August 15 this year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. At the time I will be visiting India for four nights and five days. My schedule consists of talks with the Minister of Road Transport and Highways, the Minister of Tourism, a former Deputy Prime Minister called the Kingmaker, the owner of an expansive hotel chain, famous movie producers and others.
It is my third time visiting India, one of the foremost pro-Japan nations in the world. I have visited eighty different countries and had talks with the leading figures in each. Regardless of the country, when meeting face-to-face all of them praise Japan’s post-war economic growth, ODA etc., and the contributions those brought to the world. At the same time they recognize that it is because of Japan that China and Korea have developed to the point where they are now. However, in Japan education and press coverage continue to promote history fabricated by China and Korea, claiming that Japan was the invader during the World War, repeatedly carried out massacres and forcibly transported numerous women into work as sex slaves.
Many of the people who argue that Japan was the invader in newspapers and on TV consider the Huanggutun incident to be the beginning. Many Japanese people still assume that Colonel Daisaku Komoto ordered the assassination of Zhang Zuolin by destroying his train with explosives. However, knowing that a Russian historian by the name of Dmitri Prokhorov has written that the crime was committed by the Soviet secret service, I travelled to meet him in Saint Petersburg on September 22, 2009.
The following is a reprint of the first half of my conversation with Mr. Prokhorov, originally published in the 2009 Apple Town December issue.
Motoya Thank you very much for agreeing to this interview. I have wanted to meet you (Mr. Prokhorov) since 2005 when Mao: The Unknown Story by Jung Chang was published in Japan. In the book it is written that the 1928 Huanggutun incident was the work of the Soviet secret service, and the source of that information was The GRU Empire written by you, Mr. Prokhorov.
Prokhorov My pleasure. Actually The GRU Empire does not mention the Zhang Zuolin incident. I first wrote about the Huanggutun incident for a military newspaper in 2002, and two years later in 2004 a passage about who killed Zhang Zuolin in KGB – Special Operations of Soviet Intelligence.
Motoya This is a copy of the book KGB – Special Operations of Soviet Intelligence, then. How many copies did it sell in Russia?
Prokhorov 55 thousand copies in total.
Motoya Was it published outside of Russia?
Prokhorov Neither I nor my co-author Alexander Kolpakidi knew about it, but I’ve heard that it was published in Germany. Aside from that I don’t know.
Motoya What are the contents of the book like?
Prokhorov The book is about incidents involving KGB that took place outside of Russia. The Zhang Zuolin incident is one of them. In addition to the profile of Zhang Zuolin, the book provides an account of why the Soviet Union wanted to assassinate him and describes an attempted assassination two years before the bomb killing in June 1928.
Motoya I didn’t know there was an unsuccessful attempt. What reason did the Soviet Union have to make two attempts on Zhang Zuolin’s life?
Prokhorov At the time the people with power in China were divided into those who supported the communist party and those who were against it, like Zhang Zuolin. Zhang supported the Russian counter-revolutionaries, the White Army. Finally, he patrolled the Chinese Eastern Railway, making him decisively opposed to the Soviet Union.
Motoya So that was the background. How were you able to research the activities of the secret service at the time?
Prokhorov I researched history books and contemporary newspapers, read other documents and exchanged information with other journalists. The starting point of my research was when I found a mention that an operative called Nahum Eitingon was involved with the Huanggutun incident from a book by the historian Volkogonov.
Motoya So from the outset there was someone there, pointing at the involvement of the Soviet Union.
Prokhorov Right. In the attempted assassination in September 1926, a Latvian Soviet operative by the name of Christopher Salnyn planned to kill Zhang Zuolin in his palace in Mukden by having a man called Brakhorov plant explosives. The plan was discovered by the Chinese and failed. It is conceivable that the 1928 plan was also supervised by Salnyn. He had connections to people in the Japanese military.
Motoya Does that mean that there were agents of the Soviet secret service in the Kwantung Army?
Prokhorov Not just Salnyn’s, there were agents of other Soviet operatives within the Kwantung Army as well. That is a fact.
