach the people.]
On the other hand, the Anglo-Americans scorned such controls. Despite these initial advantages, Japan lost her psychological war not only abroad but in the colonial empire she tried to build, and, worst of all, even at home. Initial Japanese propaganda efforts might be regarded as successful at home and in the conquered territories because it was possible to tell the truth without running counter to the obtuse and shortsighted policy of the war leaders that no information should be given out that was unfavorable to Japan, favorable to the enemy, or not in furtherance of the war effort. During the first six months of the war there was nothing but victories to report, and such reports made good reading and good listening. No conflict with the facts was involved, although from time to time the War and Navy Departments did not hesitate to resort to exaggeration or even to devising victory stories out of whole cloth, just to keep the ball rolling.
[In other words, getting the people to believe the party line was not that difficult as long as nothing happened to upset that. When the American plans and ships began attacking various Pacific islands, the people right there might learn the truth, but the news did not get back to Japan and the people there. Once American planes began bombing Japan almost at will, though, the average person finally knew that he had been sold a bill of goods and that the Americans were at their front door. ]
The Allies , on the other hand, were silent on many matters— full information on Pearl Harbor , for example, was long withheld— and this fact was jubilantly pointed out to the Japanese public as proof of Japanese Government claims. America was accused of making piecemeal announcements, but this accusation became a boomerang later when the Japanese Government used the same tactics, for the people had become familiar with the technique and could recognize it readily. For about a year and a half after the start of the war the Japanese people had full trust in announcements from Imperial Headquarters. After each major battle resulting in Japanese victory, radios and loudspeakers blared forth with the Kaigun (Naval) March, which became symbolical of triumphal announcements. As soon as Japan began to suffer military reverses , however , the Army and Navy began weaving the skein of lies, half-truths, and suppressions of truth that eventually entangled them to the point where almost no announcement could be accepted by the public at its full value.
The American landing on Guadalcanal in August 1942 was the first step of an offensive that ended in Tokyo three years later, but Japanese Imperial Headquarters made no announcement of it until November 16, 1942. At that time Headquarters acknowledged that the Americans had landed on Guadalcanal and stated that a fierce battle was in progress. American newscasts were describing the Guadalcanal campaign as the first major Allied counterattack and predicting that it would prove to be the turning-point in the war. Those of us who were privileged to hear American broadcasts and the few Japanese officials who were informed of the contents of such broadcasts were the only persons in Japan who had any information on the subject. Like some news of domestic origin, news received from foreign broadcasts was acknowledged that the Americans had landed on Guadalcanal and stated that a fierce battle was in progress. American newscasts were describing the Guadalcanal campaign as the first major Allied counterattack and predicting that it would prove to be the turning-point in the war.
[Another thing to point out; very few Japanese had the types of radios that could pick up foreign broadcasts and thus they couldn't learn the truth that way.]
Those of us who were privileged to hear American broadcasts and the few Japanese officials who were informed of the contents of such broadcasts were the only persons in Japan who had any information on the subject. Like some news of domestic origin, news received from foreign broadcasts was were captured at the expense of Japanese lives. Announcements of such defeats were made grudgingly, long after the fact, and sometimes not at all except through indirect reference to the geographical disposition of the armed forces. Japanese domestic announcements were not only unconvincing but inconsistent, and they lacked the detail that made American news broadcasts plausible. If the people were to believe the victory announcements they could only conclude that Japan was winning the war.
On the other hand, the Army and Navy continued to generalize to the effect that the situation was serious and that there was no cause for optimism. Battle results, in which the enemy lost many ships and planes, were one thing, the Army and Navy tried to say, while the over-all war situation was something else. Confusion also arose because Army and Navy announcements sometimes conflicted with each other as to facts. Domestic propaganda never went to the length indicated by Allied reports resulting from prisoner-of-war interviews. Commanders at the front may have told their men that New York had been bombed and California invaded— I do not know— but such claims were never made in domestic announcements. Such stories were largely rumor— rumor that the high command did not deny.
