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A8-2/EF 37
Serial 119


17 November, 1941


From:          District Liason Officer
To  :          The Commandant

Subject:       General information on Japan.

     1.        The following information on Japan was received by me on 14 November from Headquarters Pacific Command, Victoria, B.C. (Canadian Army). Source - reliable.

     2.        Raw Materials

               The supply of oil and raw materials which have been accumulated in past years is underestimated.

         (a)   Oil  There is enormous oil storage sufficient for from two to five years of total war. Most of this is in the north and, it is reported, mostly underground.

         (b)   Scrap  The last American scrap arrived in Japan December, 1940. In March of 1941 all export contracts were suspended and contracts between Japan and the company represented by the informant were and still are outstanding. In July the order restricting exports became law.

     3.        War Materials

               From mobilization, indications are that Japan has far more war materials than is generally believed, particularly in tanks.

     4.        Metal factories have been working day and night for four or five years.

     5.        Nothing is coming into Japan except from China which is being systematically despoiled.

     6.        Bauxite  This was discovered within the Dutch East Indies within the past six years and was sold direct to the Japanese Government. Shipments have been halted. Japan may be short of this.

     7.        Rubber  Rubber supply has been completely cut off from the Dutch East Indies. The monthly consumption used to be from 5000


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A8-2/EF 37
Serial 119


Subject:       General information on Japan.
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to 6000 tons. This was cut down to 3000 tons in 1938. Considerable quantities used to be shipped to Germany through the German Commission of which Wholtat was the head.

               Indo China can supply 6000 tons of rubber per month which is adequate but allows no surplus. It is possible that supplies of rubber in Japan are low.

     8.        Tin  Tin stocks are not high. The Informant's firm received proposals for contraband tin but turned them down.

     9.        Vegatable Oils  Japan sought but was refused vast quantities from the Dutch East Indies, Note: We keep seeing the Dutch East Indies over and over again. though Japan actually requires comparatively little. 15,000 tons, the quantity asked for, is far beyond Japanese requirements.

     10.       Raw Cotton  The supply has been completely cut off and stocks are low. Army requirements are considerable.

     11.       There are no actual hardships imposed by reason of shortage of food. There is a rigid price control in Japan but in China the prices of rice and sugar has risen several hundred percent. Graft has been abolished to a very considerable extent under advice from Germans in contact with the Japanese Government.

     12.       Shipbuilding  Speed of production is enormous. In contrast to the Dutch East Indies who have been producing 12 knot ships with an eye to economical running the Japanese have been producing 18 knot ships. Note: This seems to not be talkinag about the rate of production as much as the rate of speed of the produced ship!

     13.       Army  The soldier is tough, with enormous powers of physical resistance. He is, however, very slow witted with no initiative. There are vast quantities of equipment, as evidenced by the "overseas" mobilization of June/July, probably of good second class quality including tanks of which they probably have several thousand. Discipline is excellent.

     14.       Navy  In 1933 and 1934 the informant states as definite fact that 3 destroyers turned turtle and could be seen bottom up in the harbor.

     15.       Air Force  This has been improved considerable, probably under German instructors. Fighter planes are definately poor. There are huge bombers which look good but appear to be slow. The difference between the Japanese Air Force and the U.S. Air Force at Honolulu was most marked. The Japanese Air Force could not stand up against the U.S. or British.


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A8-2/EF 37
Serial 119


Subject:       General information on Japan.
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     16.       Anti-Aircraft Defence  Japan is very vulnerable to an attack.
There is no visible A.A. defense, no shelters.
There is a large number of A.A. guns; these are constantly practicing in conjunction with searchlights; one of the methods is to loose gas ballons, pick them up with searchlights, and fire at them.
In connection with A.A defence these following points are of interest:

Kobe, dockyards, steel factories, munitions works.

Osaka, munitions and cotton. The joint population of Kobe and Osaka, 5 million.

Najoya, airplanes and munitions, population 1 million.

Tokyo and Najasaki, dockyards and munitions. Population 6 - 7 million.

All these are very visible from the sea.

     17.       Synthetic products and manufacturing ability.  Japan has no inventive genius. Everything must be copied. If Japan were to be isolated for 5 years it would mean a serious setback. With the necessary plans and blueprints Japan is able to produce good material, as is evidenced by the quality of their ships (though the Navy is said to have some queer looking craft). A further example is found in their looms whicb, in efficiancy, are not far behind those produced in Manchester.
Germany (through Krupp) has sold a number of patents to Japan, including those for making steel from low grade ore, (10,000,00 yen) and for cracking low grade oils and coal for making gasoline. The Krupp representative is the only foreigner permitted to visit Kokkaido.

     18.       Japanese Atrocities.  From most reliable sources it is stated that reports of atrocities are very much under-statements of the truth.

     19.       Politica1.  The Informant is definitely of the opinion that war is inevitable in the near future. The foreign policy is a run-away horse and the country is coming more and more into the hands of the military.

These were three reasons for the general "overseas" mobilization of June/July:

(a) To prevent Germany from getting Vladivostok.
(b) To expand to the south.
(c) Because of the fear of an armistice between England and Germany. For this reason it became necessary to increase the defence of China in order to be able to hold what they have taken.


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A8-2/EF 37
Serial 119


Subject:       General information on Japan.
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The reasons put forward for an early breach are:
Ths "overseas" mobilization required the transportation of vast quantities of war materials into China. This took two months. A further four months was required to prepare bases for attack; these bases will probably be ready in December and attack can be launched at any time after December.

This opinion is subject to the development of the German-Russian war.

Japan believes that England will suffer further reverses after the Russian campaign is over. She will then attack the Burma Road, not Singapore or the Dutch East Indies. The reasons for this are twofold: (a) in the hope that an attack on the Burma Road would not be considered a casus bel1i by the U.S., (b) to cut off supplies along the Burma Road.

If, however, the U.S. were to disclose the intention of declaring war if Japan were to move in any direction or if the Mediterranean were to be lost to the British the attack would immediately be directed against Singapore.

A subject of anxiety in Japan is the possibility of a German-Russian peace or a complete Russian defeat, giving Vladivostok to Germany, which would be entirely contrary to Japanese interests.

The Japanese do not trust the Germans in spite of the fact that Germans have penetrated into Japanese government departments. The German move into Russia, coming so soon after the non-aggression treaty between Japan and Russia shocked the Japanese sense of honour.

The present trend of politics is a return to the feudal state abolished in 1863. The move is, then, natural to the political and religious traditions of the Japanese race. The Emperor will be pushed back from the political sphere into the nomina1 and spiritual head of the Empire. Shinto will be continued and even more widely advocated as propaganda to maintain unity within the Empire.

     20.     Three additional copies are attached hereto for such disposition as the Commandant may desire.


Glenn Howell.

copies to: Chief of Staff
District Intelligence Officer (2)
District Material Officer
War Plans Officer
Commander Alaskan Sector
Port Director
Assistant District Supply Officer.
District Aviation Aide
Army Liaison Officer
District Communications Officer
Public Relations Officer
Commanding Officer, Seattle Air Station.

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National Archives & Records Administration, Seattle Branch
514916 (62A-140) Classified War Planning Files 1941-42

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