How U.S. Prepared for Japanese Invasion
Japan’s Pearl Harbor Cover-Up
In San Francisco, author and radio personality Upton Close, who was described by NBC as their “expert on the Far East,” opened his radio commentary Sunday afternoon by saying “there’s more behind this than meets the eye.”
He had picked up his phone, called the Japanese Consulate in San Francisco and asked to speak with Consul General Yoshio Muto. Instead, he was connected with Kazuyoshi Inagaki, who identified himself as the Consul’s secretary and who told Close that the Pearl Harbor attack came as a “complete surprise” to the consulate staff and that the first he and Muto knew about it came in American radio bulletins.
“That may prove to be true,” Close speculated. “It is very possible that there is a double-double cross in this business. . .. It is possible that this is a coup engineered by a small portion of the Japanese Navy that has gone fanatic. . .. It might be possible for the Japanese government to repudiate this action, to repair the injury to America.”
Though he was nurturing a conspiracy theory, he went on to accurately recall that in 1931, when the Japanese Kwantung Army had launched its offensive against the Chinese in Manchuria, the Japanese government in Tokyo had no advance knowledge of the action. Indeed, Close had verified this at the time by phoning the Japanese foreign office and speaking to the chagrinned diplomats.
Inside Japan’s consulate in San Francisco at 2622 Jackson Street, Muto and Inagaki were busily shoveling sensitive documents into fireplaces. The flames burst out of control and the fire department had to save the building.
Preparing for War
On December 8, on the morning after Pearl Harbor, a front-page editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle called for unity of purpose, and an end to the ongoing debate over isolationism, noting that “by the act of Japan, America is at war. The time for debate has passed and the time for action has come. This action must be united and unanimous. ‘Politics is adjourned.’ From now on America is an army with every man, woman and child in it, all joined by the one end of victory.”
Each of the three Pacific Coast governors issued statements calling for calm, and preparing their citizens for the unknowns that were sure to flow from the confused circumstances of the war in which they now found themselves.
“The State of Washington is on the frontier of a great war,” said Governor Arthur Langlie. “We do not know what the future holds in store for us. We do not know what trials we must go through or what sacrifices we will be called upon to make. We do know what is at stake.”
Oregon governor Charles Sprague, who was also the editor and publisher of Salem’s Oregon Statesman, as well as the director of the State Council of Defense for Oregon, used a front page editorial published in an “Extra” edition of his own newspaper on Sunday. “We are at war, Sprague wrote. “Well, we have been at war before and have acquitted ourselves honorably. We will do so again. We are all Americans in this war of defense.”