HOW AMERICA SECRETLY
RECOVERED YAMASHITA’S GOLD
By Sterling & Peggy Seagrave
“Easily the best guide to the scandal of Yamashita’s Gold”
~ Dr. Chalmers Johnson, London Review of Books.
A BOWSTRING BOOK
©2010 Sterling and Peggy Seagrave All rights reserved
The moral rights of the authors have been asserted.
A BOWSTRING BOOK
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
A catalog record for this book is available from the Library of Congress
Also by Sterling Seagrave
Soldiers of Fortune
The Soong Dynasty
The Marcos Dynasty
with Peggy Seagrave
Lords of the Rim
The Yamato Dynasty
Red Sky in the Morning
Lords 2010: China’s Renaissance
Cast of Main Characters
Chapter 1 ............BEHIND THE MASK
Chapter 2.............ROGUE SAMURAI
Chapter 3.............THE RAPE OF CHINA
Chapter 4.............STORMING THE INDIES
Chapter 5 ............HIDING THE PLUNDER
Chapter 6.............THE EYEWITNESS
Chapter 7 ............DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE
Chapter 8.............DIRTY TRICKS
Chapter 9.............HEART OF DARKNESS
Chapter 10...........THE UMBRELLA
Chapter 11...........POINTING THE WAY
Chapter 12 .........SANCTIFYING THE GOLD
Chapter 13..........THE PALADINS
Chapter 14..........LOOSE CANNONS
Chapter 15..........CONNECT THE DOTS
Chapter 16..........CONFLICT OF INTEREST
Chapter 17..........GRAND LARCENY
Epilogue.............MEN IN BLACK
CAST OF MAIN CHARACTERS
ACKERMAN, Robert A. – Washington lawyer, explained how ex-CIA officials tried to regain
control of black gold accounts in New York banks.
ANDERSON, Robert B. – Toured treasure sites with MacArthur, set up Black Eagle Trust with
Japanese war loot, member of Eisenhower cabinet.
ANGLETON, James Jesus – Top CIA official, used Nazi and Japanese war loot to rig postwar
elections in Italy and Greece.
ASAKA Yasuhiko, Prince – Commanded rape and looting of Nanking.
BARANGAN, General Santiago – His memos to Marcos describe secret talks with top Japanese
officials for joint recovery of war loot in Manila.
BELLI, Melvin – San Francisco lawyer, sued Citibank for misappropriating war gold from Santa
BUSH, George H. W. President – Wrote personal note to head of Japan’s LDP that enabled Alexander
Haig to negotiate a billion-dollar IOU.
CANNON, Colonel Jack – Used war-gold to finance death squads in occupied Japan, to eliminate
leftists and labor organizers.
CASEY, William – CIA director; involved with Lansdale gold recoveries and Black Eagle Trust;
later removed Marcos from power.
CATHCART, Daniel – California lawyer whose successful suit against Marcos for theft of the Gold
Buddha won a $43-billion judgment.
CHICHIBU, Prince – Brother of Emperor Hirohito; headed Golden Lily campaign to loot all of East
& Southeast Asia, then hid the treasure.
CLINE, Ray – CIA deputy director; used Japanese war loot to manipulate foreign governments; fought
for control of Santa Romana gold at Citibank.
CURTIS, Robert – Mining expert brought in by Marcos to launder gold; engineered major recoveries,
photographed 173 original Golden Lily maps.
DOIHARA, General – Japan’s senior secret agent, one of five top men in Golden Lily, masterminded
the looting of Manchuria and China.
DULLES, Allen – CIA director, brother of J.F. Dulles, oversaw the Black Eagle Trust and set
ting up scores of slush funds around the world.
DULLES, John Foster – Arch-conservative Secretary of State, contrived false 1951 peace treaty to
shield Japan’s elite from reparations.
FORINGER, Alan – CIA agent in Nippon Star and Phoenix Exploration; explained how war-gold
would finance private American gestapo.
HIROHITO, Emperor – Received and never returned the finest cultural treasures stolen from 12
countries; kept secret Swiss gold accounts.
JONSSON, Olof — Swedish psychic brought in by Marcos to pinpoint treasure vaults and sunken
ships, saw warehouses filled with stolen gold.
KISHI Nobosuke, Prime Minister – Headed looting of Manchuria, served in Tojo’s war cabinet;
Nixon gave him control of the M-Fund.
KODAMA Yoshio – Japan’s top gangster; aided Golden Lily by looting China’s underworld; used
proceeds to set up Japan’s ruling LDP.
