Tag Archives: Yamashita

Anniversary of the Surrender of the Philippines – May 6, 1942

Last night, the History Channel showed the second episode of “Lost Gold of World War II” and today is the anniversary of the fall of the Philippine Island, the United States territory, to the Japanese. It set up the brutal Bataan Death March but more importantly it set in motion the Japanese plan to bury gold and other treasures in that territory.

General Douglas MacArthur had been recalled to active duty earlier in the year to command the United States Armed Forces in the Asia-Pacific region. He believed he was under explicit orders not to initiate hostilities against the Japanese. Thus, giving the Japanese the upper hand in taking the territory. On February 22, 1942, President Roosevelt ordered MacArthur to move his headquarters to Australia.

As the first troops defending the Philippines began to surrender on the Bataan Peninsula in April, others resisted until May 6. The Japanese army decided to teach the U. S. soldiers and the loyal Filipinos a lesson for their resistance. This decision was made because of the influence of Colonel Tsuji. Most of the 80,000 prisoners of war, including 15,000 Americans, captured by the Japanese at Bataan were forced to undertake the infamous “Death March” to a prison camp 105 kilometers (65 miles) to the north. The Japanese had only made provisions for capturing 25,000 soldiers, they were unprepared for the significantly larger numbers.

The Bataan Death March evolved into a conflict between the Japanese soldiers and officers. Those officers who had served under General Honma were civil to the prisoners of war. Not so for the soldiers who served with Tsuji’s men. They were ruthless, from stealing wedding bands and watches to bayoneting or shooting prisoners. Tsuji even went so far as to threaten his own officers, warning them that he had orders from Tôkyô to treat these prisoners of war this way, and if they did not comply, their careers may be at risk. American and Filipino prisoners of war were bound, beaten, or killed by their Japanese captors. When they fell from exhaustion, some were bayoneted on the spot. Some were forced to dig their own graves and were buried alive. It is estimated as many as 10,000 men, weakened by disease and malnutrition and treated harshly by their captors, died before reaching their destination. Only 54,000 prisoners reached camp alive. Thousands later died from malnutrition and disease.

During the early phases of the Pacific War, most of the Gold, currency and treasures extracted from Southeast Asia by the imperial Golden Lily Group was sent to Japan to the Nagona Bullion bunker to finance the war effort. By mid-1942, when U. S. Navy ships and submarines made the shipping lanes too risky to move Gold and treasures to Japan, another shipping point had to be determined. Chichibu met with Hirohito, and they decided it would be best to ship the Gold to the Philippines. On July 7, 1942, Tojo met with camp commandants from the Philippines and Southeast Asia. He told them short of becoming inhuman; they were not to permit idleness among the prison work detail in the Philippines. This specifically included those digging caves that were ultimately used by the Golden Lily Group to bury Gold. To circumvent Allied air and naval attacks, Prince Chichibu had a fleet of four ships painted as Red Cross ships, which could move without incident throughout the Japanese territories with Gold and treasures.

Hirohito believed even in defeat, he could negotiate a reasonable peace with Roosevelt. His worse case scenario was the United States would let them remove their captured Gold and treasures. The resulting peace would allow Japan to keep Manchuria, Foremosa and the Philippines.

In March 1944, MacArthur’s forces landed in the Philippines to begin their liberation, the Japanese still had a tremendous amount of Gold and treasures to be buried or moved. On March 7, Manila was liberated. Therefore, the Golden Lily team had to take the Gold and treasures with them into the mountains of northern Philippines and other areas during their retreat, where it was buried at many different locations. This required a huge labor operation.

"The President's Gold" and "Gold of the Spirits"

The President’s Gold and Gold of the Spirits, books by Don Kesterson

Prince Chichibu realized they were going to lose.  Unlike Hirohito, he did not believe they could defend the Philippines. Moreover, he did not share the opinion that they could negotiate to keep the Philippines in defeat. Thus, keep the stored Gold. Chichibu ordered the construction of deep underground storage areas, so deep the Gold, currency and other treasures could not be accidentally detected.