Motoya Do you believe that Salnyn intentionally used a Japanese agent in order to make the operation seem Japanese?
Prokhorov Yes. An agent belonging to the Japanese military planted the explosives under orders from Salnyn.
Motoya You mentioned Nahum Eitingon, an operative who is known for leading the operation to assassinate Trotsky. Do you think that he was involved in the Huanggutun case in collaboration with Salnyn?
Prokhorov It’s possible that they were involved separately under orders from Moscow. They belonged to different organizations too. Salnyn worked for the military secret service GRU, while Eitingon belonged to the political secret service KGB. The two agencies did occasionally act together between 1924 and 1929, but we don’t know if the two men were connected.
Motoya In 1927 Zhang Zuolin ordered his troops to confine members of the Soviet diplomatic service to prevent the spread of Communism to Manchuria. Was the assassination a form of retaliation?
Prokhorov That could be one of the reasons.
Motoya Do you know of a man called Ivan Vinarov?
Prokhorov I do. He was one of Salnyn’s agents.
Motoya I have heard that Vinarov was in the adjoining car of the train at the time of the explosion that killed Zhang Zuolin.
Prokhorov This is the first time I hear that. I investigated Vinarov as well, but found no documents suggesting that he was involved in the Zhang Zuolin case. Although it’s true that Vinarov, a Bulgarian, was in China at the time of the incident.
Motoya He published an autobiography called Soldier of the Hidden War in Bulgaria. In the book he writes that he was in the adjoining car and took photographs immediately after the incident. The photographs are in the book as well. He also writes that he met Sorge in Shanghai in 1920.
Prokhorov I haven’t heard of the book or of him meeting Sorge before. Vinarov was Salnyn’s top man, so it seems doubtful he would be in the car next to a target of assassination…
Motoya There are also many theories concerning where the bomb was planted. One of the photographs shows that the ceiling of the train was destroyed, which clearly suggests the explosion happened inside the car. Yet the established theory is that the bomb was planted on a bridge pier supporting the upper track at a grade separation. Where do you think the bomb was planted? Inside the train, on the bridge pier, or perhaps on the tracks?
Prokhorov Well, I’m not an explosives expert… However, if you assume that it’s true that Vinarov was in the adjoining car, then the bomb should have been inside the train for his safety.
Motoya It is very difficult to hit a specific car of a moving train with a bomb planted on the outside. If the plan is to destroy the entire train, it could be achieved with a few tons of TNT like in the Ryongchon incident aimed at Kim Jong-il in North Korea. However, the 300 kilos of explosive used in the Huanggutun incident would not cause such a large explosion. Placing the explosives on a bridge pier would have been a strategy with a very low chance of success. If the explosives had been underneath the tracks, the train should have been derailed. Taking all that into account, I also think that it is most likely that the bomb was placed on the train.
Prokhorov It does seem like that.
Motoya It has also been said that immediately after the incident the Far East section of the British Military Intelligence Service reported to the headquarters that “it was a Soviet operation”. Apparently they investigated again after the Japanese government stated that it was the Kwantung Army, but again concluded that it was Soviet work…
Prokhorov I have no access to English documents, so I don’t know such details.
Motoya Was it considered to be a Japanese operation within the Soviet Union?
Prokhorov Yes. In the Tokyo Trials they had testimony from a Japanese executioner and a commander, which established the Kwantung Army theory. However, in the Tokyo Trials, just like in the Nuremberg trials, the Soviet Union forced several witnesses, including Japanese people, to give false testimony to protect their national interests. The testimonies of these trials are not reliable.
Motoya According to the Tokyo Trials the Zhang Zuolin assassination was ordered by Daisaku Komoto. However, Daisaku Komoto was confined in the Taiyuan camp in China at the time of the trial, but China did not send him to the trial. If he really did give the order it should have been more advantageous for China to have him give testimony in the court. In my opinion their behavior also suggests conspiracy.
* For the full article, please read the 2009 Apple Town December issue.
