Affidavit of Claude R. Lewis
Documents Japs hiding of records in mines

Akenobe Main

Source: NARA Rg 331 Box 921; Akenobe File
Summary: Lewis documents that the Japanese hid file cabinets and boxes of records in the Akenobe mine.

Private First Class
U.S. Marine Corps
Serial 270874

State of California (State Seal)
County of Los Angeles

CLAUDE R. LEWIS, being duly sworn deposes and says:
1. I am 28 years old and my permanent home address is 7007 Menlo Avenue, Los Angeles, California. I am and at all times hereinafter mentioned was a member of the armed forces of the United States and am now a Private First Class, United States Marine Corps, Serial No, 270874.

2. I was a prisoner of war of Japan at the following times and places:

a. At Bataan, April 9, 1942, about 12 days.
b. At Camp O'Donnell, April 1942 to May 1942. [4th Marines]
c. At Cabanatuan, Luzon, May 1942 to Sept. 1943. [Transit to Japan on Koho Maru a.k.a. Coral Maru]
d. At Camp Sakurjima (sic) in Osaka, Japan from Sept. 1943 to May 1945.
e. At Akenobe, Japan, from May 1945 to my liberation on 3 Sept. 1945.

3. I desire to offer the following information in the hope that it may lead to the discovery of important Japanese papers and documents which I believe that Japanese have desired to hide so that the Americans authorities would not be able to examine them.
In August 1945 I was a prisoner of war at Akenobe, Japan, which is located about twenty miles up the valley from Yoka. I was forced to work in the copper mines which were owned by the MITSUBISHI Mining Corporation and operated by that company under government jurisdiction. These mines are mostly operated for the copper found there. Akenobe is located directly at the bottom of the mountain side where the mines in which I worked are located.
The last day that we worked in the mines was the 13th of August 1945. For approximately ten days prior to the 13th I saw the mining cable car bring numerous filing cabinets and other containers from the terminal of the cable car at the bottom of the mountain. Some of the filing cabinets were made of metal and others of wood. The filing cabinets had various locks which were built into the cabinets and which had been used to lock them. Some of the cabinets were rather small and others were large, like thise used in the modern offices in the United States. The cabinets from outside appearances seemed to have sliding drawers. Most of them were olive green in color. I addition to the cabinets, there were numerous wooden boxes which were brought up the hill by cable car. The boxes were of various sizes and shapes; some were nailed shut; others were tied with grass rope, and some were both nailed and tied. Actually, I did not see the contents of the boxes or cabinets, but when reflecting upon the matter recently it seems entirely possible that they contain important records which the Japs wanted to hide away from the United States authorities.
On several occasions during this ten-day period I actually helped unload the cabinets and boxes from the cable car and put them on the small ore cars which were later rolled on tracks into the mines. During some of this ten-day period the stream of boxes and cabinets seemed constant; on other days there would be only a load or two in the morning and another in the afternoon.

All of the boxes and cabinets which I observed were rolled in the ore cars into the No.1 Mine. A part of this mine is said to be 2000 years old; it contains many shafts and lateral passages. The present active portion of the mine was said to have been started 300 years ago. Because of the maze of tunnels and shafts, the mine could seem to be an ideal place to hide records from an enemy.

October 19, 1945

/S/ Claude R. Lewis

Subscribed and sworn to before me this 22nd day of October, 1945.
/S/ Jack O. Goldsmith
Lieutenant (jg), USNR

On 11 August 1945 the records of the main office of the MITSUBISHI Mining Corporation were taken from the office of the mine. This main office is located on the middle level of the mining operations in the same area as the large machine shop and electric car repair shop. All of the office records were removed during the course of one long working day. Some of the records were contained in two steel filing cabinets, while most of them were placed in unpainted wooden boxes. Some of these records contain the material on us prisoners of war, as we checked in and out of this main office of the mining company. These records were also put into the ore cars and rolled into the No.1 Mine.

Other prisoners of war, including Englishmen and Australians, remarked about the thoroughness with which the records were removed from the office. The electric car pulled them into the mine and I do not believe that any Allied Personnel knew where the records were actually deposited within the mine. Some of the tracks going into the No. 1 Mine emerged on the other side of the hill before entering into the other mines farther distant.

About three weeks before 13 August 1945 a quantity of mining equipment was brought to the No. 1 Mine, reportedly from the No. 2 and No. 3 mines, which included used ore cars and also a new electric-type engine with overhead trolley, which was used for transportation in the open air between the mine shafts. This new engine was left in a shed which constituted a portion of the building that housed machinery for operating the mine car. This was on the middle level of the mining operations.

I do not know the name of anyone who could give more detailed information concerning the matters above.