Thursday, July 7, 2011

Yamashita Treasure

General Tomoyuki Yamashita
Yamashita Treasure also known as the Yamashita's Gold, is the name given to the alleged war loot stolen in Southeast Asia by Japanese forces during World War II and hidden in caves, tunnels and underground complexes in the Philippines. It is named for the Japanese general Tomoyuki Yamashita, nicknamed "The Tiger of Malaya". Though accounts that the treasure remains hidden in the Philippines have lured treasure hunters from around the world for over fifty years, its existence is discounted by most experts. The rumored treasure has been the subject of a complex lawsuit that was filed in the Hawaiian state court in 1988 involving a Filipino treasure hunter and the former Philippine president. Prominent among those arguing for the existence of Yamashita's gold are Sterling Seagrave and Peggy Seagrave, who have written two books relating to the subject: The Yamato Dynasty: The Secret History of Japan's Imperial Family(2000) and Gold Warriors: America's Secret Recovery of Yamashita's Gold (2003). The Seagraves contend that looting was organized on a massive scale, by booth yakuza gangsters such as Yoshio Kodama, and the highest levels of Japanese   society, including Emperor Hirohito. The Japanese government intended that the loot from Southeast Asia would finance Japan's war effort. The Seagraves alleged that Hirohito appointed his brother, Prince Yasuhito Chichibu, to head a secret organization called Kin no yuri ("Golden Lily"), for this purpose. It is purported that many of those who knew the locations of the loot were killed during the the war, or later tried by  the Allies for war crimes and executed or incarcerated. Yamashita himself executed by the U.S. Army for his war crimes on February 23, 1946.

      The stolen property reportedly included many different kinds of valuables looted from banks, depositories, temples, churches, other commercial premises, mosque, museums and private homes. It takes its name from General Tomoyuki Yamashita, who assumed command of Japanese forces in the Philippines in 1944.

     According to various accounts, the loot was initially concentrated in Singapore, and later transported to the Philippines. The Japanese hoped to ship the treasure from the Philippines to the Japanese Home Islands after the war ended. As the War in the Pacific progressed, U.S. Navy submarines and Allied warplanes inflicted increasingly heavy sinkings of Japanese Merchant shipping. Some of the ships carrying the war booty back to Japan were sunk in combat.

      The Seagraves and the few others have claimed that American Military Intelligence Operatives located much of the loot; they colluded with Hirohito and other senior Japanese figures to conceal its existence, and; they used it to finance American covert intelligence operations around the world during the Cold War. These rumors have inspired many hopefuls treasure hunters, but most experts and Filipino historians say there is no credible evidence behind these claims.

      Many individuals and cosortia, both Philippine and foreign, continue to search sites. A number of accidental deaths, injuries and financial losses incurred by treasure hunters have been reported.
At present, the Mines and Geo Sciences Bureau of the Department of Natural Resources of the Philippines is the Philippine government agency that grants treasure permits.

      University of the Philippines professor Rico Jose has questioned the theory that treasure from mainland South East Asia was transported to the Philippines: By 1943 the Japanese were no longer in control of the seas. "It does not make sense to bring in something that valuable here when you know it is going to be lost to the Americans anyway. The more rational thing would have been send it to Taiwan or China".

      Philippines National Historical Institute chairman and historian Ambeth Ocampo commented: "Two of the wealth myths I usually encounter are the Yamashita treasure and gossip that the Cojuangco fortune was founded on a bag of money..." Ocampo also said: "For the past 50 years many people, both Filipinos and foreigners, have spent their time, money and energy in search of Yamashita's elusive treasure."

                                Yamashita' s Gold in Popular Culture:

* Yamashita's gold, though not mentioned by that name, serves as a major plot element of Cryptonomicon, a   novel by Neal Stephenson.
* A film about the alleged treasure, Yamashita: The Tiger's Treasure, directed by Chito S. Ronio was released in the Philippines in 2001.
* An episode of the American TV series Unsolved Mysteries, first broadcast on American TV on January 27, 1993, discussed the fate of the loot that has supposedly been amassed by Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita
* The latter part of the console game Medal of Honor: Rising Sun is about the gold.
* Yamashita's gold serves as a plot element of Dragon, a novel by Clive Cussler.
* The Malaysian movie, Scenario: Pemburu Emas Yamashita tells about Yamashita's hidden gold in a cave in      the Malaysian jungle.
* Ore or Or, a play by Duncan Pflaster uses Yamashita's gold as a metaphor for the love, lives of the modern-day characters, one of whom is trying to determine if a crate of of Golden Statues uncovered in the Philippines was part of Yamashita's hoard or not.
* Yamashita's Gold was featured in an episode of a Philippine Television Show I-Witness entitled,"Ginto"(gold).
* The Mystery of Yamashita's Map, (2007 Hardcover)(2009 Paperback), a novel written by James McKenzie tells the story of a group of treasure hunters who go in search of Yamashita's gold. 
* A TV show, " Yamashita's Treasure" was aired by Singapore's Media, Mediacorp in 2010....more

1 comment:

  1. The book called "The Mystery of Yamashita's Map" is a best seller in Japan and even features in George Takei's (Star Trek, Heroes) website. It also sold well across the world, proof that the legend is popular everywhere...Hollywood are you listening..?
    http://www.georgetakei.jp/info/news/n20090708.php

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