The Balloon Bombs
The militarists had one or two aces up their sleeves which they never got a chance to play because the game ended too quickly. Their balloon warfare against the United States was kept an official secret, although after the American bombing of Japan became so intense, a broadcast was permitted, with some elaboration, of the meager American announcements of mysterious
forest fires occurring in the northwest section of the country. Many people had an inkling of the balloon bomb program because two large theaters in downtown Tokyo were taken over for construction of the balloons , which were made of rice paper with glue from potatoes, but the Army hoped that the first announcements of the success of the program would come from the United States. Neither success nor announcements were forthcoming. The balloons were launched from a point in Aomori prefecture in northern Honshu, and the Nippon Newsreel Company was permitted to take pictures of the launchings . When the newsreel company prepared to distribute the pictures, the Army suppressed them. The balloon bombs were one of the major secret weapons with which the Army had hoped to impress the public.
The other was a scheme for bombing New York with rockets fired from submarines, but this plan never achieved technical fruition, and no public announcement was made concerning it. One of the most effective bits of propaganda undertaken by the high command during Newsreel Company was permitted to take pictures of the launchings. The other was a scheme for bombing New York with rockets fired from submarines, but this plan never achieved technical fruition, and no public announcement was made concerning it.
Control of the Newspapers
One of the most effective bits of propaganda undertaken by the high command during should emphasize and what they should play down, where particular stories should appear and with what prominence. This was done as a matter of news coverage and a service to Domei subscribers. The relations of Radio Tokyo and Domei to the Government were closely similar to the relationship of the British Broadcasting Corporation and Reuter’s News Agency to the British Government . There is no truth to charges that Domei was organized as part of the Government’s war plan. Domei did a conscientious job as a news agency until after the war started. Then Domei and all Japanese newspapers became organs of the Government.
It was rumored, but I could never confirm it, that spies of the Kempei Tai were stationed in the Domei office. The Board of Information was responsible for all censorship and as a matter of mechanics distributed press releases for other agencies of the Government, but all of its actions were subject to direct control by the Army and Navy. This dual control of a single agency often became difficult. When the Army announced a victory, the Navy felt it incumbent upon it to announce one at about the same time. Through the Board became organs of the Government. Through the Board resulted in suggestions for a more subtle approach to the problem of domestic propaganda; but this advice continued to be ignored. An unsuccessful effort was made to have all information activities centralized under the Board of Information. Late in the war the separate Army and Navy releases were dropped in name, but separate press sections for each remained. After the Koiso Cabinet was organized, there was a slight diminution of the censorship that prevailed under Tojo, and it was relaxed still more under the Suzuki Cabinet, but even then the whole truth was never told; the difference was one of degree rather than kind. The Government gradually ceased claiming that defeats were victories, but the significant facts of Japan’s waning military and economic strength were still withheld.
The public’s reaction to the Government’s information policies was clearly reflected in a public-opinion poll that Domei undertook in the late stages of the war. This was one of several public -opinion polls that were carried on under my direction. At first they were carried on despite strong disapproval from some Government quarters, but later they received governmental encouragement because the war leaders finally became convinced that knowledge of public opinion was of value to them. Of course, the results were not published, but merely distributed to the principal Government agencies concerned.
In the Domei poll just mentioned , inquiry was made as to what changes in governmental policy might be desired. Almost one hundred per cent of those polled expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of information and with the misinformation emanating from official sources and urged that more facts concerning the war be made public. Too late the Japanese people were learning that checks and balances that might have prevented the war in the first place were lost when free speech and free press were relinquished.
Some aspects of Japan’s foreign-propaganda effort were more subtle and perhaps more successful than the domestic program. Efforts directed at American troops, while accomplishing nothing that could be measured by a definitive yardstick, were certainly better conceived . The “Zero Hour” with Tokyo Rose won great popularity among American troops at the front. During much of the war its producers were careful to keep it free from obvious propaganda, and it was submitted as pure entertainment, with American songs and orchestrations that could not easily be heard from any other source. The cynical theory behind the show was to play on the well-known disposition of troops to become homesick.
Finally the Army began to feel that it was a waste of time and insisted that a certain amount of more obvious propaganda be introduced. It is doubtful if the program accomplished any purpose thereafter.