Hirohito decided to recall Yamashita Tomoyuki from Manchuria, where he had been sidelined since conquering Singapore. After a week of briefings, he was promoted to full general and sent to the Philippines to oversee the 250,000 men defending that territory. When Yamashita left, he told his chief of staff that it was his turn to die. On October 6, 1944 Yamashita arrived in the Philippines and established his headquarters in Manila. His original army, so successful just thirty months earlier in Malaysia and Singapore, no longer existed as a cohesive unit. Yamashita knew the “beginning of the end” would occur in the Philippines, and it was up to him and his commanders to stop or at least slow down the U.S. troops.

United States Marines continued to advance in the south on Luzon. There were small pockets of resistance, while the Japanese under Yamashita continued to elude the U.S. forces. In April, he moved 50 miles farther inland to the area of Bangbang. As Yamashita continued to retreat over the balance of the Luzon Campaign, he continued to use Guerrilla tactics such as “hit and run” into the Cordillera Mountains. In a rather ironic twist of fate, Gold had been moving to the Philippines for some time before Yamashita’s arrival, yet the Gold found there would ultimately be called Yamashita’s Gold. Yamashita had nothing to do with the Golden Lily Group, although he was aware of their presence. At the last burial site before surrendering his army, he gathered enough gold and silver to pay his own men.

When Hitler surrendered Germany, Hirohito finally realized for the first time his surrender would be unconditional. His only real remaining hope lay it drawing out the war long enough to have the fragile alliance between the United States and the Soviet Union crumble, which might cause either to ask for Japanese help. With the dropping of the two atomic bombs that request never came.

Lost Gold of World War II- Season Two Premier

Tonight at ten o’clock Eastern Daylight Time, the new season of Lost Gold of World War II begins. Those of you, who followed the show know that at the end of last season, they appeared to find an old tunnel system. Likewise, in several previous episodes to the season finale, they brought out some of the involvement of the United States government and the deviousness of Ferdinand Marcos.

"The President's Gold" and "Gold of the Spirits"

The President’s Gold and Gold of the Spirits, books by Don Kesterson

One of the biggest issues I have with the buried treasure starts with the reference name, Yamashita’s gold. When I was interviewed to be a part of this documentary series, I attempted to correct the producers, telling them that I was able to document that Yamashita was present only at the last burial site. Why, because he had no more money and he went into the burial site to take enough gold and silver to pay his men. Then he sat down with the engineers and drank saké with workers. When they were sufficiently drunk, Yamashita and a couple of the engineers from the Golden Lily team escaped. The bunker was blown up such that those individuals remaining behind were buried alive. I told this story to the producers saying the buried treasure should be properly named either the Golden Lily’s Treasure or Chichibu’s Treasure. Chichibu was Emperor Hirohito’s brother, who was put in charge of the Golden Lily team.

So where did the name Yamashita’s Gold come from? After his surrender in September 1945, he was interrogated by members of General MacArthur’s staff. Then later Ferdinand Marcos used the term to explain his personal wealth. The documented facts are the Japanese were systemically burying gold in the Philippines for several years before Yamashita was stationed there. He was transferred from Manchukuo, the Japanese captured territory or Manchuria in late 1944, therefore, he was there for less than a year. Most of Yamashita’s time, particularly after MacArthur’s arrival to liberate the Philippines, was dedicated to guerilla warfare tactics in the jungle away from the gold and treasure.

I will attempt again this season to critic each series episode again focusing on the involvement with the government and Marcos side. I have spent years researching these two related elements of the buried gold. My assumptions are the season will start out focusing on the newly discovered cave, which as it should be. This site appears to have the potential of being an actual burial site. But remember there were mining operations and natural caves throughout this island before the Japanese arrived in 1942. So who knows, that is why they are doing this show.

Anyway, I suspect my interview for this series ended up on the cutting room floor, as they decided to go in a different direction when it came to the background and intrigue side of the buried gold. I am okay with that. Oh well. Ironically, in January 2020, I was flown to Los Angeles to appear in a new documentary about Yamashita’s gold and the Golden Buddha but due to the Corona Virus outbreak that documentary got suspended or cancelled altogether.

During each of my interviews, I warn the producers about the booby traps and the dangers of these burial sites. Next, I advised they would need a lot of security should they find buried treasure. Lastly, my most important warning was about the involvement of the governments. There are secrets that they cannot allow to be documented. They will do anything to destroy the credibility of anyone who dares tell the truth. I just continue my writing on the subject unveiling the truth about the buried gold in the Philippines along with other untold truths. The real truths in history, history unlike anything you have been taught in school. The real history of the world.