KOJIMA Kashii – Chauffeur of General Yamashita, tortured by Lansdale and Santa Romana to reveal
a dozen vaults where treasure was hidden.
LANSDALE, Edward G. – Became America’s most famous Cold Warrior thanks to torture of Kojima
and recovery of Japanese gold.
LAUSIER, Edmond C. –Banking expert whose file of Japanese documents proved that notorious “57”
debt instruments were not forgeries.
MACARTHUR, General Douglas –Used war loot to create a trust fund for Hirohito at Sanwa Bank;
also set up the secret M-Fund to back the LDP.
MARCOS, Imelda – Former Philippine first lady, accused of hiding gold in banks around the world;
bribed witnesses to lie about Gold Buddha.
MARCOS, Ferdinand – Philippine dictator, recovered Japanese treasure in the 1970s, shared the
gold with CIA and White House until his downfall.
MCCLOY, John J. – Original planner of global Black Eagle Trust based on Nazi and Japanese war
loot; became head of the World Bank.
MCMICKING, Joseph – MacArthur protégé who presided over torture of Major Kojima; used some
of the war gold to become a global financier.
MIYAZAWA, Kiichi – Finance Minister and one of three Japanese who negotiated rigged 1951 peace
treaty; still chief controller of the M-Fund.
ROXAS, Roger – Found solid gold Buddha looted from Burma; after President Marcos stole it,
Roxas was tortured and murdered to silence him.
SANTA ROMANA, Severino – Tortured Yamashita’s driver, recovered 12 treasure vaults; became
CIA ‘gatekeeper’ of the Black Eagle Trust.
SCHLEI, Norbert – Former deputy U.S. attorney general, falsely convicted for trying to negotiate a
“57” IOU; ruined financially and professionally.
SCHWEITZER, General Robert – Advisor to President Reagan; begged Robert Curtis to help White
House recover more war loot.
SINGLAUB, General John – Schweitzer’s partner in gold recoveries, he spent millions in the
Philippines digging holes in the wrong places.
TAKEDA Tsuneyoshi, Prince – Cousin of Hirohito, grandson of Meiji; took charge of hiding war
treasure at 175 vaults in the Philippines.
VALMORES, Ben – Philippine rice farmer; as a boy he was valet to Prince Takeda, visiting all 175
treasure vaults; was given a copy of Takeda’s maps.
WHITNEY, General Courtney – MacArthur’s lawyer and intelligence chief, set up M-Fund to
influence Japanese elections with massive bribes.
WILLOUGHBY, General Charles – MacArthur’s G-2 chief, paid war criminals to rewrite history and
manipulate Japan’s government.
YAMASHITA, General Tomoyuki – Japan’s top general, conqueror of Singapore; wrongly linked to
plunder by the misnomer Yamashita’s Gold.
SLAYING THE MESSENGER
Many people told us this book was historically important and must be published – then warned us that
if it were published, we would be murdered. An Australian economist who read it said, “I hope they
let you live.” He did not have to explain who ‘they’ were.
Japan’s looting of Asia, and the hiding of this war-gold in American banks, is closely linked to
the issue of Holocaust gold hidden in Swiss banks. Revealing the secrets of either is a dangerous
business. Jean Ziegler, a Swiss professor and parliamentarian, did much to expose five decades of
official amnesia in his book The Swiss, the Gold and the Dead. After publishing it and testifying in
1998 before the U.S. Senate Banking Committee about Jewish assets in Swiss banks, he was charged
with ‘treason’ by Swiss Federal Prosecutor Carla del Ponte. The charge was brought by twenty-one
financiers, commercial lawyers, and politicians of the far right, many of them major stockholders in
large Swiss banks. They accused Ziegler of being an accomplice of Jewish organizations who
‘extorted’ vast sums of money from Switzerland.
Ziegler is only one of many who have been persecuted for putting ethics before greed.
Christophe Meili, a Union Banque Suisse (UBS) security guard, was threatened with murder and the
kidnapping of his wife and children after he testified before a U.S. Senate committee about documents
he rescued from UBS shredders. He and his family were given asylum in America.
We have been threatened with murder before. When we published The Soong Dynasty we were
warned by a senior CIA official that a hit team was being assembled in Taiwan to come murder us.
He said, “I would take this very seriously, if I were you.” We vanished for a year to an island off the
coast of British Columbia. While we were gone, a Taiwan hit team arrived in San Francisco and shot
dead the Chinese-American journalist Henry Liu.