One other propaganda device that was used by Radio Tokyo with some success was the exploitation of prisoner-of-war broadcasts. Statements by prisoners of war, in which they were given an opportunity to send messages home provided they said nothing unfavorable concerning their treatment, were recorded and broadcast to the United States. Letters, with names and addresses, were read over the air, and the listeners were assured that the writers were safe and well. In comparison with Allied efforts of the same sort, Japan more or less failed to exploit atrocity stories as a means of stimulating public hatred toward the United Nations. As a matter of fact, the Government had a difficult time in finding plausible material for atrocity stories .
Because of the peculiarly Japanese tradition that soldiers never surrender , one of the best opportunities of the war in this direction was deliberately passed up. On August 5, 1944 Prime Minister Curtin of Australia announced that 900 Japanese prisoners of war had revolted and that 221 either had been shot or had killed themselves. More than ten barracks , he said, had been burned to the ground. Not a word of this was permitted to reach the Japanese people, because it had been dinned into the public so long and earnestly that there were no Japanese prisoners; all had died fighting.
Although casualty figures were minimized, this policy of teaching the public that Japanese soldiers never surrendered created obvious inferences when announcements were made of the loss of such island strong points as Saipan, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa . So many families, too, received individual notices from the War Department of the death of a son or husband that the public became uneasily aware that the casualty rate was high. Men returned from the front also helped to nullify the Government’s policy. We learned, for instance, that of fifty Domei staff members in the Philippines at the start of the American invasion, thirty-three died of starvation, malaria, or other disease. Of one group of eight Domei men driven into the jungles east of Manila, seven died.
The most effective type of atrocity propaganda was a whispering campaign, supported by ominous newspaper hints, that in the event of an American invasion, the only thing left for a self-respecting Japanese would be to die for his country. It was taken for granted that the invaders would destroy the male population and make all women their mistresses, or at least rape them. After the Okinawa campaign there were many Tokyo residents who firmly believed that every female on Okinawa had been raped by an American soldier. The official propaganda line, however, dealt with the newly discovered barbaric and uncivilized nature of Americans generally.
[What this led to was numerous suicides among the Okinawa people who threw themselves off cliffs, thinking the Americans would rape and murder them. Obviously the Japanese atrocities, such as the vile conditions in their POW camps, the rape of Nanking and Unit 731 were kept from the Japanese people.
Vivid and imaginative details were repeated over and over concerning the American dispossession and mistreatment of Indians; statistics were given on the lynching of Negroes; Hollywood’s portrayal of gangsterism and crime was redrawn in even more lurid colors as typical of everyday life in the average American city. Those of us who had been to America were encouraged to write about the dark side of the war effort there— the rubber shortage, rationing difficulties, production troubles, the “Battle of Washington” conflict in Congress, strikes, mobilization snags, two-front troubles, the naval defeat at Pearl Harbor.
As the American bombing pattern shifted from military targets to mass fire raids, much propaganda capital was made of the deaths of women and children . This effort, which was based on self-evident facts, was relatively successful in stirring up a spirit of hatred and in supporting the contention that Americans were barbarians at heart. The Government announced that hospital ships, plainly marked, had been sunk by American aviators. Wide publicity was given to an American announcement that a paper knife, made from the bone of a slain Japanese soldier, had been presented to President Roosevelt, who refused it. Throughout the war there was not a single mention of any atrocity by Japanese soldiers. No soldier was punished in a public trial for an offense against the laws of war, and no officer was ever called to account publicly.
On the other hand, Japanese soldiers were photographed giving candy and food to children and opening schools in the occupied areas. There were, of course, thoughtful Japanese who were well acquainted with America and Great Britain and who discounted much of what they heard.
They had also seen enough of the arrogance of the military class at home to wonder about the conduct of their own troops in the field. Many people were apprehensively aware of punished in a public trial for an offense against the laws of war, and no officer was ever called to account publicly. On the other hand, Japanese soldiers were photographed giving candy and food to children and opening schools in the occupied areas. There were, of course, thoughtful Japanese who were well acquainted with America and Great Britain and who discounted much of what they heard.
