The Canon Organization - A Hidden Face of the Korean War

Tessa Morris-Suzuki

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


    This chapter reexamines Japan's experience of occupation, Cold War and the Korean War through the lens of the experiences of two people - Yamada Zenjiro (b. 1928) and Itagaki Kozo (b. 1930): both ordinary young men who became caught up in extraordinary postwar experiences. Yamada, after serving in a pilot trainee program during the war, went to work for the American occupation forces in Yokohama, and found himself employed as a cook by Jack Y. Canon, who headed an underground US intelligence operation under the supervision of Major General Charles A. Willoughby (1892-1972), head of intelligence (G2) for US army forces in Japan and the US Far Eastern Command. The Canon Organization's operations included kidnapping suspected Japanese and Korean "subversives", some of whom were held and interrogated in cellars underneath a mansion in central Tokyo. One of those held there was Itagaki, who had been born on the island of Sakhalin, which was a Japanese colony in prewar times. Itagaki had remained in Sakhalin after it was occupied by the USSR at the end of World War II, and returned to Japan on a smuggling ship. Itagaki and others were later trained by the Canon organization to undertake smuggling and espionage missions in Korea. Ultimately, Yamada and Itagaki became "whistle-blowers", revealing some of the Canon Organization's undercover activities to the Japanese public, and triggering one of the greatest postwar crises in Japan-US relations. The chapter uses previously unknown archival material and oral history interviews to shed new light on this episode on Japanese history and on its ongoing consequences for international relations in East Asia.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationA People's History of Ideas vol. 2: The Korean War
    EditorsT Morris-Suzuki
    Place of PublicationTokyo
    PublisherIwanami Shoten
    ISBN (Print)9784000288026
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


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