When we published The Marcos Dynasty we expected trouble from the Marcos family and its
cronies, but instead we were harassed by Washington. Others had investigated Marcos, but we were
the first to show how the U.S. Government was secretly involved with Marcos gold deals. We came
under attack from the U.S. Treasury Department and its Internal Revenue Service, whose agents made
threatening midnight phone calls to our elderly parents. Arriving in New York for an author tour, one
of us was intercepted at JFK airport, passport seized, and held incommunicado for three hours.
Eventually the passport was returned, without a word of explanation. When we ran Freedom of
Information queries to see what was behind it, we were grudgingly sent a copy of a telex message on
which every word was blacked out, including the date. The justification given for this censorship was
the need to protect government sources, which are above the law.
During one harassing phone call from a U.S. Treasury agent, he said he was sitting in his office
watching an interview we had done for a Japanese TV network – an interview broadcast only in
Japanese, which we had never seen.
After publishing The Yamato Dynasty, which briefly mentioned the discovery that is the basis
for Gold Warriors, our phones and email were tapped. We know this because when one of us was in
a European clinic briefly for a medical procedure, the head nurse reported that ‘someone posing as
your American doctor’ had been on the phone asking questions.
When a brief extract of this book was published in the South China Morning Post in August
2001, several phone calls from the editors were cut off suddenly. Emails from the newspaper took 72
hours to reach us, while copies sent to an associate nearby arrived instantly.
In recent months, we began to receive veiled death threats.
What have we done to provoke murder? To borrow a phrase from Jean Ziegler, we are
‘combating official amnesia’.
We live in dangerous times, like Germany in the 1930s, when anyone who makes inconvenient
disclosures about hidden assets can be branded a ‘terrorist’ or a ‘traitor’. A few months ago, three ex-
ambassadors to Japan declared that former American POWs and civilian slave laborers, suing giant
Japanese corporations for compensation, were tantamount to terrorists. Now a CIA official says that
leaks of classified information must be stopped, even if it is necessary to “send SWAT teams into
Everybody’s national security is a serious matter. We have no argument with that. But national
security can be invoked to hide official corruption, and conflict of interest. It’s called tyranny. The
only cure is openness and sunlight.
In this book, we do not question whether President Truman did the right thing in keeping these
war-gold recoveries secret. That is for others to debate. What we point out is that total secrecy
enabled corrupt people to abuse the resulting slush funds, and these abuses have multiplied like a
cancer, ever since. A global network of corruption has grown around the slush funds. Bureaucrats,
politicians, spooks, and generals, have become addicted to black money. There are indications that a
lot of this war-gold has been siphoned off by America’s far right, under the guise of patriotism. The
unintended consequences of Truman’s decision have become a poisonous part of the world financial
system, putting innocent people at hazard. Those people and institutions benefiting from this
corruption will do everything possible to hide it, including murder.
The only way to get rid of an illness is first to recognize what it is. But when the emperor goes
crazy from syphilis of the brain, the first person to be tortured and burned at the stake is the doctor
who made the diagnosis – slaying the messenger.
Despite the best efforts of the American and Japanese governments to destroy, withhold, or lose
documentation related to Golden Lily, we have accumulated thousands of documents, conducted
thousands of hours of interviews, and we make all of these available to readers of this book on two
Compact Disks, available from our website www.bowstring.net so they can make up their own minds.
We encourage others with knowledge of these events to come forward. When the top is corrupt, the
truth will not come from the top. It will emerge in bits and pieces from people like Jean Ziegler and
Christophe Meili, who decided they had to ‘do something’.
As a precaution, should anything odd happen, we have arranged for this book and all its
documentation to be put up on the Internet at a number of sites.
If we are murdered, readers will have no difficulty figuring out who ‘they’ are. Readers will
find exhaustive annotations at the back of this book. Those wishing to see additional documentation,
maps, images, and photographs in both black-and-white and color, may obtain compact discs
containing more than 900 megabytes of data from the authors’ website at
“Money is the sinew of war.”
“The first casualty, when war comes, is truth.”
— Senator Hiram Johnson, 1918
“The study of money, above all other fields in economics, is one in which complexity is used to
disguise truth or to evade truth, not to reveal it.”
– John Kenneth Galbraith
In the closing months of World War II in the Philippines, while General Yamashita Tomoyuki fought a
delaying action in the rugged mountains of Luzon, several of Japan’s highest-ranking imperial princes
were preparing for the future. They were busy hiding tons of looted gold bullion and other stolen
treasure in nearby caves and tunnels, to be recovered later. This was the property of twelve Asian
countries, accumulated over thousands of years. Expert teams accompanying Japan’s armed forces
had systematically emptied treasuries, banks, factories, private homes, pawn shops, art galleries, and
stripped ordinary people, while Japan’s top gangsters looted Asia’s underworld and black economy.
