SGM Herbert A. Friedman (Ret.) 

Note: Images from this article were used by “The Outlook Magazine,” China’s leading original creative lifestyle magazine in a May, 2014 article on Chinese conflicts entitled “Digging China,”that depicted the propaganda of conflicts and alliances among the Chinese Communist Party, the Chinese Nationalist Party, Japan and the United States. Leaflets depicted in this article also appear in the “traveling classroom” display of the Northern Mariana Islands Museum of History and Culture to teach Japanese history throughout the southern islands. In 2020, we were asked by a representative of FEMA to supply information on the location of a radio antenna that FEMA might want to preserve or repair. If a WWII era tower associated with the OWI, it would be considered a historic property because it is older than 50 years old, is associated with an important event, namely, WWII, and because it would be one of the few remaining physical structures associated with OWI’s historically significant work on Saipan.

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Cloth OWI Patch 

Most WWII veterans and historians are familiar with the Office of War Information (OWI). However, little has been written about how these psychological warfare specialists were trained and how they performed their duties in a combat situation. This article will use various OWI papers and training guides and attempt to give the reader an idea of what the OWI taught and how those lessons were used. This article is like a time capsule. It reveals what the United States Office of War Information believed about Japan in 1944 and how it used that information.

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Design and Paper

I think we should start with a description about the general wartime mission of the OWI in regard to leaflets as stated in the booklet Design and Paper. Notice the author calls the propaganda leaflets “white bombs”:

White bombs is a potent term for OWI leaflets aimed at the enemy and adroitly timed to strike at psychological moments. Sometimes millions of impressions are made of a single strategic piece to get one vital idea across. Flyers wing their way deep into enemy territory on these hazardous missions and leaflet barrages have been known to last for days. Another way of firing these propaganda fragments is to load them into shells and fire them via artillery directly into enemy lines. Where two languages are spoken in a country, bi-lingual leaflets are made up. Another form of leaflet is the safe conduct pass which tells the enemy in his own tongue: “Bring this leaflet along to the nearest American outpost and you will save your life.” Such tactics have done much to bring in prisoners and have saved countless American lives. Oftentimes before an invasion, leaflets are dropped informing people: “The Americans are coming. They are your friends.” These are Heaven-sent words of hope to oppressed peoples and induce considerable timely assistance. One of our most brilliant OWI jobs was a surrender leaflet made to simulate the kiri leaf. It capitalized cunningly on the Japanese superstition that its premature fall was an omen of bad luck. The leaflet also bore the words: “American bombs bring misfortune.”

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The Kiri Leaf

We do not show the kiri leaflet in this article because it was not printed on Saipan and used against the Japanese mainland and in Pacific battles. It was used in the Aleutian Islands. In June 1942, Japanese forces occupied the islands of Attu, Agattu, and Kiska. Attu was recaptured by the U.S. Army Seventh Infantry Division in May 1943. 60,000 of the kiri leaflets were dropped over Attu and Kiska before troops landed on Attu. Text on the front of the leaflet is:

The kiri leaf falls. Its fall is the ill omen of the inevitable downfall of militarism. With the fall of one kiri leaf come sadness and bad luck.

Text on the back of the leaflet is:

Before fall comes again the raining bombs of America, just like the kiri leave fluttering to the ground, will bring sad fate and misfortune.

The LIFE magazine of 9 July 1945 mentioned the Kiri Leaflet in an article titled “Leaflets Dropped on the Home Islands Attack Nippon's Militarist Caste.” It said in part:

Last week Japanese civilians were told that they must help defend the Japanese home islands when the Americans invade and were warned they must “not allow themselves to be taken prisoner or die dishonorable deaths.” If obeyed, the order to commit suicide rather than surrender would produce a terrifying holocaust. The Americans are trying to crack the core of this credo by deluging Japan with propaganda leaflets and broadcasts. Recognizing the fanatical devotion of the average Japanese to the emperor, the propaganda tries to drive a wedge between the civilians and the military caste, on “Gumbatsu.” Leaflets showing that the Gumbatsu is chiefly responsible for the present sad state of the Japanese nation are lessons in Japanese history. They point out how members of the Gumbatsu, like Tojo sneaked into governmental control, usurped the foreign policy and finally pushed the country and the Emperor into a stupid, bloody and hopeless war.