I invited Mr. Prokhorov to Japan, but he declined because he “absolutely couldn’t go” due to his personal situation. However, I approached him again after returning to Japan and soon received “I will come” in reply. My guess is that Mr. Prokhorov still has connections to the secret service in Russia, and couldn’t say “I will come” without having their approval. Mr. Prokhorov arrived in Japan on December 2, 2009, and although I had arranged a press conference that should have been an important event with serious repercussions on the history of Japan, the mainstream media remained silent and not one company participated. Even though it should have been covered extensively that the Huanggutun incident, the origin of the fallacious Japanese history, was “Revealed by the secret disclosure of the British (W0-06-5750) to be ‘No doubt an operation of the Soviet secret service, with Soviet-made explosives used’ as was discovered in the investigation of the British Military Intelligence Service at the time”.
First of all, there was no central government in China at the time, but several warring military factions that each governed their own region. Zhang Zuolin was a leader of one of the factions fighting against the forces of the Communist Party (Mao Zedong). Since he was a member of a pro-Japan faction, the Japanese side had absolutely no reason to murder him. Had it been apparent at the time that the assassination of Zhang Zuolin was the work of the Soviet secret service, his son Zhang Xueliang would have come under the Communist Party’s control, and the 1936 Xi’an Incident (where Zhang Xueliang arrested Kuomintang’s Chiang Kai-shek, halting the Chinese Civil War and leading to the formation of the Second United Front) would not have taken place and thus the Second United Front would not have been formed. Had that been the case, the Sino-Japanese relations would likely have been more amicable.
Another question is, who fired the first shots at the 1937 Lugou Bridge Incident? According to the propaganda pamphlets of the Communist Party of China, the incident was ordered by Liu Shaoqi. If this is true, it would mean that it was a wildly successful plot by the Communist Party to draw the Kuomintang and the Japanese army into a war.
Incidentally, the Japanese military was stationed at the Lugou Bridge under the Boxer Protocol, in other words legitimately according to international law. The unilateral invasion the media and textbooks speak of is simply untrue. Shortly after the Lugou Bridge Incident, the Comintern instructed the Communist Party’s military to have the Chinese members of the National Safety Forces to brutally massacre 223 Japanese citizens in the Tongzhou Incident (July 29, 1937) in order to push the Kuomintang and the Japanese forces towards war. The incident lead to intensified anti-China sentiments in Japan and thus became a major factor leading to the Second Sino-Japanese War. It is also said that the Tongzhou Incident was orchestrated by the Comintern in order to heighten anti-China feelings in Japan.
Immediately after that, in August, the Chinese military suddenly assaulted the Japanese Navy Land Forces and attacked the Shanghai settlement where many Japanese and other foreigners lived, beginning the Battle of Shanghai.
Later on this lead to the Japanese counter-attacking the Chinese forces, chasing the fleeing Chiang Kai-shek to Nanking and the resulting battle and fall of Nanking.
Illogical things are being taught as history. Take for example the theory of the massacre of 300,000 people in Nanking. It is known that before the fall the population of Nanking was approximately 200,000, and that one month after the fall it was 200,000, making it impossible for 300,000 people to have been slaughtered in between. If 200,000 women were forcibly moved from the Korean peninsula to work as comfort women, there should be records of objections.
But none exist. Therefore neither the Nanking massacre nor the forceful displacement of comfort women took place. Yet both China and Korea turn their backs to their own actions and repeatedly accuse Japan of these untruths.
It is absurd that the Communist Party of China, which barely fought against the Japanese forces, celebrates a “Victory over Japan Day” with military parades every year and the President Park Geun-hye of Korea participates. Korea objects over fictional theories of comfort women and forced transportations, but in the Vietnam War Koreans slaughtered civilians as well, and established brothels with Vietnamese women for their military.