They had also seen enough of the arrogance of the military class at home to wonder about the conduct of their own troops in the field. Many people were apprehensively aware of new conquerors of the Southwest Pacific had destroyed one economy without substituting another. Japan, forced to devote every ounce of her strength and to exploit every available resource in a vain effort to defend her military position, could produce no effective countermeasure.
It is true that Japan had some temporary successes, particularly during the period of military conquest. The Hindus, the Indonesians , and the Burmese were widely inspired with the spirit of revolt against their white masters. They believed the time had come to achieve overnight the independence to which they had aspired vainly under the domination of the white race. In his tours of the southern and western Pacific Prime Minister Tojo met with revolutionary leaders and pledged independence for their peoples . The Philippines , which had never achieved full independence under American rule, were declared independent, and a puppet Government was created. The climax of Japan’s effort in the conquered territories was the Greater Far Eastern Conference held in Tokyo in the fall of 1943, attended by revolutionary leaders from Burma, India, Java, and the Philippines. Premier Tojo and other Japanese officials made speeches intended to cement the delegates into a united racial front, but the whole proceeding had an artificial ring, made more evident by the fact that Japan was at that time suffering military and naval reverses. This bit of poor timing was consistent with the slow tempo of the conference, which deprived it of all dramatic effect . The affair soon bogged down in red tape, lack of co-ordination between the Government departments sponsoring it, and the insistence of the Army that it be permitted to make all decisions without considering the advice of skilled civilian diplomats.
My personal estimate was that Japanese propaganda failed most in the Philippines and was most successful among the Burmese. Successes were due primarily to racial appeal and promises; failure was due to inability to replace the flow of Western goods that the Anglo-Americans had provided, and either an incapacity or unwillingness to make good on promises. Especially in the Philippines, where American automobiles, refrigerators, and other conveniences had been suddenly cut off, were the natives quick to lose confidence in Japanese talk of prosperity. In New Guinea, Japanese troops found that the natives were interested in immediate needs rather than such long-range ideals as Asia for the Asiatics. They wanted food, medicines, and other supplies and had no interest in sacrificing themselves for the sake of idealism, from whatever source it might spring. They made it clear that they could not eat ideas, and since the Japanese Army was in no position to import much in the way of material goods, it wasn’t long before the “liberated territories ” began to long for the good old days.
The Japanese Army also found that the occupation currency that it carried into the newly won territories was of no more use than unfulfilled promises. In Rabaul the Army employed Papuan natives to build airfields and other defensive installations. They paid a shilling a day for common labor, which compared with the two or three shillings that a Papuan might have earned in an entire year before the war. Payment was made in military currency, and Papuans were delighted with the colorful pictures when they received their first money. The second time they were paid they objected on the ground that they already had copies of those pictures. They insisted on some other type of payment, and the Army was forced to use needed shipping space to import trade goods. While attempting to woo the peoples of the newly conquered territory, Japan was simultaneously redoubling its efforts to conciliate the Chinese people and to weaken their adherence to the Chungking Government.
Repeated peace overtures were made to Chungking in the hope that Japan would be able to peg down its important gains in China and turn its full strength eastward. It was an open secret that an indirect liaison was maintained with the Chungking Government through missions established at Shanghai and Hong Kong during the war. Domei was responsible not only for receiving foreign broadcasts but for preparing news broadcasts for foreign consumption. As vice-chief of Domei’s overseas bureau for a little more than a year, I was required to prepare many dispatches aimed at the pacification of the Chinese people.
“American government leaders,” I wrote on February 20, 1943 , “are either failing or refusing to see the new situation being created in Sino-Japanese relations, wherein Japan is putting into practice what the Anglo-American Governments have long been promising China only in words and thereby Chungking has lost all reason for resisting Japan. Japan’s policy with regard to China has made remarkable progress and might even be said to have reached a new turning-point. Japan’s policy might best be termed a positive step to encourage China to establish a responsible government for the Chinese, who today realize the common destiny of China and Japan in East Asia and the birth of a real Asia for Asiatics . That policy isn’t a mere promise or temporary action to meet the exigencies of the war situation, but is definitely a constructive step to build up a new China. The Japanese and Chinese people never realized so much as they do presently their interdependence and need for full co-operation. The war with China was a pity, but through the war Japan and China have been brought closer to each other in understanding. Today every Chinese realizes that but for Japan the Chinese nation would long ago have been made a colony for some Western power or powers.”
