Society for the Dissemination of Historical Fact

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By Moteki Hiromichi,


Was the Japanese strike on Pearl Harbor a sneak attack? Was Japan an aggressor nation in World War II?

These are weighty questions. However, my intent in writing this book was not to address them in great detail, as anyone who has read the Foreword can see.

Still, I see no reason to go to great lengths to avoid any mention of these topics. After all, at a recent televised debate among political party leaders, Shii Kazuo, chairman of the JCP (Japanese Communist Party), maintained that in going to war against the Allies, Japan was embarking on world conquest. Such a pronouncement begs for comment. Moreover, since Japan’s mainstream historians operate under communist thrall, it would be foolish to ignore such an outburst. For that reason, I will briefly describe my thoughts on these matters.

The panic of 1929 and the Smoot-Hawley Tariff
What was the primary cause of World War II? When we search for the answer to this question, all paths lead to the panic that began with the Wall Street stock market crash on Black Thursday, October 24, 1929.

Figure 1 shows the massive effect of that market crash on industrial production in the world’s nations.

Figure 1: Transitions in Industrial Production Caused by the Great Depression

Year US UK France Germany Japan USSR
1928 93 94 92 99 90 79
1929 100* 100* 100* 100* 100* 100*
1930 81 92 100 86 95 131
1931 68 84 86 68 92 161
1932 54 84 72 53 98 183
1933 64 88 81 61 113 196
1934 66 99 75 80 128 238
1935 76 106 73 94 142 293
(*Baseline figures)

By 1932 industrial production in the US had plunged to nearly 50% of its pre-depression level in 1929.

The problem here is the American policy response to this economic crisis, which could not help but exert considerable influence on the rest of the world. The average tariff rate increased to approximately 40%, resulting in a decline in exports to the US, and a worsening of the worldwide depression.

That policy, an extremely self-centered one, was shaped by legislation passed by the US Congress on June 17, 1930. Called the Smoot-Hawley Tariff, the law raised tariffs on more than 20,000 imported goods to a record-breaking high.

Of all the US’ trading partners, Japan suffered the heaviest blow. In 1929 45% percent of Japan’s total exports were bound for the US in contrast to only 18.4% in 1934. Japan managed to weather that storm by expanding its export destinations, but the Americans’ grasping, protectionist policy set the stage for the formation of economic blocs.

Proliferation of economic blocs leads to fragmentation of world’s markets
In 1932 the United Kingdom introduced the British Preference Tariff system and formed the sterling bloc. In 1933 the French formed the franc bloc, and the Dutch followed in their footsteps with the Netherlands bloc. The US had a dollar bloc that included Central and South America. By setting preferential tariffs that distinguished between members and non-members, the bloc policy protected the members of a bloc and restricted imports from non-member states.

The conventional wisdom is that the British Commonwealth was the first to create an economic bloc, but actually it was the US. The US had the largest market in the world, far larger than the franc bloc or other blocs. To use the language of economics, by introducing high tariffs, the Americans were creating an economic bloc. They were also motivating other nations of the world to follow their lead.

The free-trade system was fragmented by economic-bloc barriers, and the world’s markets became increasingly protectionist. Nations that suffered most from the new order were those without spheres of influence (colonies, for instance), meaning have-not nations like Japan, Germany, and Italy.

The have-not nations were forced into a situation that was a far cry from market liberalism. The so-called advanced nations that had once touted the merits of free trade had abandoned the free-trade system. Therefore, “freedom” was now an empty word to the countries that had been excluded. This was a rude awakening for Japan. The budding dream of Taisho democracy, or political liberalism, had been shattered.

The Stimson Doctrine
When the Japanese took control of Manchuria, they intended to form a bloc called the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere in partnership with China. This was a very natural step to take, especially in light of the other blocs that had been formed. But US Secretary of State Henry L. Stimson (later secretary of war) issued what became known as the Stimson doctrine in January 1932. According to this “doctrine,” the US refused to acknowledge Japanese interests in Manchuria. Never mind that the Americans had already created their own sphere of influence in South and Central America, which they called the Monroe Doctrine. By its rejection of Japan’s actions in Manchuria (which mirrored those that the US had taken), the Americans were revealing exactly how selfish, or more accurately, how discriminatory their policies were.

