click map to enlarge During the early days of the war the looting network functioned as planned – treasures from all over South East Asia arrived in the Philippines daily – the loot was then transferred to freighters for the trip back to Japan. The Allies were gaining control of the Pacific, making it increasingly difficult for the Japanese to transport the stolen treasure.
Allied submarines and aircraft took a heavy toll on Japan’s shipping; some of the ships carrying loot to Japan were sunk.
Instead, they set up numerous front companies to launder the secretly recovered gold bullion. S., supposedly knew of the gold recoveries, as did General Douglas Mac Arthur, and former US presidents Herbert Hoover and Harry Truman.
This is supposed to have become the basis of the CIA’s ‘off the books’ operational funds during the immediate post-war years, used to create a world-wide anti-Communist network. Perhaps the most credible rumor of recovery involves a young, up and coming Filipino politician named Ferdinand Marcos – who became successively a congressman, senator, president, and finally dictator of the Philippine islands.
Many Yamashita researchers believe that a portion of the treasure has already been recovered by various parties in the sixty years since Yamashita’s Execution.
A great many facts have been accumulated, maps have been found, witnesses have sworn their testimonies, but the truth remains shrouded in mystery and lies. (forerunner of the CIA) watched as Japanese troops buried treasure on the island of Luzon and once the Japanese were defeated they began a clandestine recovery operation that lasted until 1948.
When the Allied forces landed on Luzon there was still much treasure remaining to be buried, so General Yamashita loaded the remaining loot on trucks and took it with him as his army retreated across the island.
Legend says that as Yamashita fled, he broke the treasure into many smaller stashes that were hidden along the line of his retreat, the bulk of the stashes are said to be concentrated in the mountainous area where Yamashita made his last stand against the invading US troops. According to popular lore, there are said to be 172 documented, official Japanese imperial burial sites (138 on land and 34 in deliberately scuttled ships), not to mention the numerous instances of loot buried by greedy officers and renegade soldiers.
But in the end all this hard work was for nothing – the Americans invaded the Philippines in October 1944.
The stolen property reportedly included gems, golden Buddhas, coins, and precious metals of immense value.
Not since the Spanish conquered the Incan Empire in 1532 had the world seen such an aggressive looting campaign.
The worth of all this booty is estimated to be as much as billion at 1940 rates – the equivalent of over 0 billion today.
According to various post-war estimates, the gold bullion alone totals 4,000 to 6,000 tons!