Documents reveal CIA meddling in Japanese elections

Taketora Ogata

Taketora Ogata

Researchers from three Japanese universities have unearthed US documents that detail CIA activities to monitor and influence Japanese politics in the early 1950s. Dubbed “The Ogata File”, the five-volume, 1,000-page document collection, which was declassified in 2005, relays CIA efforts to assist the electoral campaigns of Japanese conservative politician Taketora Ogata. Ogata led the Japan Liberal Party in the early 1950s and in 1955 was instrumental in merging his party along with other conservative groups into the Liberal Democratic Party, which has ruled Japan for most of the post-war period. In the early 1950s, the US was suspicious of Japan’s Prime Minister at the time, Ichiro Hatoyama, leader of the Japan Democratic Party, who wanted to mend his country’s relations with the USSR and considered resuming diplomatic ties with Moscow. To prevent this, the CIA decided to pursue electoral unity between the country’s opposition conservative parties, whose popularity had been severely damaged by their support of Japan’s imperial plans in World War II. The CIA station in Tokyo identified Ogata as the most likely unifying figure among the leaders of Japan’s conservative movement. It therefore initiated operation POCAPON in 1955, which involved weekly meetings between Ogata and CIA agents, as well as assigning agents to accompany the Japanese politician in his campaign trips. The Ogata File also reveals that the CIA considered Ogata as a reliable informer on Japanese politics and government. The CIA leadership was distressed when the elderly Ogata passed away in 1956. But the party he helped found, with CIA assistance, went on to rule Japan for several decades, effectively turning the country into a one-party state. In 2007, another collection of declassified CIA documents revealed a 1952 plan by Japanese right wing extremists working for the US government to topple the elected Japanese government and assassinate Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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