Along with factual leaflets, the Americans drop one shaped like a kiri leaf, which capitalizes on the peculiarly Japanese obsession with the poetry and omens of death. Every B-29 raid on Japan now drops about 750,000 pieces of propaganda. The disturbing effect on the home population is indicated by Radio Tokyo's angry bleats against "antiwar sentiment." The Japanese are urged to fight against the American leaflets with "strong nerves" and warned of severe penalties for failing to turn in the leaflets at nearest police station.

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 President Roosevelt

Elmer Davis

President Roosevelt established the United States Office of War Information by his Executive Order 9182 of 13 June 1942. The OWI was charged with conveying information to the world, and empowered to conduct propaganda to foreign nations to contribute to an Allied victory. Propaganda in areas of war were subject to the approval of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). At lower levels, the Theater commander had the power of approval. Elmer Davis, OWI’s first Director said that it was “A war agency, which owes its existence solely to the war, and was established to serve as one of the instruments by which the war will be won.”

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Admiral Nimitz

Admiral Halsey

The use of psychological warfare in the Pacific is an interesting subject and a number of books comment on it. Probably the most concise is You Can't Fight Tanks with Bayonets, Allison B. Gilmore, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, 1998. Some of her comments are: 

In the war against Japan the theater commanders again defined the form psywar operations would take and determined what agencies would be involved in its conduct.  

Admiral Chester Nimitz employed the services of OWI in the North and Central Pacific areas but did not allow the OSS to operate there. He left the decision of whether these organizations would be permitted to function in the South Pacific to Admiral William Halsey. In March 1943, Nimitz, his operations staff, and an OWI representative attended a series of meetings to discuss the creation of an OWI Pacific command team. The OWI representative later wrote, "There was evidenced a general lack of belief in the worthwhileness of OWI efforts along propaganda lines and covert doubt as to its general usefulness." Yet, he stressed, Nimitz himself was, "not unsympathetic to propaganda warfare . . . and is willing to give us a fair shake in his theater."Halsey, on the other hand, was described as interested only in, "fighting, fighting, fighting, and regards psychological warfare as some impractical plaything of effete civilians."  That impression was apparently correct, for in the end Halsey refused both OWI and OSS clearance to operate under his command. 

OWI did not establish a presence in Nimitz's command until March 1944, when it opened an overseas branch  in Honolulu and began full-scale propaganda activities.

Before World War II, intelligence activities in the United States were mostly carried out by the Department of State, the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), and the War Department's Military Intelligence Division (MID). Hoping for greater coordination of intelligence activities, as well as a more strategic approach to intelligence gathering and operations; on July 11, 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt appointed William J. Donovan to head a new civilian office attached to the White House, the Coordinator of Information (COI). The COI was charged with collecting and analyzing information which may have had bearing upon national security, correlating such information and data, and making this information available to the President, authorized departments, and authorized officials of the government.

After the start of World War II, Donovan worked with the newly created Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) to place the COI under JCS control, while preserving COI autonomy and gaining access to military support and resources. On 13 June 1942, the COI was split into the Office of War Information (OWI) and the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). The OWI would do WHITE propaganda, leaflets and radio broadcasts that were clearly defined as coming from the United States or their allies. The OSS would do BLACK propaganda, leaflets and radio broadcasts disguised as coming from inside enemy countries or from groups opposed to the enemy governments.

Both the OWI and the OSS entered the war late since it had started in 1939. The British were masters of propaganda and psychological warfare with a two-year head start, so the United States used their expertise in its own propaganda in the early days or the war.


The Foreign Information Service (FIS), a division of the Office of the Coordinator of Information, (Prior to the spilt up of the Office of War Information and the Office of Strategic Services) became the core of the Overseas Branch of the OWI. The War Report of the OSS mentions the FIS since in the early years they were involved with it.:

To penetrate enemy and occupied territory, Foreign Information Service prepared small, light devices which could be smuggled over frontiers, dropped from planes, and easily concealed. In this category were cards, stickers, folders, leaflets, pamphlets, and booklets. FIS booklets, of which more than 6,600,000 were produced during the COI period, ranged from one in Japanese commiserating with the Japanese soldier on his unhappy condition because of his lack of anything like Special Services, to "The Nazi War Against the Catholic Church," a scholarly, factual document bound in black imitation Bible leather and printed in many languages, which was published under the sponsorship and imprint of the National Catholic Welfare Conference.

