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The legacy of Japanese spy Takeo Yoshikawa
December 7, 2010 10:23 AM   Subscribe

This is the Japanese spy who was stationed in Hawaii early in 1941. Here's how scouted the islands in preparation for the attack. These are his memories (Flash interface).
posted by nomadicink (23 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Could this not have been rolled into the existing thread on Pearl Harbor and Japanese/Axis attacks?
posted by MuffinMan at 10:26 AM on December 7, 2010


Different focus, different post.
posted by nomadicink at 10:34 AM on December 7, 2010


"Over the years, the mysterious spies of Pearl Harbor were always mentioned in passing in history books. While Yoshikawa contributed to the decision to intern Japanese Americans he himself distrusted the Japanese-American community who in his mind were loyal to America over Japan"

-wiki page on Yoshikawa.
posted by clavdivs at 10:36 AM on December 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


What the hell: He rented a second story apartment that overlooked Pearl Harbor and would often wander around the island of Oahu taking notes on Fleet movements, and security measures. He rented small planes at John Rodgers Airport and flew around observing U.S. installations as well as diving under the harbor using a hollow reed as a breathing device

Also, yeah gotta keep these post separated.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:38 AM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


The other post isn't about Pearl Harbor.

Anyway, I thought this quote had an amusing, vaguely ironic quality:
"[T]hose men of influence and character who might have assisted me in my secret mission were unanimously uncooperative..."

In other words, they weren't traitors. Sounds like you're right in their assessment of influence and character. Hope we treated them well, though history suggests we did not.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:39 AM on December 7, 2010


He was also on the cover of Parade magazine in 1969, but I couldn't find the article online anywhere.

It's just amazing how much information he managed to get just by visiting various points on the islands. Somewhere, I read that the Americans were very hands off about the Japanese population on Hawaii, for fear of angering them and driving them to Japan's side.

Oh, Yoshikawa also worked with the German spy Bernard Kuehn, who was also in Hawaii. Kuhen would flash messages from his attic to Yoshikawa.
posted by nomadicink at 10:48 AM on December 7, 2010


Would you believe me if I told you my great aunt received and decoded his message before the attack and the government decided to let it happen?

My great aunt was a NSA code breaker, before the war she was working as a school teacher decided that her love for children was not enough to sustain her. She began working in DC for the NSA slowly growing in rank as they discovered her talent. She was brilliant, not average smart, but genuinely genius.

The right people noticed and eventually she was a NSA code breaker. There are tons of stories from this time (from my family, she took her silence oath seriously). She would come out to California to visit my grandmother and see the family. If a national crisis anywhere hit the phone would ring, a black limo would pull up and she would be gone.

She never said to anyone that we knew Pearl Harbor was planned, but she hinted at. She had an amazing recollection for everything she ever read. And when she wanted to talk about a current event that she knew too much about she would say “you know what? The way that Bob Smith put it in his editorial comment in –insert backwoods paper- was an interesting take on it. What that really meant was “I worked with the team that decoded the message for that attack and this is how it really went down”.

The family had orders when she died to fly on the first flight to DC and take her NSA badge out of her safe, only we had the code. We were to wait until a NSA agent showed up to collect it. Not leave the apartment, and only hand it over once we had seen the other agents badge and compared the two.

When she died we had to throw away tons of her pictures and awards. We kept all we could but she had three closets in DC filled with commendations for her work, the awards never go into detail. She had a photo with every single president from WWII to the day she died. After she retired she would get calls all the time to come back and declassify documents because the people currently working there did not have as high as clearance as her. In fact she once said that there was nothing in the pentagon that she did not have access to.
posted by Felex at 10:53 AM on December 7, 2010 [40 favorites]


perl -pe 's/Perl/Pearl/'
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:08 AM on December 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


Would you believe me if I told you my great aunt received and decoded his message before the attack and the government decided to let it happen?

Go on....
posted by nomadicink at 11:24 AM on December 7, 2010


Felex-Would you believe me if I told you my great aunt received and decoded his message before the attack and the government decided to let it happen?

My great aunt was a NSA code breaker, before the war she was working as a school teacher decided that her love for children was not enough to sustain her. She began working in DC for the NSA slowly growing in rank as they discovered her talent. She was brilliant, not average smart, but genuinely genius.

