Society for the Dissemination of Historical Fact

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Open letter to Japan National Archives (2)

By SUGIHARA Seishiro,

Sugihara Seishiro
2-18-15-504 Niiza, Shin-Niiza City,
Saitama Prefecture


January 17, 2020

Mr. Kato Takeo
Japan National Archives

Dear Mr. Kato:

I truly appreciate your response dated January 15 to my open letter, regarding your Special Internet Exhibit “Archives Reveal Diplomatic Negotiation Between Japan and the United States—the process leading to the outbreak of the War,” which I sent to you by contents-certified mail.

However, I will say that the question I posed in my open letter of December 8 regarding the Special Web Exhibit was not clearly answered and my requests is yet to be realized.

According to your reply, “academic and general books” listed as “reference” were those exclusively used by staff responsible for the Web exhibit, references that he selected. However, regarding my book in question, which relates to Japan-U.S. diplomatic negotiation, the findings that I wrote in the book are very well known in the academic world and attracted much public attention at the time when this Web Exhibit opened in 2005.

In 2001, Mr. Iokibe Makoto, who later became President of the National Defense Academy of Japan, led a study concerning Japan’s intelligence capability before the War and revealed at a press conference a fact that he knew, for the first time, that Japan was successful in decoding U.S. diplomatic telegrams to certain extent, vying with the United States in intelligence warfare.

However, this historical fact was already stated in my book Study on Japan’s Diplomacy after the Opening of the War between Japan and the United States, published in 1997 (by Aki Shobo). In my book, I mentioned not only the fact that Japan decoded U.S. diplomatic telegrams to a significant extent but also the fact that the United States Government knew that Japan succeeded in decoding U.S. diplomatic telegrams. My book also estimated how much the American Government’s knowledge of Japan’s intelligence capability was used during diplomatic negotiation between Japan and the United States.

When Mr. Iokibe announced the historical fact that Japan had decoded American diplomatic telegrams to a certain extent at a press conference, I was interviewed by the media about this “newly discovered” fact and I told them that this was not in fact “newly discovered”. My comments were widely reported in both national and local newspapers, with my book mentioned in those articles as well.

Therefore, my book came to be widely known to the public, throughout Japan, as a scholarly book that revealed a very important historical fact related to U.S.-Japan diplomatic negotiations.

It is totally unimaginable that the person responsible for this Web exhibit did not know about my book. Even if he did not know about my book, it should have been his duty to carefully search the scholarly texts held by the National Diet Library—he would have found my book had he done so—as one who was responsible for selecting references. Really, this is a minimum level of job responsibility. Therefore, I cannot help but suspect that there may have been something unseen, to purposely exclude my book in the “reference.”

Even if the truth was that my book was not listed in the “references” by mistake, it is hardly acceptable that an academic book indispensable for understanding Japan-U.S. diplomatic negotiations would be missing from the “references.”

As I stated in my letter of December 8 last year, I once again request that you let me know the name of the person who was responsible for making the “references” related to the Japan-U.S. diplomatic negotiations and apologize for having omitted my book from the “references” and add my book to the “references.”

In general, there seem to be a gross bias in the study of history in Japanese academic circles. In order to correct this academic injustice, I intend to publish this letter of mine, together with your reply dated January 15.

Finally, regarding this matter, I contributed “I ask Mr. Iokibe Makoto as a scholar,” to the June 2009 issue of the monthly magazine Seiron.

Sincerely yours,

Sugihara Seishiro

To the attention of:
Kato Takeo
Japan National Archives

3-2 Kitanomaru Koen,
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo

Sent by Sugihara Seishiro