100,000 Pages Declassified in Search for Japanese War Crimes Records
Press Release · Friday, January 12, 2007

New IWG Volume and Records Guide on Japanese Records Now Available

College Park, MD…The Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Interagency Working Group (IWG) announces the availability of 100,000 pages of recently declassified records as a result of a search for files relevant to Japanese war crimes. In addition, the IWG presents a new reference book, Researching Japanese War Crimes Records: Introductory Essays PDF file and an electronic records finding aid that will help researchers locate and use the thousands of new and extant files in the National Archives related to the war in the Pacific.

The declassification is a result of a thorough investigation by several U.S. government agencies for classified records remaining in their files, pursuant to the requirements of the Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Disclosure Acts. The declassified records include a range of materials from the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), CIA, the State Department, Army Intelligence, FBI, and other agencies, and cover many aspects of the Pacific conflict and postwar relations between the United States and Japan. In general, however, only a small portion of these records specifically pertains to Japanese war crimes. The records are open and available at the research room of the National Archives at College Park, Maryland.

As a result of the interagency government search, the IWG learned that there were millions of pages of previously declassified or unclassified records related to Japanese war crimes already available at the National Archives. The U.S. Government has been steadily releasing records with information about Japanese war crimes since the 1950s, with the bulk of the material declassified by the 1970s. Only a small portion of these records, however, have been examined by researchers, as they are spread across various collections.

IWG Chair and Archivist of the United States, Allen Weinstein, said, “The new volume and records guide will become invaluable tools to researchers and historians of the Pacific Theater of World War II. These new resources will help scholars bring to light a fuller understanding of Japan’s wartime actions.”

Researching Japanese War Crimes Records: Introductory Essays and the finding aid are the first major resources available to researchers interested in these records. The volume provides readers with a historiographic context for both newly declassified records and for records that have been available but largely unused. Included is new information about the capture, exploitation and controversial return to Japan of Imperial Government records. The voluminous electronic finding aid, Japanese War Crimes and Related Topics: A Guide to Records at the National Archives, will help researchers identify records, providing an entryway into a vast archive of records that have been underused. Free copies of the printed book and finding aid (on CD-ROM) can be ordered by by contacting us and are available while supplies last.

In addition to the book and finding aid, the IWG is making available a database of information about select documents that have been available to researchers on high interest subjects. Select Documents on Japanese War Crimes and Japanese Biological Warfare PDF file is a selection of 1,400 documents related to Unit 731 and biological warfare experiments and attacks in World War II. It includes images of about 25 documents in the holdings of the National Archives and will be the starting point for any researcher interested in Japan’s wartime human experimentation programs.

Since 1999, the IWG has declassified and opened to the public an estimated 8 million pages of documents. The once secret records are helping to shape our understanding of the Holocaust, war crimes, and World War II and postwar activities of U.S. and Allied intelligence agencies. The IWG has issued two reports to Congress (in October 1999 and March 2002), and it issues news releases and occasional newsletters. U.S. Intelligence and the Nazis, a 15-chapter book prepared by the IWG team of historians, was published in April 2004. More information can be found on the IWG web page.

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