Anti-Nazi Japanese pamphlets were prepared by FIS before Pearl Harbor. By 20 December, a four-page folder in Japanese was ready for dissemination. Subsequently, a Japanese translation was made of the President's last-minute appeal to Hirohito. Leaflets for the Philippines in three colors were flown out in February. Altogether, FIS printed over 28,000,000 copies of Japanese leaflets, but not all of these were distributed. The leaflets contained attacks on the emperor and emphasized the power of America and the destructive effects of bombing. They went in heavily for historical references and puns, to which the Japanese are addicted. One was called "The Falling Flowers of Yedo" (Yedo refers to old Tokyo and "Falling Flowers" to fires, hence, incendiary bombs); one side of the leaflet showed a picture of Tokyo after the great earthquake of 1923, the other showed a picture of Lubeck after the bombing raid of 28-29 March 1942. "This is what happened to a city of steel and concrete," the text ran, "What will happen to your cities of paper and wood?" 

In the European Theater, the first Foreign Information Service leaflet, containing a message from America to the French people and a picture of the Statue of Liberty, was dropped on France by the RAF in January 1942. Negotiations with the RAF had begun about a week after Pearl Harbor. By June 1942 FIS reported that the British Political Warfare Executive had prepared for them five American leaflets which had been dropped by the RAF. Other leaflets "which to all practical intents and purposes have been American" had also been dropped by the RAF and in some cases distributed through subversive channels. FIS urged that the time had come to make careful preparations for its own production of leaflets in England, and particularly for their distribution by American aircraft. As early as 14 January 1942 Donovan had written a memorandum on this latter point to the President. The President referred him to Army Air Force General Arnold who agreed in recommending that our first bombing missions in force should carry leaflets. He stated, however, that this would not become practicable until early summer. It was not until after the dissolution of COI that American leaflets were distributed over Europe by American planes.

Prior to March 1944, OWI’s Honolulu outpost was devoted to information service. After that date, it began full-scale propaganda activities against the enemy. It brought in presses for printing leaflets and news sheets.It originated and relayed radio messages from its short wave transmitters. During the course of this article we will discuss some of the leaflets that were designed in Honolulu and electronically sent to the island of Saipan where they were printed by OWI staff. Much of this information comes from An American Artist in Tokyo, Michiyo Morioka, The Blakemore Foundation, Seattle, WA.

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Bradford Smith
OWI Chief, Central Pacific Operations

Bradford Smith was the chief of the outpost. He had spent five years as a teacher at St. Paul’s University in Tokyo. Smith led an OWI staff of approximately 90 writers, technicians and specialists. Edward H. MacKay assisted Smith writing leaflets. MacKay had previously worked in Shanghai and Yokohama. Other staff members were Bessie McKim, Clarence Davies, Francis Baker and Bess Ellen Backes. The section’s military members were organized into combat propaganda teams for a given campaign.

He wrote about OWI Propaganda to Japan in the military magazine Fighting Facts, dated 5 March 1945: Some of his comments were:

Nothing succeeds like success. Nothing makes propaganda as effective as military power. Now that we have a continuous string of victories in the Pacific to point to, propaganda can be useful to save lives, American lives; to obtain valuable military intelligence; to shorten the war. Our strongest argument for surrender is, of course, the fact of our demonstrable military victories on all fronts. Also, we can exploit the mistakes of Japan's militarist leaders. A soldier who believes his leaders don't know what they're doing is likely to be a poor fighter. We can point to the thousands of Japanese troops who have been cut off from home in the Marshalls, the Philippines, and suggest that surrender is better than submitting to the starvation they have experienced or will experience.

In cooperation with the Psychological Warfare Officers of the theater, OWI devises leaflet texts and layouts for audiences both civilian and military. A staff of competent translators, artists, and persons familiar with Japanese customs and history turn out leaflets which are increasing in quantity, though still far from the numbers used in Europe, where the problem of distribution is less acute.

You may have seen American leaflets in previous campaigns. You are likely to see more in the future. The men and women who are producing them would like you to remember, first, that no single leaflet can be expected to get results, repetition is the first principle of propaganda; second, that propaganda is useful only when well-coordinated with a military plan and backed up by military success; third, that the effects of propaganda may often be long-range rather than immediate; and fourth, that the success of a well-planned propaganda campaign tied to military operations depends entirely upon the understanding and assistance of the man at the front.

