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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

March 5, 2007

Written by C.N.

CIA Recruited Japanese War Criminals

You might have heard the accusations that throughout history, the U.S. government — mainly the CIA — has repeatedly recruited, supported, and/or promoted right-wing extremist political groups and governments that served some useful purpose for them, and ignored the atrocities that such groups and governments perpetrated on innocent victims. As the Associated Press reports, newly declassified documents illustrate how we can now add Japanese war criminals from World War II to that list:

The records, declassified in 2005 and 2006 under an act of Congress in tandem with Nazi war crime-related files, fill in many of the blanks in the previously spotty documentation of the occupation authority’s intelligence arm and its involvement with Japanese ultra-nationalists and war criminals, historians say. The CIA also cast a harsh eye on its counterparts . . . Japanese operatives often bilked gullible American patrons, passing on useless intelligence and using their U.S. ties to boost smuggling operations and further their efforts to resurrect a militarist Japan. . . .

The files, hundreds of pages of which were obtained last month by the AP, depict operations that were deeply flawed by agents’ lack of expertise, rivalries and shifting alliances between competing groups, and Japanese operatives’ overriding interest in right-wing activities and money rather than U.S. security aims. . . . Historians long ago concluded that the Allies turned a blind eye to many Japanese war crimes, particularly those committed against other Asians, as fighting communism became the West’s priority.

I raised an eyebrow when I first read about this development, but ultimately, I can’t say that I’m completely shocked by these revelations. After all, it is just another example of how the CIA has supported right-wing dictatorships and fringe groups who they felt could be useful “allies” in their war against communism. South America, Central America, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia — you name it, the U.S. has been there and left their bloody handprints.

As history also shows, in almost all cases, such political arrangements produced not just incalculable oppression and misery for innocent civilians, but also significantly damaged the U.S.’s reputation around the world, the consequences of which we’re increasingly having to deal with right now. I also find it interesting that U.S.’s use of right-wing nationalists in Japan happens to coincide with the persistence — and recent renewal — of militaristic nationalism among Japan’s government through the years. Very interesting . . .

Author Citation

Copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le. Some rights reserved. Creative Commons License

Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "CIA Recruited Japanese War Criminals" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <> ().

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