Shadows Dancing: Japanese Espionage Against the West 1939-1945 (1993)
I wanted to look over this book to see what it had to say about the espionage since that was the subject of the book and not internment camps, although spying and potential spying was one of the justifications for the internment of the Japanese Americans in WWII.
The book is extremely complete and covers Japanese spy operations in many countries besides the United States. What I find particularly interesting is that it seems to conflict with information I've read in the other books that I have examined relating to internment since it seems to support those who argued that the Japanese Americans (Issei and Nisei, both) were actively involved in the espionage activities of Japan (although it says nothing about those who were already on FBI lists and rounded up right after Pearl Harbor.)
The book notes that, as of the end of January, 1941, the Japanese Foreign Office changed their activities from propaganda in nature to intelligence gathering. ”The objectives included the establishment of an intelligence organ which was to function primarily from the Washington Embassy.”
That agrees with other things I have read, that the Japanese espionage activities were centered around their embassies and consulates.
The book goes on:
”The other major aspect of their plan was the recruitment of US citizens of foreign extraction (other than Japanese), Communists, Negroes, labour union members and anti-Semites for intelligence-gathering purposes, especially those who had access to governmental establishments, laboratories, factories and transportation facilities. Also planned was the recruitment as espionage agents of 'second generation' Japanese persons then living in the United States.”
This refers to the Nisei generation, then.
A specific reference to the Japanese Consul in Los Angeles is made when the book states:
”He had engaged reliable Japanese second-generation citizens in the San Pedro and San Diego areas to keep a close watch on shipping and aircraft movements, and other agents had been employed to watch the US-Mexico border. He had also succeeded in employing the services as agents of several US servicemen of Japanese descent then in the US Army, and had spies working in several aircraft manufacturing factories.”
That is quite interesting, especially the part relating to using Japanese Americans already in the US military. If I remember correctly, though, almost all of the Japanese Americans in the US military were kicked out of it or otherwise neutralized in one way or another at the start of the war.
The book moves on to talk about plans for sabotage in the US.:
”Japanese plans to carry out sabotage in the United States involved Negro movements and-originally at least- an ultra-nationalist right-wing subversive movement known as the Silver Shirts.”
The Silver Shirts group was dropped when they proved too strange even for war usage. The book cites some specific black groups as being used, however:
”The Japanese allegedly worked in cooperation with several powerful Negro groups to establish espionage and sabotage operations, including the Negro Congress, the Negro Alliance and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.”
What I think is really significant here is the specific word “allegedly.” That word has today, of course, become a way of sidestepping lawsuits which is why, every time a crime is linked to a specific person, the reporter says so-and-so “allegedly” did such-and-such. It can mean anything from “there's enough evidence for a conviction” to “it's really just a rumor.” No other source I have consulted (and that includes over a hundred books now), refers to any actual spying operations being done by black organizations.
Also, the book often refers to various “plans” by the Japanese to use Japanese Americans or other groups to help in its espionage, yet there is a tremendous difference between planning something and actually carrying it out. Every other source I have consulted says that not one single Japanese American was found guilty of sabotage during the war. The woman referred to as “Tokyo Rose” was found guilty of treason, but that's an incredibly complicated story in and of itself.
The book refers to the Magic intercepts and notes that, due to what was in them, ”America became fully aware that Japan was pursuing aggressive and warlike intent, and that nothing the Americans could do – at least diplomatically – would prevent the eventual outbreak of the war.”
Another area of the book that I found that disagreed with other things I have read is in reference to activities at Pearl Harbor prior to the attack. The book states:
”Japanese Army intelligence was also heavily involved in the Pearl Harbor region. They operated a vast organization of fifth columnists, mainly shop-keepers and other small businessmen, all of whom were financed by the Japanese Tourist Bureau. Japanese Navy Intelligence was also prevalent in the region, operation in similar fashion but with the advantage of having truck drivers delivering fresh fruits, vegetables and other items to American ships in the harbor.”
The word that bothers me is “vast.” Were some Japanese Americans arrested after the attack on Pearl Harbor? Yes. Were the numbers “vast.”? No. Again, it's interesting that the internment program involved relatively few of the Japanese Americans in Hawaii which, at least according to the logic of this book, would have supported this “vast” network of fifth columnists and would, logically then, have been the first to be rounded up and interned in “vast” numbers, even before the Japanese Americans on the west coast.
This was not done, of course, and the reason cited was that the Japanese Americans in Hawaii were essential to the economic functioning of the island, composing around a third of the work force, and removing them would have crippled the island and seriously damaged the US military activities there. If so many of them were actually spies, though, shouldn't they have been removed anyway? If, indeed, there was such as “vast” network that had been established there.
The book is among those that claim that the US had full warning of the attack on Pearl Harbor due to the Magic intercepts.
What is really the most interesting is one half of one sentence late in the book. Remember, the book had talked about all these Japanese “plans” for using Japanese Americans and others as part of their “vast” network of spies and saboteurs. Yet the book starts its conclusion by saying:
”Throughout the war Japanese espionage activities directed against the West were only moderately successful...”
If they had so many plans and such a vast network they shouldn't it have been more successful? Not just “moderately” successful (and note, that refers to the activities against the West in general, which counts all the countries that were involved in these activities including Mexico, Central and Latin America, etc.)
Am I saying that the book is totally wrong in what it is claiming, that, among other things, Japanese Americans were actively involved in spying for Japan and in aiding the “mother country” by staging anti-US activities in our country? No.
What I am saying is that I find these claims to be quite suspicious in nature since what they are claiming seems to contradict almost every other source that I have consulted. I think it would have been much more believable if the book would have had a lot of references to specific Japanese American individuals who were spies and saboteurs and detailed exactly what they did, when, and whether or not they were caught.
Was their suspicion of Japanese American pro-Japanese activities? Yes. Absolutely. This is why the FBI arrested a number of them right after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. There were around 3,000 arrested, but not for spying; they were community leaders, bankers, ministers, language teachers, journalists, etc, who the FBI felt were potentially dangerous.
So, I find this an interesting book but one that seems to contradict other books and uses the terms “planned” and “allegedly” too much.
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