It may not seem as decisive, and it certainly may not be as safe to capture a man as to kill him. But the information he has in his head may lead to the saving of many American soldiers. And a thin trickle of surrenders now is the only way to start the flood of surrenders which could be a decisive factor in ending the war.

Smith took part in a Psychological Warfare Conference in Manila 7-8 May 1945, representing OWI Honolulu. Other participants were from the Sixth, Eighth and Tenth U.S. Armies, the Seventh Fleet, and numerous organizations, both American and British. Smith talked about his unit’s accomplishments. He said that when he arrived in Honolulu he spoke with Admiral Nimitz who wanted OWI kept separate from the Psychological Warfare Branch. He had an Army Colonel named Johnson under Navy command as a Psychological Warfare Officer. Smith controlled leaflet production, but both his civilians and Colonel Johnson could write and design their own leaflets. Smith had no tactical leaflets because he had no control over when and where B-29s would drop them. At the time he just printed the leaflets and forwarded them. He mentioned building a printing plant in Saipan that very week and felt it was possible that in the future using Saipan, tactical leaflets could be designed and dropped on specific targets. He mentioned his shortwave radio propaganda in depth and admitted that he let the Office of Strategic Services broadcast a “black” program 30 minutes each week, but he did not believe that it was effective. When asked more about what the OSS was doing in Hawaii he feigned ignorance.

A B-29 Bomber taking off from the Saipan Air Strip
Army Air Force Photograph

HONOLULU Magazine published an interview with Bradford Smith in February 1947 titled “How Propaganda Leaflets Prepared in the Islands Helped End World War Two.” The article featured four OWI leaflets: 520, 2000, 2027, and 2064, all of which I depict in this article.

Smith, the former director of the U.S. Office of War Information’s Central Pacific Operations, said in part:

I was sent to Honolulu to establish a short-wave radio station and anything else in the way of propaganda which Admiral Nimitz might want. We were told to go ahead with our plan to install a standard wave station on Saipan to carry American programs to Japan. Airfields for the B-29s were already being built and it was obvious that within a few months the planes which would be dropping explosives on Japan could also be carrying our paper bullets. The best kind of propaganda was news—truthful news.

Propaganda leaflets were mentioned in the article, and it was noted that more than 100 million leaflets that were printed in Hawaii for B-29 bombers to drop on Japan. One leaflet looked like a 10-yen note on one side, with a message on the other effectively saying that “all Japanese money would soon be as worthless as this leaflet if the militarists continued their hopeless war.” The idea was that the leaflets would degrade morale and encourage the Japanese to demand their leaders surrender. Since B-29s fly at higher altitudes than other planes that had previously dropped leaflets, “the paper bullets” needed to be packaged differently so they could disperse on the way down. A method of using parachute flare bombs had already been developed in Europe. The bomb consisted of a metal case which could be filled with about 20,000 leaflets instead of the parachute flares. A time fuse in the nose kicked the case open at the desired altitude.

The article mentions that a leaflet warning of the atomic bomb was prepared in early August 1945, advising the Japanese to demand their leaders end the war before their nation was destroyed. It was dropped shortly after the first bomb. It also says that the U.S. dropped leaflets naming 11 Japanese cities, four of which they said would be bombed within the next few days, leading to rumors and confusion. [Author’s note - This is leaflet 2106. Only the first leaflet had 11 cities mentioned because Tokyo was removed. The other two leaflets in this series all had 12 leaflets mentioned].

The first propaganda campaign to coincide with a major military action took place in Okinawa. Smith adds:

As a result, civilians followed our instructions in some cases so well that virtually the entire civilian population came into our hands. He also says that the U.S. took more than 9,000 prisoners. Now at last we were ready for the final full-scale assault on the Japanese homeland itself, to see whether we could put a crack in the alleged unbreakable will of the Japanese people to resist to the end. The Japanese government tried to ignore the leaflets at first, but as they continued to shower down upon Japanese cities their influence was such that counter steps had to be taken. Yet the very taking of counter steps was an acknowledgement of the importance of the leaflets. The leaflets pointed to the lies of the militarists and capitalized on a loss of faith in Japan’s military power were among the most effective. Those advising workers to stay away from war factories and to evacuate cities also struck home, as did those capitalizing on the fear of air raids.