There was a lot more like that, but the foregoing is a typical sample of Japan’s propaganda line during most of the war. Propaganda beamed toward America ran something like this example from a broadcast of December 19, 1942 that I prepared: “Franklin Roosevelt for years before December 8, 1941 played a grand game of bluff to the limit, satisfied that the nation was prepared for war with Japan and equally convinced that he was able easily to drag the American people into the mad venture should he be forced to take the plunge. Almost public knowledge was the fact that Roosevelt divulged to men close to the administration during the final stages of Japanese-American negotiations his firm conviction that he would easily be able, should the eventuality arise, to drag the American people into war against Japan. “Franklin Roosevelt has all the makings of a politician. As a politician Roosevelt has a tendency to be a showman with a propensity for indulging his whims of the moment and to play up to the political fashions of the day. In both domestic and international affairs Roosevelt has committed grave errors of judgment leading to serious blunders due to this impulsive temperamental trait. A striking example may be seen in the Roosevelt-Churchill sea conference aboard the ill-fated Prince of Wales, when the so-called Atlantic Charter was drafted. It is clear that Churchill at this time obtained what England desired, merely by satisfying Roosevelt’s vanity. What Churchill obtained, of course, was United States entry into war.”
Japan’s failure to understand fully that warfare is political as well as military was one of the most serious of the blunders made by her military leadership. The high command could conceive of war in no other terms than to fight on to military victory or military defeat. After the south had been conquered, Japan might have used the radio to go behind the Anglo-American leaders in an effort to persuade the enemy peoples to accept a compromise peace immediately.
Attractive concessions, which still would have left Japan’s position as strong as ever, might have been offered and might at least have caused confusion and uncertainty in the British and American ranks at a time was one of the most serious of the blunders made by her military leadership.
When the bombing of Japan became intense and tens of thousands of civilians died in a single raid, the execution of captured airmen as a retaliatory or terroristic measure was again discussed. This time, with the Tojo Cabinet long since ousted and Japan skidding toward defeat, the idea was rejected.
The British and Americans were successful in political warfare because they understood its importance far better than the Japanese militarists. The Allies had at all times a concrete political program which was well understood by the world and against which Japan had only untried experiments to offer. Their most effective political devices were the conferences at Cairo, Teheran, Yalta, and Potsdam. The Institute of Pacific Relations conference at Hot Springs in January 1945 was also a source of effective political propaganda.
At first the Japanese Government attempted to give out as much news of these conferences as possible, but everything considered to be detrimental to domestic morale was withheld from publication, with the result that the suppressed fact* spread by word of mouth with greater effect than if there had been full announcement of the details. This same policy of suppression was applied to the Yalta declaration with unfortunate results. The time had come, many of us believed, to publish the full truth and to begin preparing the public for ultimate defeat, but the militarists refused to listen. Long before Yalta—months before, in fact —some of us who had access to the facts about the world situation had begun to hold meetings to discuss ways and means of preparing Japan for inevitable defeat and the postwar problems certain to be encountered.
U.S. efforts at radio propaganda failed at first
This group included several Foreign Office officials, university professors, and newspapermen, who met weekly for luncheon, sometimes while bombs were falling. We met more or less openly after the spring of 1945, but we were not in a position to give advice where it was most needed. America’s efforts at radio propaganda in the early phases of the war were pathetically ineffectual, particularly since the Japanese public was completely deaf to them. I heard broadcasts from KGEI, San Francisco, now and then, and I always marveled at the patience of those who prepared and broadcast the programs of music, news, and general commentary.