In this, the Japanese were far more thorough than the Nazis. It was as if a giant vacuum cleaner passed
across East and Southeast Asia. Much of the plunder reached Japan overland through Korea. The rest,
moving by sea, got no farther than the Philippines as the U.S. submarine blockade became complete in
early 1943. Hiding the treasure there was crucial, so that if Japan lost the war militarily, it would not
lose financially. In whatever settlement concluded the war, Japan always expected to keep the
Philippines. Overseen by the princes, 175 ‘imperial’ treasure vaults were constructed throughout the
islands. Early in June 1945, when U.S. tanks were less than twenty miles from Bambang, the 175
chief engineers of those vaults were given a farewell party 220 feet underground in a complex known
as Tunnel-8, stacked wall-to-wall with row after row of gold bars. As the evening progressed, they
drank great quantities of sake, sang patriotic songs and shouted Banzai (‘long life’) over and over. At
midnight, General Yamashita and the princes slipped out, and dynamite charges were set off in the
access tunnels, entombing the engineers. They were buried alive. Those who did not kill themselves
ritually would gradually suffocate, surrounded by gold bars. The vaults would remain secret. In
subsequent days, the princes escaped to Japan by submarine, and three months later General
Yamashita surrendered to American troops.
For half a century, this grisly live burial remained unknown. The hidden treasure was brushed
off as ‘the legend of Yamashita’s Gold’. But an eyewitness to the entombment has taken us to Tunnel-8
and given us his personal account. During the war, Ben Valmores was the young Filipino valet of an
exceptional Japanese prince, who was in charge of building, inventorying and sealing all imperial
treasure sites in the Philippines. Highly educated and sometimes sentimental, the prince spared Ben’s
life at the last moment and led him out of Tunnel-8, just before the dynamite was detonated. Ben, in
poor health in his mid-seventies when we interviewed him, told us over many months what he saw
and experienced in the company of his prince, from 1943 to 1945. He provided us with essential
clues that eventually enabled us to identify his prince, and most of the other princes involved.
Japan’s looting of Asia was overseen by Emperor Hirohito’s charming and cultivated brother,
Prince Chichibu. His organization was code-named kin no yuri (Golden Lily), the title of one of the
emperor’s poems. Lesser princes headed different branches of Golden Lily across the conquered
territories. Japanese sources now have confirmed that Ben’s wartime master was Prince Takeda
Tsuneyoshi, first cousin of Emperor Hirohito and a grandson of Emperor Meiji. To corroborate this,
in 1998 we gave Ben a ‘blind test’ with obscure 1930s photographs of many princes; photos that we
obtained from the British Library Oriental Collection. These were photos of the princes in army
uniform, as they looked on the eve of Pearl Harbor. Although we removed the names from each photo,
and mingled photographs of ordinary soldiers, Ben instantly identified Prince Takeda, Hirohito’s two
brothers Prince Chichibu and Prince Mikasa, and the elder Prince Asaka who had commanded
Japanese armies at the Rape of Nanking. Ben said he had spent time with each of them, bringing them
food, tea and cigarettes while they inventoried and closed treasure sites. Ben Valmores was a rural
rice farmer who never left the Philippines, and never went beyond grade school, so his instant correct
identification of the princes was persuasive. When he came upon our photo of Prince Takeda, Ben
froze, then began crooning the Japanese folk song Sakura, Sakura (‘Cherry Blossoms’), which he
said Takeda often sang to himself.
The discovery of Prince Takeda’s identity provided us with a piece missing from a much larger
puzzle. While we were writing a biography of Japan’s imperial family, The Yamato Dynasty, we
were told that in October 1945, American intelligence agents learned the location of some Japanese
treasure vaults in the Philippines, and secretly recovered billions of dollars worth of gold, platinum,
cultural artifacts, and loose gems. This information, if true, revealed the existence of an extraordinary
state secret that the U.S. Government had kept hidden for over half a century. So serious were the
implications that we decided they merited separate investigation. Here is some of what we have
On September 2, 1945, after receiving official notice of Japan’s surrender, General Yamashita
and his staff emerged from their mountain stronghold in the Kiangan Pocket and presented their
swords to a group of U.S. Army officers led by Military Police Major A.S. ‘Jack’ Kenworthy, who
took them to New Bilibad Prison outside Manila. Because of gruesome atrocities committed earlier
by Admiral Iwabuchi Kanji’s sailors and marines in the city of Manila (after Yamashita had ordered
them to leave the city unharmed), the general was charged with war crimes. During his trial there was
no mention of war loot. But there was a hidden agenda.