The JIA (Japanese Imperial Army) back in WW2 (World War II) proved their military supremacy against all other Asian countries. They impressively occupied 12 Asian countries at the same time. Unfortunately, they committed “war crimes” and “plundered” tons of valuable items from those countries. The JIA were ordered to empty the banks, factories, museums, temples and even private homes.
A Japanese Imperial Prince named “Prince Chichibu” (brother of “Hirohito”) was the one who ordered the looting. Interestingly, he had a separate group who specialized in pillaging occupied territories. They call themselves “kin no yuri” or “Golden Lily” which was taken from one of their emperor’s poems.
Hiding all the Looted Treasures
The JIA knew that they won’t be able to take control all Asian countries that they conquered for a certain period of time. Their economy was also drastically falling down because other countries no longer wanted to trade with their economy. This led to the low supplies needed by the JIA to maintain their newly acquired territories. Thus, to compensate for their economic loses and to maintain their source of funding their military, they decided to “loot”.
Their secret plan on how to bring all their war loots back into their mainland is discussed on this post, “Treasure Hunting in the Philippines”.
One of the most rumored and controversial event on the record today regarding about one of the largest Yamashita treasure hidden in the Philippines actually involved “murder” and “betrayal”. The one responsible for the largest hidden deposit in the country was “Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita”. On their final day, the infamous General thrown a farewell party to all his chief engineers and soldiers who worked all nights and days digging the tunnel known to be around 67 meters deep from the ground. At the most bottom part of the tunnel was the chamber where they piled all remaining treasures in their possessions. So the Japanese General instructed them to celebrate their party inside the tunnel specifically in the chamber.
The soldiers celebrated their final day by drinking so much wine because on the next day, they can now surrender themselves in peace. Deviously, General Yamashita and the Imperial Princes secretly escaped out from the tunnel and set off all the entrances with powerful explosives. As a result, they killed most of their men by burying them alive inside the tunnel.
The Imperial Princes managed to escape out from the Philippines via submarine while it was a mystery why the General decided to stay. Three months later, General Yamashita finally revealed himself and personally surrendered to the American troops.
A Witness to the Hidden Yamashita Treasure
The majority of individuals in the Philippines including the government denies the existence of the Yamashita treasure. They often claim that it was just a “myth” or “legend” that does not truly exist. But not until “Ben Valmores” stand claim as a witness.
Ben Valmores was an ordinary Filipino who served as a valet (a personal male attendant) of the senior prince during his younger age. He also served the prince named “Takeda Tsuneyoshi”, the first cousin of Hirohito and the grandson of Emperor Meiji.
Aside from being a valet, he was also assigned as the one who closed all the imperial treasure sites in the country. In relation to the event discussed above, Ben was supposedly included as one of the victims but the senior prince grab his hand leading him outside the tunnel before the explosion took place.
To test if Ben was telling the truth, a group of curious investigators conducted a test on him in 1998. The investigators collected photos (dated around 1930’s) of different Japanese Imperial Princes then they covered any possible identifications from them. The test was to let Ben identify his wartime master.
When the photos were presented to Ben, he surprisingly identified prince Takeda with ease. According to him, they spent some unforgettable moments treating each other like a very close friend. This was the reason why he cannot forget the face of his master. Other than Takeda, he was also able to identify the other princes.
The Americans Secretly Recovered some of the Yamashita Treasures
There were rumors that a certain group of American Secret Intelligence worked for the investigation about where the JIA hid their war loots. As a result, they realized that the JIA hid them all in the Philippines. Due to this reason, the Americans decided to stay in the country for a while as they recovered some of the hidden Yamashita treasures.
Did you know that General Yamashita’s staff were severely tortured?
When General Yamashita and his military staffs surrendered, all of them except the General were severely tortured especially “Major Kojima Kashii”. The person behind the torturing procedures was a Filipino-American Intelligence officer, “Severino Garcia Santa Romana” or “Santy” in short. Aside from Santy was “Captain Edward Lansdale” who supervised the torturing procedures.
The primary objective of torturing General Yamashita’s staffs was for them to reveal the secret locations about where they buried their war loots. It was in the early month of October when Major Kojima gave up leading both Captain Lansdale and Santy at the north region of Manila. There they uncovered a large pile of treasure deposit.
The recovery of the treasures greatly surprised “General MacArthur” and the “White House”. “President Harry Truman” and his “Cabinet Members” even discussed the recovered treasures where they decided to keep it as a “state secret”.