The invariable American accent of commentators and announcers who spoke in Japanese was unmistakable, and no Japanese listener could have failed to have an instinctive resistance to such broadcasts had he been able to hear them. By and large, the voices coming from KGEI sounded like Koreans rather than Japanese. Much of the Japanese language, supposedly aimed at the ordinary listening public, was as archaic as Chaucer . For example, KGEI speakers consistently used the word kassen for war, although the word is obsolete; sento is the modem word . Any Japanese who heard such a broadcast would immediately associate it with something foreign to Japan. After the fall of Saipan, American radio began to be a great annoyance to Japanese officials because of “buzzer” jamming tactics, chiefly employed at night during Japanese news broadcasts. Although it was rumored that the Saipan radio could be heard in the southern areas of Japan, such as Kyushu, it is doubtful that the volume was sufficient to be effective. The Japanese were forced to resort to jamming in turn to guard against reception of the Saipan broadcasts. A number of small provincial stations were set up to reduce the broadcast distance of local programs , thus reducing the possibility of American jamming. Saipan was a matter of concern chiefly because it broadcast on medium wave, which Japanese listeners were equipped to receive. San Francisco, on the other hand, used short-wave, and short-wave receiving sets were forbidden in Japan during the war. I never understood the failure of the Allies to set up a new medium-wave propaganda station on Iwo Jima after that island was captured, because broadcasts from there would have been most effective. Japan’s method of financing radio broadcasts contributed to the effectiveness of governmental control. Every radio-owner was required by law to post a on medium wave, which Japanese listeners were equipped to receive. San Francisco, on the other hand, used short-wave, and short-wave receiving sets were forbidden in Japan during the war. I never understood the failure of the Allies to set up a new medium-wave propaganda station on Iwo Jima after that island was captured, because broadcasts from there would have been most effective. Japan’s method of financing radio broadcasts contributed to the effectiveness of governmental control. Every radio-owner was required by law to post a might be willing to surrender. These were not regarded as a serious threat, but home officials began to be concerned when the Americans dropped their first leaflets on civilian areas in Formosa in October 1944.
American Leaflets and various problems with them
These early leaflets were inadequate and ineffective in their appeals to the people to give up the war and surrender, largely because of defective translations, which seemed still to plague the Allied propaganda effort. One of these leaflets showed a crude picture of a woman throwing her baby into the river, with the explanation that in ancient Japan the problem of overpopulation was solved by abandoning the newborn. Now, the leaflet said, the burden of population was being relieved by thinning out the young men through war. The idea would have served the Allied purpose except that the word mabiki was used for “thin out.” This is an obsolete word as used in the sense intended. Its modem use refers only to gardening or to the removal or destruction of houses for creation of fire lanes or other open spaces. Another example was the use of shokko-shokun for workers, an archaic term that has been replaced in Japanese speech by koin-shokun. Drawings on these early leaflets made them an object of ridicule. All Japanese wear the kimono with the right side over the left, but in the pictures on the propaganda leaflets the reverse was portrayed. A picture of a worker at his meal showed his chopsticks placed on either side of his plate, like a knife and fork, whereas the Japanese lay them parallel at the base of the plate. The Japanese wear the string of their geta between the big toe and the next toe, but the American propaganda drawings showed a Japanese wearing geta with the string next to the middle toe . Such minor discrepancies destroyed whatever effect the leaflets
might otherwise have had. Even in translating such important slogans as “freedom of speech” and “freedom from want” the Americans showed an awkwardness that lost them essential respect. “Freedom of speech” should be translated as genron no jiyu, but the leaflets called it “Gengo no jiyu,” which means “freedom of words.” “Freedom from want” should be ketsuobo yori no jiyu, but in the leaflets it was “yokubo yorino jiyu” which means “freedom from desire.”
