Tachibana case


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The sensational arrest of Japanese naval officer Itaru Tachibana—along with Toraichi Kono, famously the former valet for movie star Charlie Chaplin—for espionage in June 1941 revealed a Japanese intelligence operation in the U.S. that included some Issei informants and contributed to the compiling of custodial detention lists that were put into action after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Tachibana had come to the United States posing as a language student in 1939 and at the time of his arrest by a joint FBI/Office of Naval Intelligence raid, was working out of the Japanese consulate in Los Angeles. In part to avoid an international incident, Tachibana was released on bail and eventually deported to Japan. Without Tachibana, there was no case to be made against Kono, and he was released, though he was subsequently interned after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The widely publicized case induced great fear in the Japanese American community and no doubt fueled further anti-Japanese sentiment among other Americans.

For More Information

Ichioka, Yuji. Before Internment: Essays in Prewar Japanese American History. Ed. Gordon H. Chang and Eiichiro Azuma. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2006.

Loureiro, Pedro. "The Imperial Japanese Navy and Espionage: The Itaru Tachibana Case." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 3.1 (1989): 105–21.

---. "Japanese Espionage and American Countermeasures in Pre-Pearl Harbor California." Journal of American-East Asian Relations 3.3 (1994): 197–210.