The final leaflet, prepared and dropped in record time, was credited by the State Department as being a decisive factor in hastening the surrender. [Author’s Note: This is probably leaflet 2117] Were we surprised that the Japanese gave up? Of course not! That had been our business all along. That’s what we expected from our paper bullets!

Smith said in an article entitled "Our Propaganda to Japan" in Fighting Facts:

OWI's Message to Enemy Troops. The objectives of propaganda directed against enemy troops are, of course, to lower their morale, exploit any dissatisfaction with officers, lack of food or equipment, encourage an attitude of defeat, and eventually persuade them to surrender. Have any such effects been achieved against Japanese troops? The answer is "Yes." Not in great numbers, but until the Philippine campaign Japanese troops had not been engaged in great numbers. Furthermore, for a long time they were winning. Propaganda has no effect on a victorious army.

Nothing succeeds like success. Nothing makes propaganda as effective as military power. Now that we have a continuous string of victories in the Pacific to point to, propaganda can be useful-to save lives, American lives; to obtain valuable military intelligence; to shorten the war. Our strongest argument for surrender is, of course, the fact of our demonstrable military victories on all fronts. Also, we can exploit the mistakes of Japan's militarist leaders. A soldier who believes his leaders don't know what they're doing is likely to be a poor fighter. We can point to the thousands of Japanese troops who have been cut off from home in the Marshalls, the Philippines, and suggest that surrender is better than submitting to the starvation they have experienced or will experience. We can show that we give good treatment to prisoners of war, and that the man who surrenders instead of sacrificing himself uselessly will be more patriotic because he will be of some use after the war.

The Office of War Information in Honolulu is working along these lines, its one objective being to contribute toward an early victory. It operates two radio stations, one on Oahu which broadcasts on short-wave frequencies, another on Saipan where a standard-wave signal is beamed to Japan. Many of the programs are relayed from San Francisco where a staff of language experts prepare programs in all the principal Oriental languages.

The Honolulu Branch is also discussed in depth in a paper entitled Combat Propaganda against the Japanese in the Central Pacific. Author William H. Vatcher says in part:

OWI Honolulu, like all OWI outposts, operated under policy directives issued from Washington and approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Department of State….All the propaganda facilities of OWI Honolulu: leaflets, radio, publications, consolidation propaganda and equipment for and personnel to operate any desired propaganda service were available to all the armed forces in the Central Pacific theater.

The OWI Leaflet Newsletter dated 1 September 1945 (final issue) adds:

The Honolulu leaflet operation got under way in April of 1944. The first month's production was 360,000; that for March of 1945 was over six million, and the total for the year’s operation was 20,512,900, At this time the Honolulu leaflet production unit was following HQs and expected soon to go into mass production on Saipan. From the first of May to the end of July the combined Saipan-Honolulu production totaled 46,256,000. Of this number, 44,066,000 were produced on Saipan. Honolulu production, for the preceding thirteen months had been 21,352,900. Almost all the leaflets produced on Saipan were earmarked for dropping.by the 21st Bomber Command over the home islands of Japan. The 21st had agreed to drop 100 tons of leaflets a month, or approximately 34,000,000.

The Overseas Branch of the OWI plans, develops, and executes all phases of radio, press, publication, and foreign dissemination of propaganda. The Overseas Branch is divided into Atlantic Operations with headquarters in New York City, and Pacific Operations, with headquarters in San Francisco. The Overseas Branch directs all of its media to four types of targets.

1. In enemy countries, its mission is to destroy morale and destroy their war effort.

2. In enemy-occupied countries, its mission is to keep alive the hope of liberation and stimulate resistance.

3. In neutral countries, its mission is to win the support of the population and convince them of Allied victory.

4. In Allied countries, its mission is to counter enemy propaganda, to raise morale, and to foster a better understanding of the United States. 

Many of the OWI philosophical concepts are found in the classified confidential booklet Psychological Warfare, Part One, December 1944. This 44-page booklet has chapters on Psychological Concepts and Technical Aspects. Other information is found in the course notes of the Far East Training Program of the Outpost Service Bureau, San Francisco, 1944. Finally, I used a number of United States Pacific Fleet and Pacific Areas Psychological Warfare booklets and supplements.  Other written materials include a 129-page official report of the OWI Saipan operation that has text, charts and pictures.

