The Japan Times Online Sign inRegister
Home > News 求人ならリクナビNEXT
print button email button AddThis Social Bookmark Button Answer Tips

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Navy orders to destroy papers found

LONDON (Kyodo) The Imperial Japanese Navy's orders to destroy wartime documents and items associated with Emperor Hirohito following the country's 1945 surrender have been unearthed in Britain by a Japanese academic.

The discovery at the National Archives in London is significant because it is probably the first time precise details of the instructions from Japan's navy have been revealed, because as well as burning all the documentation and Imperial connections, military personnel were told to destroy the actual orders telling them to do so, said Hirofumi Hayashi, a professor of Japanese history at Kanto Gakuin University who discovered the documents.

The find is also important because it is thought to be the first time orders relating to the disposal of Imperial items have been found, experts said.

This suggests the navy wanted to protect the Emperor from prosecution for war crimes, academics said.

It has long been known that the military destroyed the vast majority of its wartime documents, but hard evidence of an orchestrated plan had been lacking. Up until this recent find, a few navy orders turned up, but researchers are delighted with this new find given the volume of information and detail involved.

The orders to Japanese ships and outposts in China and Southeast Asia were intercepted by Britain, which had cracked the secret codes. Many of the messages, apparently word-for-word translations, were sent by commanders a few days after Japan's surrender on Aug. 15, 1945.

The orders were sent between Aug. 16 and 22 and tell officers to burn anything that would be useful to the enemy. Items listed for destruction include all personnel records, diaries, flags, code books, details of interrogations, radios and enemy aircraft equipment. However, military personnel are told to retain all prisoner of war documents.

Yutaka Yoshida, a professor of Japanese history at Hitotsubashi University, said he believes the orders were sent out because Japanese officials were concerned about being tried for war crimes.

Yoshida said that in Germany most documents were saved and this made it easier for the Allies to prosecute war criminals. However, because much of the documentation was burned in Japan — the military had around two weeks to destroy papers before the Allies entered the country — evidence was based mainly on testimony.

We welcome your opinions. Click to send a message to the editor.

The Japan Times

Article 9 of 12 in National news

Previous Next

Japan Info Guide
Links for living in Japan

A piece of your mind
Extraterrestrial life
"The Science of Aliens" exhibition at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Tokyo looks at the fact and fiction of extraterrestrial life. Are we alone or is anybody out there?
In this vast universe we can't be the only intelligent lifeforms.
Aliens are nothing but sci-fi fodder.
They're not just out there, they're already here.
If the government says they exist, who am I to doubt it?
Total Votes : 500
View past polls
Back to Top

About us |  Work for us |  Contact us |  Privacy policy |  Link policy |  Registration FAQ
Advertise in
This site is optimized for viewing with Netscape, version 7.1 or Internet Explorer, version 6.0 or above.
The Japan Times Ltd. All rights reserved.