The right people noticed and eventually she was a NSA code breaker.


Um, not so much.

Wiki
The creation of NSA was authorized in a letter written by President Harry S. Truman in June 1952. The agency was formally established through a revision of National Security Council Intelligence Directive (NSCID) 9 on October 24, 1952,[11] and officially came into existence on November 4, 1952
posted by timsteil at 11:32 AM on December 7, 2010 [8 favorites]


He was a excellent spy and deserves honor in engaging in a dishonorable practice.

These facts are not 'new' His memories are what matters. What makes this relevant on such a day? The man has passed. As a boy, my father was near Pearl Harbor that day. The hatred towards Japanese was fierce and ugly. What was was going to be a baseball game turned into terror but that is war. He forgave, it was his right. Friends died. War makes it personal. Forgiveness is the only matter and this remains self-evident.
posted by clavdivs at 11:33 AM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


nice catch timsteil
posted by clavdivs at 11:34 AM on December 7, 2010


Would you believe me if I told you my great aunt received and decoded his message before the attack and the government decided to let it happen?

My great aunt was a NSA code breaker...


Who was she working for prior to World War II when she decoded the message?

Never mind... on preview, what timsteil said.
posted by ElDiabloConQueso at 11:35 AM on December 7, 2010


OK, pop quiz for the Pearl Harbor buffs:

Who is this man, what are the spots on his cheeks, and what new evidence was discovered in this image?
posted by circular at 11:37 AM on December 7, 2010


Sorry, I have to ask who she worked for before the NSA, she only worked for the NSA during my lifetime. I know she worked on the Enigma machine, so what ever branch that was.
posted by Felex at 11:42 AM on December 7, 2010


I picked up a documentary on Pearl Harbor a while back, and as an added bonus, they had the original cut of the film December 7th, a US Navy propaganda film made as an interview between (literally) Uncle Sam and a reporter. It indicts the whole Japanese population of the islands, noting particularly how they have their own banks, and schools, and businesses with the names in Japanese etc.

It is public domain, and available as a free download here, though I am not sure if that is the original cut or not.
posted by timsteil at 11:43 AM on December 7, 2010


One of these Japanese spies was interviewed for The World At War. Anyone who's got an interest in WW2 and hasn't seen it, kick yourself now then obtain a copy.
posted by imperium at 11:59 AM on December 7, 2010


"The World At War" is available on YouTube
posted by briank at 1:10 PM on December 7, 2010


circular: "what new evidence was discovered in this image"

I think that a close perusal of that image indicates one of the mini-subs did, in fact, enter the harbor and fire a torpedo at Battleship Row. You can't really see it in the linked image, but it appears in a greatly magnified view that the three vertical 'sprays' of water might be propeller cavitation from the minisub as it fired its torp.
posted by pjern at 1:29 PM on December 7, 2010


Who is this man?

Kazuo Sakamaki. Are the spots on his cheeks cigarette burns?
After being taken to Sand Island, Sakamaki burned himself with cigarettes and requested that he be allowed to commit suicide, which was denied. Sakamaki spent the rest of the war in prisoner of war camps on the mainland United States. At the war's end, he was repatriated to Japan, by which time he had become deeply committed to pacifism.[2]
posted by drezdn at 4:30 PM on December 7, 2010


Nice job pjern and drezdn!

pjern, there's some controversy about that. There is an interesting multi-page writeup that disputes it a bit. I have Burlingame's book and whether he's right or not, it is a fantastic read about Pearl Harbor in general.
posted by circular at 4:48 PM on December 7, 2010


My great aunt was a NSA code breaker...

Elizebeth Friedman by any chance? (Regardless, the article on Friedman is worth a read--a fascinating life.)

Most likely this would have been U.S. Army Signals Intelligence Service (SIS) for the period 1930-1949, then the Armed Forces Security Agency from 1949-52, when the NSA was created (though there may be other possibilities).
posted by flug at 10:20 PM on December 7, 2010


Kuehn was also repatriated after the war, but distinguished himself from his co-conpirators by acheiving a second fifteen minutes of infamy in a dissent by Justice Thomas in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld.

Oh, and Wikipedia has it that Kuehn's daughter Susie Ruth, was onetime mistress of Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels.
posted by L'oeuvre Child at 10:30 PM on December 7, 2010


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