History Channel Series – Lost Gold of World War II

On Tuesday, March 19, at 10 p.m. EDT, The History Channel is starting a new series on the gold the Japanese stole during World War II and buried in the Philippines. The series, Lost Gold of World War II, is about a Filipino family who believes gold is buried on their property and wants answers.

In October 2018, a Filipino here in the U.S. working with the team in the Philippines contacted me to unlock some of the unknowns or correct some of the inaccuracies of the story behind the gold. The first thing I asked was how they found me—and why me? They had seen the documentary a London production team put together for Myth Hunter’s regarding “Yamashita’s gold,” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZU_xHCA4j4, which focused on the plight of Rogelio Roxas and the Golden Buddha. I learned several of the other experts regarding this “Lost Gold” have since passed away. Which leaves me as one of the few experts of the overall story still alive and willing to participate in their series.

On December 3 of last year, the young Filipino and the History Channel film team showed up at my residence to get to the bottom of these stories. We spent most of the day in a question and answer session regarding from what countries the gold was stolen, who was in charge of burying and documenting the gold, and why it was brought to the Philippines. The next round of questions revolved around whether any of the gold had been recovered.

When the filming was completed, the production team informed me the series would likely start in March of this year. A couple of weeks ago, a friend called and asked if I knew anything about a series called Lost Gold of World War II. Naturally, I replied yes, I’m in it. The next morning, I sent an email to the producer, who confirmed the series was starting on March 19, and I would show up in episode 7 or 8. Here is a preview of the series: https://www.history.com/shows/lost-gold-of-world-war-ii.

I was surprised to learn no one in the production team or the Filipino knew anything about my novels, The President’s Gold (https://donkesterson.com/the-presidents-gold/) or Gold of the Spirits (https://donkesterson.com/gold-of-the-spirits/). They said they would read them to fill in more detail than I was able to give them in their one-day visit. I cautioned them the Filipino family to be very careful, as pursuit of this buried gold was very dangerous. They left wishing they had more time for questions and answers, as some of my answers led them toward questions they had not even pondered for their Gold series.

Be sure to watch this series and let me know what you think.

The President's Gold

Japan Surrenders to End World War II

On Sunday, September 2, 1945, the Japanese Government formally surrendered on the deck of the U.S.S. Missouri. The United States was represented by General Douglas MacArthur, while the Japanese government was represented by Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu, and their military was represented by General Yoshijiro Umezu.

Over the final months of World War II, President Truman decided to follow Roosevelt’s plan for reclaiming the defeated Axis Powers, which included sending General Douglas MacArthur to Japan to oversee all developments. This was a difficult decision for Truman, because he had a deep personal dislike for MacArthur. However, Truman believed MacArthur’s selection to be the Supreme Commander of Allied Powers (SCAP) of Japan would be widely accepted in the US, due to his popularity. Therefore, with MacArthur in place, he took a hands-off approach regarding decisions in Japan. The real story was that Truman had as much as he could handle with Europe and the Soviet Union. This action was paramount, as one of Truman’s most important accomplishments was keeping the Soviet Communists out of Japan, which was an everlasting benefit to Japan and the world.Silhouette fedora

At the Potsdam Conference, a declaration was signed by President Truman, British Prime Minister Churchill and Chinese President Chiang, below are some of the key points that Japan had to accept:

  • “The time has come for Japan to decide whether she will continue to be controlled by those self-willed militaristic advisers whose unintelligent calculations have brought the Empire of Japan to the threshold of annihilation, or whether she will follow the path of reason.
  • “There must be eliminated for all time the authority and influence of those who have deceived and misled the people of Japan into embarking on world conquest, for we insist that a new order of peace, security and justice will be impossible until irresponsible militarism is driven from the world.
  • “Until such a new order is established and until there is convincing proof that Japan’s war-making power is destroyed, points in Japanese territory to be designated by the Allies shall be occupied to secure the achievement of the basic objectives we are here setting forth.
  • “The Japanese military forces, after being completely disarmed, shall be permitted to return to their homes with the opportunity to lead peaceful and productive lives.
  • “We do not intend that the Japanese shall be enslaved as a race or destroyed as a nation, but stern justice shall be meted out to all war criminals, including those who have visited cruelties upon our prisoners. The Japanese Government shall remove all obstacles to the revival and strengthening of democratic tendencies among the Japanese people. Freedom of speech, of religion, and of thought, as well as respect for the fundamental human rights shall be established.
  • “Japan shall be permitted to maintain such industries as will sustain her economy and permit the exaction of just reparations in kind, but not those which would enable her to re-arm for war. To this end, access to, as distinguished from control of, raw materials shall be permitted. Eventual Japanese, participation in world trade relations shall be permitted.
  • “The occupying forces of the Allies shall be withdrawn from Japan as soon as these objectives have been accomplished and there has been established in accordance with the freely expressed will of the Japanese people a peacefully inclined and responsible government.
  • “We call upon the government of Japan to proclaim now the unconditional surrender of all.”