After the Russo-Japanese War, President Theodore Roosevelt acknowledged Japan’s application of the Monroe Doctrine in Asia, saying that “a ‘Japanese Monroe Doctrine’ in Asia will remove the temptation to European encroachment, and Japan will be recognized as the leader of Asiatic nations, and her power will form the shield behind which they can reorganize their national system.” However, Stimson adamantly refused to do so. His refusal marked a turning point and set the stage for antagonism between Japan and the US.

Comintern embraces revolutionary defeatism
In any case, it had clearly become impossible to ease the friction among the world’s economies caused by the trade blocs, or to correct the resulting distorted structure through peaceful negotiations. Only through war could the underlying problems be resolved.

Enter the Comintern (Communist International). The organization aimed to foment war, in which it would play a leading role, in the hope that their formula, revolutionary defeatism, would achieve their goal. The aforementioned Shii Kazuo believes that most people are unaware of that, and spouts fallacious “facts,” such as the one about Japan’s seeking to gain control of the entire world.

In contrast, the Comintern was plotting to spread communism throughout the world by inciting wars wherever possible. The organization crafted a very clever policy, a plot really, whereby it would instigate conflicts while pretending to be opposed to war.

Recently report after report has revealed that there was a communist front in the form of over 200 Comintern plants among the ranks of American leaders advocating peace at the time. We know that they insinuated themselves into positions in the US government from the Venona papers. The fact is that communists were a belligerent force that professed an abhorrence of war.

Americans abrogate Japan-US treaty
On July 26, 1939 the US abruptly announced its abrogation of the Treaty of Commerce and Navigation between the US and Japan. The reason given for this action was equivocal and vague. Under such circumstances, one would expect the Americans to terminate similar pacts with other nations as well, but that was not the case. The treaty with Japan was the sole target of perfunctory abrogation. As an article in the July 28, 1939 edition of the Manchester Guardian stated, “The warning is all the more serious because the denouncing of a commercial treaty for political reasons is almost unheard of in American diplomatic history.”

The US government’s real reason for ending the treaty was to help China in its conduct of the Second Sino-Japanese War by halting the export of munitions to Japan. Since the Americans could not state that purpose in their notice to the Japanese government, they resorted to subterfuge.

Previously, high tariffs were imposed to set limits on imports. But this move on the part of the Americans went one step (politically, several steps) further. By refusing to sell goods that Japan needed, the US was on its way to creating an economic blockade. It was perfectly reasonable for the Japanese to believe that the termination of the treaty was the prelude to a declaration of war.

Since Japan has few natural resources, it must import them and many types of goods from other nations. The US was a very important supplier of goods destined for Japan. In 1940 36% of imports to Japan originated in the US. Therefore, refusing to sell to Japan was tantamount to depriving Japan of essential goods. By imposing an economic blockade, the US was seizing control of Japan’s destiny. For Japan, petroleum was critically important, as was a wide range of other products, such as scrap iron, alloys, steel, steel products, machinery.

Was the Pearl Harbor strike a sneak attack?
Roosevelt used the Pearl Harbor strike to great advantage. He condemned the attack, calling it a sneak attack, because it was launched prior to a declaration of war. The American people, most of whom opposed US involvement in the war, believed his words of incitement, and were cleverly transformed into an angry mob determined to “kill the Japs!”

But thanks to investigations conducted by the US Congress and researchers at a later date, we now know with almost 100% certainty that Roosevelt goaded the Japanese into attacking Pearl Harbor, out of his desire to involve the US in World War II via the “back door.” Research conducted by Georgetown University Professor Charles Callan Tansill led him to the conclusion that there was an unequivocal conspiracy among US government officials that provoked the Japanese into attacking Pearl Harbor. In Back Door to War: Roosevelt Foreign Policy 1933-1941, Tansill, a historian, writes:

The entry in [Secretary of War Stimson’s] Diary for November 25, 1941, is illuminating. With regard to Japan “the question is how we should maneuver them into the position of firing the first shot without allowing too much danger to ourselves.” On the following day Secretary [of State Cordell] Hull answered this question by submitting an ultimatum that he knew Japan could not accept. The Japanese attack upon Pearl Harbor fulfilled the fondest hopes of the Roosevelt Cabinet. It was easy now to denounce Japanese perfidy and to exult in the fact that the shock of the tragedy had erased all divisions of opinion in America.

