Top secret interviews with WW2 Japanese navy brass to be published

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The Koyanagi File -- an extensive collection of testimonies on the Pacific War by former navy ministers and commanding officers of the Imperial Japanese Navy -- will be released to the public for the first time in April.

The file, consisting of some 4,000 pages in 44 volumes, was compiled by the Suiko-kai, an association of retired Japanese naval officials, based on interviews conducted by Vice Admiral Tomiji Koyanagi (1893-1978) with a total of 47 former navy ministers, admirals and other top officials of the Imperial Japanese Navy between 1956 and 1961.

The file had been kept confidential for nearly half a century, and former naval officials had maintained strict silence with the media after the war. However, the association has decided to publish the file this year, hoping that "the valuable materials will contribute to promoting research after most of the witnesses have passed away."

Among the members of the "Silent Navy," where brevity was considered a virtue, former Navy Minister and Chief of the Navy General Staff Shigetaro Shimada in particular was known as a person of very few words.

Historical novelist Kazutoshi Hando, who interviewed Shimada twice, recalls: "He met with me at the entrance of his house. I told him there was something I needed to ask him, but he just kept staring at my face and wouldn't say a word whatsoever. In the end, I left his home after just five minutes."

The record, however, includes the very rare testimonies of Shimada, who shares his views on his responsibility as navy minister for the wartime Hideki Tojo government, as well as his memories of Tojo after the war....

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Jonathan Dresner - 3/17/2010

All due respect, Mr. Clayson, but you're only half right. This is going to be interesting material, without question. But no historical source is above critical reading, and the track record of Japanese military and political figures honestly and fully self-reporting their wartime activities is mixed. I would not be at all surprised to see both self-promotion and denial in these interviews.

Vernon Clayson - 3/16/2010

This should be of interest to anyone with an interest in history, the best part is that it surely will be no nonsense there being nothing to gain from grandiose self promotion such as we see now in our military and political leaders.