This quotation come from the Potsdam Conference Declaration and is referenced from the website  http://www.ibiblio.org/pha/war.term/093_03.html

These terms were acknowledged as accepted by the Emperor on behalf of the Japanese Government on August 14, 1945.

On August 30, MacArthur had arrived in Tokyo to begin to set up his occupation staff. MacArthur believed he was an not expert on Japan, so one of the first appointments MacArthur made was Frank Schuler, due to his long-standing knowledge of Japan. Schuler had worked in the U.S. Embassy before World War II, and then during the war, he served as a spy in the country. He probably had as much working knowledge of the Japanese as anyone on MacArthur’s staff. However, MacArthur relied heavily upon the advice of his Chief of Intelligence, Major General Charles A. Willoughby, who helped design the occupation plan, with the centerpiece of keeping the emperor in place.

Also on MacArthur’s team were Lieutenant General Robert Eichelberger and Brigadier General Courtney Whitney. Whitney was a lawyer and prepared most of the documentation for MacArthur to execute. Eichelberger was to be in charge of the Eighth Army and supervise the non-political occupation of Japan. MacArthur did not allow the Army’s Office of Strategic Services (OSS) to be involved in his operation; Willoughby was a one-man intelligence team. Although he was knowledgeable of the military conflict, he was not very well connected, thus he could not provide valuable intelligence. An example of this poor intelligence, MacArthur believed that Hirohito was so removed from society that he never used a telephone or delivered a public speech. It is my opinion that MacArthur never wanted the involvement of the Army’s OSS, and this was due to infiltration of communists within the highest levels of the OSS organization, and MacArthur—a control freak—could not control these individuals.MacArthur and Hirohito

The historic meeting between Hirohito and MacArthur came on the morning of September 27. Hirohito was dressed in striped trousers and a morning coat when he reluctantly entered reception room at the refurbished American Embassy. He handed his top hat to an aide and entered General Douglas MacArthur’s office. It was agreed that he should act submissive and humble. Accepting responsibility for the war, he offered to abdicate or do whatever else was necessary, which he did. Yet MacArthur informed him that the United States wanted him to stay in power. If ever a picture was worth a thousand words, it was the image of General MacArthur and Emperor Hirohito standing side by side during their historic first meeting. In it, a casually dressed MacArthur towers over the stiff, formally attired emperor. For millions of Japanese, it brought home in an entirely new way the notion that they had lost the war. Just that day, Hirohito had spent almost three hours discussing his own presentation to MacArthur. MacArthur quickly became very popular with the Japanese people, because the emperor answered to him. Clearly, that picture contributed to the situation.

At the point of surrender, it was up to the Emperor Hirohito and his advisers to keep as much of their Empire as possible, including its political and economic structure. Hirohito believed that, up until the surrender of Germany, they could negotiate to keep the Philippines. On the day, Japan officially surrendered to the United States, the Diet, the Japanese governing body, unofficially ordered that $10 billion US dollars in goods, including banknotes, must be given to key diplomats and elites (essentially their Zabatsu families), to hide from the United States’ occupying force. Paramount to all of their efforts was protection of the emperor’s family and keeping the war-crime prosecution to a minimum. Concurrently, Secretary of War Stimson, Japanese Ambassador Grew, General MacArthur, and General Marshall had to design a plan to keep the emperor, in order to enable the rapid evolution of the Japanese people and their economy. However, they agreed it must be done in such a way as to give Hirohito concern for his future. It is important to note that the United States position was counter to that of their Allies (the British and Australians), who believe that all Japanese who were responsible for the war, including Hirohito, should be punished. One of MacArthur’s main objectives was a peaceful occupation, as they had real concerns about the safety of the US occupying force.WP_20150308_001