We must be mindful that the first stage of the war between Japan and the US was not the strike on Pearl Harbor, but the sudden termination of the commerce and navigation treaty. Also significant were subsequent actions taken by the US — limitations on and then prohibitions against exporting munitions to Japan, and the freezing of Japanese assets in the US on July 28, 1941.

In Freedom Betrayed, former President Herbert Hoover wrote that the US was thrown into an “undeclared war” with Germany and Japan.

The third wrong turning was the imposition of the economic sanctions in July. That was undeclared war upon Japan by which starvation and ruin stared her in the face and if continued would soon be war, for the simple reason that no people of dignity would run up a white flag under such provocation.

Soon thereafter the US issued a blanket petroleum export embargo against Japan. Petroleum imports from Indonesia, then a Dutch colony, to Japan ceased. The ABCD encirclement was now complete.

Economic blockades are acts of war
Economic blockades were defined as acts of war at a hearing before the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in December 1928, where the ratification of the General Pact for the Renunciation of War as an Instrument of National Policy (also known as the Kellogg-Briand Pact and the Pact of Paris) was discussed.

On December 12 Secretary of State Frank B. Kellogg was asked whether an economic blockade constitutes an act of war. His reply: “An act of war, absolutely.”

The aforementioned treaty is often referred to as the Kellogg-Briand Pact after its authors, Kellogg and French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand. Since Kellogg explicitly stated before the US Senate that an economic blockade is an act of war, the conflict between Japan and the US had already commenced in August 1941.

According to international law, by committing an act of war, the US was clearly the aggressor. The Kellogg-Briand Pact was cited as the basis for the accusation that Japan was the aggressor. However, the US committed the first act of aggression. In a just world the defendant at the IMTFE (International Military Tribune for the Far East) would have been the US, not Japan.

MacArthur’s testimony before the US Senate in 1951
Gen. Douglas MacArthur gave testimony before the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and Armed Services on May 3, 1951. What he had to say was of great significance.

In the Pacific we bypassed them. We closed in. You must understand that Japan had an enormous population of nearly 80 million people, crowded into 4 islands. It was about half a farm population. The other half was engaged in industry.

Potentially the labor pool in Japan, both in quantity and quality, is as good as anything that I have ever known. Some place down the line they have discovered what you might call the dignity of labor, that men are happier when they are working and constructing than when they are idling.

This enormous capacity for work meant that they had to have something to work on. They built the factories, they had the labor, but they didn’t have the basic materials.

There is practically nothing indigenous to Japan except the silkworm. They lack cotton, they lack wool, they lack petroleum products, they lack tin, they lack rubber, they lack a great many other things, all of which was in the Asiatic basin.

They feared that if those supplies were cut off, there would be 10 to 12 million people unoccupied in Japan. Their purpose, therefore, in going to war was largely dictated by security.

But MacArthur’s monumentally important testimony received almost no coverage from the Japanese media. And even more incomprehensibly, Japan’s historians did not take it seriously.

Declarations of war not mandatory
Roosevelt milked the Japanese delay in issuing a declaration of war, and made the American people war-hungry by condemning Japan for its “sneak attack” on Pearl Harbor. However, no such condemnation ever emanated from England. The Japanese assault on British-ruled Malay peninsula took place at 1:30 a.m. (Japan time) on December 8, 1941. The strike on Pearl Harbor commenced approximately two hours later at 3:19 a.m. Why did the British government fail to protest an attack that was not preceded by a declaration of war, or condemn Japan for launching a sneak attack or violating international law? The answer is that declarations of war are merely formalities, and their absence is not deemed worthy of condemnation.