China and Korea continue to make claims regarding the imaginary Nanking massacre and forced prostitution for their national benefits, which in a way is only natural for them as nations. The problem is the anti-Japan media and government controlled by Japanese nationals with anti-Japan sentiments who sympathize with China and Korea. Japan has a history of uniting and fighting against outside enemies from the Mongol invasions to the Black Ships. The territory of Japan was not divided as happened in Korea and Germany, but ways of thinking were divided by the Allied General Headquarters. Without any further delay, the modern history must be verified, the true history brought back and the masochistic view of history left behind.
On August 14 Prime Minister Abe will give a speech on the 70th war anniversary. Until now Mr. Abe has avoided using the words “invasion” and “apology”, but he will likely want to keep things calm for his party’s presidential elections in September. Furthermore, he needs the support of the pro-China Mr. Nikai and the understanding of the Komeito party, and as such it is possible that he will touch upon the “invasion” and the related “apology” in his speech even though he knows it is not true. However, if Mr. Abe continues in the footsteps of the Murayama Statement on the 50th and Mr. Koizumi’s speech on the 60th anniversary and apologizes for the invasion, I fear that with the successive statements of the prime ministers this version will become fixated as common knowledge.
It is urgent that the masochistic outlook is left behind and a review of history carried out. If this is not done, Japan’s reputation will remain stained forever. With the War Guilt Information Program (a propaganda scheme to imprint a sense of atonement regarding the war in the hearts of the Japanese people) the USA has imprinted the masochistic view of history on the Japanese through a Press Code, the Tokyo Trials etc. The reason for this is that the USA is still caught up in the atomic bombing. Although the U.S. knew full well from reading deciphered messages that Japan’s condition for peace was the preservation of the Imperial system (upholding the national polity), they completely ignored all Japanese approaches regarding the conditions in order to use the atomic bomb they had developed with funds hidden from the Congress in practice. The U.S. dropped the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, a non-white nation, immediately after successful nuclear weapons tests and without hesitation. Their goal was to reach global hegemony post-war, and to restrain the Soviet Union which U.S. support had made into a military monster. There was a possibility that after the war with Japan ended, the strengthened Soviet Union would convert all of Eurasia and the African continent to communism, and resisting that would lead to the outbreak of a third world war in which over 10 million people would perish. It is also likely that white supremacist sentiments (that the Caucasians are the superior race in opposition to the other, inferior races) were behind the decision to drop the atomic bombs in Japan, the first country in the world to propose racial equality (in 1919).
It was necessary for America not to appear to be an “evil country”, and therefore the atomic bombing had to look as if the bombs were dropped on the “evil Japan” to turn it into a democratic “good country”. That is why shortly after the war America created the Press Code to limit the freedom of speech, collected and burned undesirable books, banished 200,000 pre-war influential figures from official positions and established the War Guilt Information Program to instill the Japanese population with the idea that Japan was an evil country. For the same reason America silently accepted Chinese and Korean claims of the Nanking Massacre and forced prostitution, although they knew them to be untrue.
Japan should now release itself of this American influence. For this purpose Japan has to comprehend that while the atomic bombings were a tragedy, they made the third world war into a cold war instead of a “hot war”.
This year both the U.S. Ambassador Kennedy and the Undersecretary of State Gottemoeller participated in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony. With Japan assessing the significance of the atomic bombings, this suggests that one day the U.S. president will be attending and issuing an apology. Should that happen, it is likely that people who respect peace would come visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki first from USA and then from all around the world. While China is expanding in East Asia, America continues to withdraw and reduce its military spending by five trillion yen annually, the equivalent of the Japanese defense budget, creating a power vacuum. Peace cannot be preserved unless Japan fills this vacuum. Also for that reason the suggested constitutional change currently under debate in the parliament should be passed to allow exercising the right of collective self-defense and U.S.-Japan cooperation strengthened by changing the Security Treaty from a unilateral treaty to at least a bilateral treaty. In addition to that Japan should establish a security framework similar to the European NATO with the U.S., India, Australia, Taiwan and other pro-Japan nations to challenge the Chinese naval supremacy in the East and South China Seas. These are the kinds of ideas that I envision during the flight to India.
Proofreading finished 10:00 August 14, 2015