Hoover’s New Japanese Materials Explore The Cold War’s Intricate Landscape In Northeast Asia

Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Map showing Soviet naval activities off Inchon Bay, January 1954.

Letter from Japanese prime minister Yoshida Shigeru to the Continental Affairs Research Institute acknowledging its offer of valuable military intelligence, January 1953.
Letter from Japanese prime minister Yoshida Shigeru to the Continental Affairs Research Institute acknowledging its offer of valuable military intelligence, January 1953.

The Hoover Archives recently acquired Japanese archival materials relating to a Tokyo-based, allegedly private-funded think tank called the Continental Affairs Research Institute (Tairiku Mondai Kenkyujo). After Japan’s World War II surrender in August 1945, its new peace constitution forbid all military activities and the creation of any military establishment. As a result, the postwar Japanese government’s gathering of military intelligence was outsourced to various nonofficial organizations under the cover of academic research or other unrelated purposes. The Continental Affairs Research Institute, founded by Doi Akio, a former major-general in the Japanese imperial army who was also a Soviet expert, was one such outfit. The Soviet Union, the People’s Republic of China, and the Mongolian People’s Republic were the institute’s main targets. Its recruits included a number of Russian, Chinese, and Korean defectors, whose espionage activities were conducted in many areas, included Hong Kong, North Korea, and small isles north of Hokkaido.

Hoover’s Continental Affairs Research Institute Collection includes correspondence between the Japanese government and the institute and analysis of and intelligence reports on Soviet Russia, China, and Mongolia from the early 1950s to the 1960s. Those materials will broaden our understanding of the history of Cold War in Asia, elucidating how the defeated Japanese endeavored to revitalize their military intelligence activities within the constraints imposed by the United States.  

The map featured above shows Soviet naval activities off Inchon Bay in January 1954.