WASHINGTON – Former senior officers of the Imperial Japanese Army planned to establish a new military organization after Japan lost World War II, according to declassified U.S. documents.
They came up with the idea on their own around 1950 with the consent of the General Headquarters of the Allied Occupation, but U.S. government leaders and then Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida must have rejected it, experts said Sunday.
Former Lt. Gen. Torashiro Kawabe and others thought up the plan to form a new army, including setting up a poison gas unit and two other military units and having former Gen. Kazushige Ugaki as commander in chief, the documents show.
The documents were found at the National Archives in the United States where records of the Allied Occupation and the Central Intelligence Agency are kept.
According to experts on the postwar history, the plan of field-rank officers such as former Col. Takushiro Hattori to establish a new military organization was known before, but this is the first word of a similar scheme by officers of flag rank like Kawabe.
According to one of the documents, a secret memo describing Kawabe’s background and activities, he came up with the idea of establishing a modern-equipped “police force” made up of a poison gas unit, a machinegun unit and a tank unit.
Kawabe contrived the plan around February 1950, before the National Police Reserve was established. This was the predecessor of the Ground Self-Defense Force.
In 1951, an “underground government” decided to make Ugaki the commander in chief and Kawabe the chief of staff of the force Kawabe had proposed, according to the memo.
The phrase underground government is believed to refer to a group of former senior Imperial Japanese Army officers aiming to exert influence on Japanese and U.S. government authorities in various areas.
The memo says Yoshida accepted Kawabe’s idea, and Kawabe, Ugaki and others considered traveling to the United States to explain the scheme to government officials there.
But the plan was not adopted and Gen. Douglas MacArthur, supreme commander of the Occupation, ordered the National Police Reserve established in July 1950, shortly after the Korean War began.
Hideo Otake, a professor of political process theory at Kyoto University, said the memo that says Yoshida accepted Kawabe’s plan was probably “wishful thinking” on the part of the person who wrote it, as the prime minister had a strong distrust toward former Japanese soldiers.
“It is difficult to believe that former Prime Minister Yoshida supported Mr. Kawabe’s remilitarization scheme,” Otake said.
After Japan’s surrender on Aug. 15, 1945, Kawabe, who had been deputy chief of the Imperial Japanese Army’s General Staff during the war, headed the so-called “Kawabe Organization,” an anticommunist spy ring funded by the U.S.
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