Today, December 7, 2010, is the 69th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. (69th?! Wow!) In our very latest—and many are already saying the greatest, thank you very much—work, Uncle John’s HEAVY DUTY Bathroom Reader, we tell the story of the single Japanese spy who made the entire attack possible. Here’s an excerpt:
DUSTBIN OF HISTORY:
THE PEARL HARBOR SPY
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, remains
one of the most infamous events in U.S. history. Yet the spy who
played a key role in the sneak attack is a forgotten man,
unknown even to many World War II buffs.
On March 27, 1941, a 27-year-old junior diplomat named Tadashi Morimura arrived in Honolulu to take his post as vice-consul at the Japanese consulate. But that was just a cover—“Morimura” was really Takeo Yoshikawa, a Japanese Imperial Navy Intelligence officer. His real mission: to collect information about the American military installations in and around Pearl Harbor.
Relations between the United States and Japan had been strained throughout the 1930s and were now deteriorating rapidly. In 1940, after years of Japanese aggression in China and Southeast Asia, Washington froze Japanese assets in the U.S., cut off exports of oil and war materiel, and moved the headquarters of the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet from southern California to Pearl Harbor, bringing it 2,400 miles closer to Japan.
The fleet was in Pearl Harbor to stay. But if Japan wanted its funds unfrozen and the crippling economic embargo lifted, the United States insisted that all Japanese troops had to leave China and Southeast Asia. This was a demand that Japan was unwilling to meet. Instead, it began preparing for war, and by early 1941, the eyes of Japan’s military planners had turned to Pearl Harbor.
The American Desk
Yoshikawa had become a spy in a roundabout way. He’d been a promising naval academy graduate, but his career hopes were dashed in 1936 when, just two years after graduation, stomach problems (reportedly brought on by heavy drinking) forced him out of the Japanese Navy. The following year he landed a desk job with Naval Intelligence, where he was put to work learning all that he could about the U.S. Navy.
From 1937 until 1940, Yoshikawa pored over books, magazines, newspapers, brochures, reports filed by Japanese diplomats and military intelligence officers from all over the world, and anything else he could find that would give him information about the U.S. Navy. “By 1940 I was the Naval General Staff’s acknowledged American expert,” he recounted in a 1960 article in the journal Naval Institute Proceedings. “I knew by then every U.S. man-of-war and aircraft by name, hull number, configuration, and technical characteristics. I knew, too, a great deal of general information about the U.S. naval bases at Manila, Guam, and Pearl Harbor.”
In August 1940, Yoshikawa was ordered to begin preparing for a spy mission in Pearl Harbor. And he was probably surprised by what his superiors told him next: He wasn’t going to receive any training in the art of espionage—none at all. He wasn’t going to receive any support from Japan’s Hawaiian spy network, either, because there wasn’t one. He would be the only Japanese spy in Hawaii, posing as one Tadashi Morimura, a low-level diplomat assigned to the consulate in Honolulu, and only the consul general would know his true identity and mission. The job paid $150 a month, plus $600 every six months for expenses. In March 1941, Yoshikawa arrived in Honolulu.
Read the rest of the gripping account of Takeo Yoshikawa, the Pearl Harbor spy, in your brand new, very own, Uncle John’s HEAVY DUTY Bathroom Reader!