American writer Bob Woodward published a book entitled The Commanders, which dealt with foreign policy during the George H.W. Bush administration. In it he writes the following, quoting William P. Barr, then deputy attorney general:

[P]residents from the beginning had acted unilaterally to employ the forces. In all there had been more than 200 occasions when presidents had done so, and only five declarations of war.

This concerned a statement about a discussion that took place about whether or not to initiate an offensive against Iraq without first declaring war. As it turned out, the US issued no declaration. Nor did the US issue a declaration of war before embarking on the conflict in Vietnam.

Even at the grossly unjust IMTFE, Japan’s failure to issue a declaration of war was not one of the charges. That notwithstanding, the notion that Japan’s delay in issuing a declaration of war was Japan’s most serious war crime has been embraced by many, sad as that may seem.

Roosevelt approves plan for bombing of Japan in July 1941
We now know that Roosevelt issued orders for acts of war targeting Japan that were even more blatant.

On July 23, 1941 he gave his signature and stamp of approval to an operation plan (JB355) submitted by the War and Navy departments. JB355 was organized by White House economist Lauchlin Currie, who later fled to Colombia after being exposed as a Comintern spy. Currie began conferring with US Army and Navy officials in early 1941. He also consulted with leading figures in the Chiang Kai-shek administration. The memorandum Currie submitted on May 9 of that year formed the basis of the plan, according to which 150 B-17 long-distance bomber aircraft and 350 fighter planes taking off from China would bomb the Japanese cities of Tokyo, Osaka, Kobe, and Nagasaki. The US would be lending the aircraft to China, but the pilots would be mainly American soldiers called Flying Tigers who had volunteered for the operation.

JB355 was a plan that had Americans pretending to be Chinese soldiers bombing Japan. It was also a battle plan designed to be executed not in the far future, but on October 1, 1941. It was certainly a sneak attack, an offensive whose execution was intended to occur two months prior to the Pearl Harbor attack.

For better or worse, the operation was not executed in October. Since England was reeling under German attacks, the B-17 aircraft were diverted to the European front. But according to their plan, hatched in July, the Americans’ had every intention of implementing JB355 two months before the Pearl Harbor attack.

The American television network ABC carried a report on JB355 on December 6,1991, 50 years after the Pearl Harbor strike. Figure 2 is a reproduction of a letter describing the operation, which bears the signature of Acting Secretary of War Robert Patterson and Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox. It also bears Roosevelt’s initials, which signify his approval of the operation. The copy shown here was obtained from the US National Archives in 1970.

In 2018, at long last, the Japanese media covered JB355. TV Asahi Corp. aired a special program, Scoop Special, entitled “The Truth Comes Out 77 Years After the Pearl Harbor Attack: Roosevelt Had Foreknowledge!? The Epic Espionage War Among Japan, the US, and the USSR.” The material in the broadcast seemed quite accurate.

I did not view the program, but my friend Sekino Michio did see it, and his conclusion was that the reportage was factually correct, and that its perspective was significantly different from that of programs of this sort, which usually portray Japan as the villain.

Documents relating to JB355 were declassified in 1970, but the ABC broadcast took place in 1991. Not until 27 years later did a Japanese television network broach the topic. In the meantime, where have the Japanese scholars of conscience been? How could they fail to subject this important evidentiary material to analysis?

In the face of these findings, it is unbelievable that there are still people who insist, arrogantly, that Japan’s Pearl Harbor was a sneak attack, and that Japan set out to conquer the world.

Arrogantly, you ask? That is correct. This is what the media, denizens of the hallowed halls of academia, and historians — all those who have appointed themselves members of the intellectual elite, are telling us. They are preaching to us, the common people, about “historical fact.” Furthermore, most Americans agree with them, even scholars. That is what causes me to accuse them of arrogance. We can’t allow these self-appointed, conscienceless academics interpret history for us.

And finally, the coup de grâce, the conclusion reached by the 31st US President, Herbert Hoover:

[T]he whole Japanese war was a madman’s desire to get into war.

By madman, Hoover meant Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Figure 2: Letter describing Operation JB355, initialed by US President Roosevelt