Later, improved leaflets
Later, however, as the bombers moved closer and closer, these crudities were eliminated, and the leaflets , particularly those which announced a list of cities that were to be next bombed, won a respectful and attentive audience. Improvement was particularly to be noted in the leaflets that carried those excerpts from the Potsdam declaration suppressed by the Japanese Government, and President Truman’s ultimatum. These were done with professional smoothness in a manner that could be understood by any educated person and without any foreign taint. The Japanese people were strictly forbidden to possess any of the leaflets. When they found them they were supposed to turn them over to the police, but after the “advance-notice bombing” began, there were few persons who turned their leaflets in, and the police were forced virtually to abandon enforcement of the prohibition because of mass violations . The leaflets fluttered down day after day in the spring and summer of 1945. Usually they were dropped over Tokyo by a single plane, flying high and moving across the sky so rapidly that it was out of sight by the time anyone noticed the leaflets falling . There was usually little or no anti-aircraft on such occasions. The leaflets looked at first like a small, fleecy cloud, high in the sky. As they fluttered earthward they spread out over the whole city, sparkling in the sunlight, and finally falling on the streets and sidewalks , in gardens and on roof-tops, everywhere at once. Sometimes a box full of the leaflets would fail to open after being dropped from the plane and would plummet to earth like a bomb. The police would frantically seize the bundles, but such efforts at suppression were useless, because others were dropped by the millions and spread to every corner of the home islands. I still have one of the bomb warnings as a souvenir.
About six by eight inches in size and printed in blue, it shows on its face a spectacular photograph of B -29’ s dropping a shower of incendiaries. Inside twelve small circles are inscribed the characters for twelve Japanese cities, including Mito and Hachioji, near Tokyo. On the reverse of the leaflet appears the following script in Japanese under the caption “Appeal to the People”: “Do you wish to save the lives of your parents, brothers, and friends ? If you do, read this leaflet very carefully. “Within a few days military establishments in the cities mentioned on the back of this sheet will be bombed by the American Air Forces. In these cities there are military establishments and arms factories. The American Air Force must destroy all armaments that the Japanese militarists are using in order to prolong a war that has no chance of victory for Japan. However, bombs have no eyes, and there is no knowing where they may fall. As you know, America, which stands for humanity, does not wish to injure the innocent people, so you had better evacuate these cities. “You are not the enemy of America. Our enemy is the Japanese militarist who has dragged you into the war. “We believe that peace will make you free from the oppression of the militarists , and a better Japan will then be born anew.”
So many people read the leaflets that the Government could not ignore them. Daily it dinned into the ears of an increasingly skeptical people that their duty was to ignore the leaflets because they were mere enemy propaganda. Despite the Government’s efforts, families read them aloud, at night, by carefully concealed candlelight, and each Government denial of the statements contained in the leaflets gave rise to new disbelief of official announcements. Propaganda efforts are often closely associated with intelligence operations. The war between Japan and the Anglo-American powers was probably more devoid of the traditional spy than any other in history. Aside from strictly military intelligence, acquired by ground and air reconnaissance, neither side knew much about the internal secrets of the other, except that the Anglo-Americans were quite open in discussing their own economic and
The Japanese were somewhat more secretive—so much so that the Army and Navy usually concealed facts from each other. Both sides were handicapped, so far as espionage was concerned , by the fact that an agent for either could be readily spotted by his racial characteristics. America had something of an advantage in this respect. Her Nisei could mingle among the Japanese population without too much suspicion, while a Japanese in America was subject to immediate unfavorable notice, even though he might be a citizen of that country .
Japan was nevertheless extremely spy-conscious, and much domestic propaganda dealt with warning against disclosure of information to strangers. Posters were widely distributed to portray the famed example of the three monkeys—“ Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.” At first, whenever a major war plant was bombed by the Allies, rumors were circulated that its location had been furnished the enemy by spies, and security measures were intensified, but it is probable that most of this information came from aerial reconnaissance. There was a persistent rumor that one group had been arrested for maintaining radio contact with the enemy, but I was never able to confirm this, and I am doubtful of its truth. During the war the only cases of execution for espionage involved two individuals who were arrested before the war started. One of these happened to be a good friend of mine, Hidemi Ozaki, a former reporter for Asahi Shimbun, with whom I was associated in Shanghai around 1929. He was convicted and executed as a spy of the Comintern, but I have never believed that he was guilty. A German named Zorge was executed as an alleged collaborator. Tatsuo Nishizato was sentenced to life imprisonment as a Communist during the war, but he was released by General MacArthur along with other political prisoners after the war was over. He went to work for Kyodo News Service, the successor to Domei as the “A.P. of Japan.”
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