On September 3, 1945, a historical event not readily discussed occurred when Yamashita surrendered in the mountains north of Baguio, Luzon, Philippines, under orders from the Japanese government. General Major A.S. “Jack” Kenworthy of the military police made the official arrest of Yamashita, furnished the security and an escort for him as he went down from Baguio to New Bilibid Prison. While this seems like a mere afterthought on the surface, there is much hidden in the surrender of the last full Japanese army unit. In the time period between the dropping of the two atomic bombs and the official surrender, the Japanese Golden Lily team had substantial amounts of gold still to be buried in the Philippines. It was up to Yamashita to continue his guerilla activity as long as possible, so that the gold could be buried. It’s important to note that the final burial was achieved just before the Japanese government advised Yamashita he could surrender.

This year, on the seventieth anniversary of such a monumental event, the news cycle was complete quiet. Why is that? Do you believe, as I do, that these largely unknown historic truths about the Japanese surrender should be discussed openly, even taught in our universities as part of our world’s history? Ask a friend if they’re aware of these facts. If not, I encourage you to share this essay with them. Don’t let our history be lost, like the stolen war gold still hidden somewhere in the mountains of the Philippines.

Getting “The Call” – My National Television Debut this Weekend on Myth Hunters: Yamashita’s Gold

In May of 2014, I received an e-mail from a TV director in London enquiring of my knowledge on Japanese General Yamashita and his role in the burial of Gold in the Philippines. The director and the producer had found me through my website, and had read my blogs and my e-book, The President’s Gold. Naturally, I jumped at the opportunity to help. Soon afterward, the director Skyped me, interviewing me right then for a television documentary role on MythHunters. It was, shall we call it, anxious fun. After our chat, she sent a list of questions for me, stating that if I didn’t already know the answers, to find them! Fortunately, my years of research on the riveting subject prepared me well, as I found the questions easy to answer. Wanting to make certain I didn’t err with this great opportunity, I looked up the answers for confirmation. During our follow-up Skype call, poor internet connection caused problems, so we ended up on the phone. We Skyped just long enough for the producer and the director to see how I might present information for the documentary.Silhouette fedora

When I didn’t hear from either of them for a while, I got nervous. I thought I had not made the cut. Finally, the phone call came, and I ecstatic to learn I was going to be included in their documentary. I flew to New York for an interview, and I spent the night before studying, reviewing, and then studying some more to make certain I felt ready. Despite having a general idea of the questions they might ask, I wanted to come off as natural as possible, without having to refer to my notes.

The first to arrive on location was the camera crew. They quickly set up, then the interview began. Surprisingly, it lasted about an hour and a half. Once completed, they informed me that the story would likely air in the fall of 2014. After the director and producer had moved on, I felt unsure of how the interview had gone. Did I answer their many questions succinctly? Had I stumbled or stuttered? Did I squint beneath the glare of the lights? Did my internal jitters cause me to tremble on the screen? The cameraman told me not to worry, that the producer and director had gotten a lot of good material from me. This put me at ease . . . sort of . . . for a little while.

Fall of 2014 arrived, and I still had not heard a word from the MythHunters crew. Had the documentary been canceled? Had my Q & A ended up on the cutting room floor? On New Year’s Eve (what a perfect way to ring out the old and welcome the new!), I received a phone call from a friend of mine who asked if the preview he’d found online had appeared on TV. I literally jumped out of my chair and ran to my computer, searching until I found the trailer of “Yamashita’s Gold” by MythHunters on the American Heroes Channel. There was my face and my voice, and there was no trembling, no stuttering, and thankfully, no squinting.

Happy New Year to me!

I was—and still am—thrilled beyond words. I am going to be in the MythHunters documentary “Yamashita’s Gold”, talking about a subject I’m passionate about, the history and location of the stolen war loot.

Just this Monday morning, an executive at World Media Rights sent the full documentary to me, along with the exciting news that the American Heroes Channel will air the episode at 1 PM on Sunday, January 11, 2015.

Did you get that? That’s this Sunday, January 11th, at 1:00 pm on the American Heroes Channel! For goodness sake, write it down!

 

Now pop some popcorn, gather the family and the dog, then tune in, and let me know what you think!