The Completed Saipan OWI Installation

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Richard S.R. Hubert

Most of this reference material is from the personal files of Richard S.R. Hubert, Chief, Forward Area, U.S. Office of War Information, Central Pacific Operations, based on Saipan, Marianna Islands.

The Leaflets in this Article are Declassified as per Radio Instructions from the Navy
at Pearl Harbor through the United States Information Service

We know quite a bit about Hubert from the files of his daughter. For instance, we know he was a Canadian who spent 20 years in Japan and China and could speak Japanese and Mandarin Chinese. We know that before Japan entered the war he built an organization to rescue French soldiers in Indochina and help them escape to North Africa where they joined the Free French under Charles de Gaulle. He also worked with British Intelligence building a small anti-Nazi and anti-Japanese underground movement in Shanghai, and later worked with the British Ministry of Information. When the Americans needed someone to command their forward OWI base in Saipan, Hubert was selected, even though as a Canadian civilian that was an amazing feat. Of course, he was superbly qualified for the job.

Early in his training he was assigned to attend a three-day training course on psychological operations in Washington DC. His orders state:

The value of this course is in direct proportion to your own alertness. Keep your eyes and ears open, be quick to ask intelligent questions on matters you want developed. This course can be a great opportunity for picking up extra knowledge and for developing important contacts. You will soon be going overseas as a representative of the United States Government; it is up to you to broaden your background in every way…   

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The Bradford Smith Appointment Letter

Some of the classes taught in this particular course were; Historical Survey of Asiatic-American Relations, Asia, Introduction to Psywar, Reproduction Training, Radio Training, and Media of Propaganda. Hubert was being groomed for a major position. This become clear in a letter from Bradford Smith, Chief of Central Pacific Operations dated 20 February 1945. It says in part:

You are hereby designated Chief, Forward Area, Central Pacific Operations…As OWI’s chief representative you will be administratively responsible for the radio station operation on Saipan…You will also be administratively responsible for the leaflet production program.

We realize that the responsibilities assigned to you are more than properly belong to one man. We are sure from your past performance, however, that you will discharge them creditably until such time as it is possible to provide you with needed assistance.

The assignment on which you are being sent is the most important one we have yet undertaken. It is given to you in full faith of your ability to carry it out successfully.

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A Richard Hubert Training Leaflet

Another booklet entitled OWI Leaflet Maneuvers dated 6 October 1944 actually has an example of one of Hubert’s early attempts at preparing a propaganda leaflet. The class was held in San Francisco without benefit of instruction or advice on leaflet technique from anyone with field experience. In other words, eight new OWI agents were tasked with producing five leaflets completely on their own. The leaflets were for use in Burma, New Guinea, the Philippines, Japan and Borneo. The students were assigned an artist named Gene Schnell, a Japanese translator named Sung Soo Whang, and a Davidson Printing Pressman who in this case was Richard Hubert.

Richard and another agent named Vic Glasband designed and wrote the third leaflet targeting the Filipinos to encourage resistance and to urge the overthrow of the Japanese on the Philippine Islands. They used a rather famous 1943 “War Production Board” Manuel Rey Isip image of a fighting Filipino already being used as a patriotic poster on the front, and added a long propaganda text on the back. The poster of course is in full color, the leaflet printed on the Davidson Press is in black and white. Some of the text in Tagalog is:


It was the dream of Rizal that one day the banner of National Sovereignty would wave over the Philippines

At the very brink of realization the dream of Rizal and the work for freedom of the Filipinos were frustrated by Japanese conquest and occupation…

People of the Philippines, soon you will have the opportunity to join hands with your old friends, General MacArthur, who respects and reveres the noble flame of freedom that burns within the hearts of all Filipinos. Together we will deal a smashing blow to the Japanese and thus assure the liberation of the Philippines.

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Office of Strategic Services Morale Operations Training Leaflets

If I might take just a momentary break in this story about the OWI; I feel that I should add here that the Office of Strategic services also had such training programs and new agents were tested on their ability to produce meaningful leaflets that used specific themes for propaganda. Prospective OSS Morale Operation agents were given a project of a 100-day hypothetical military operation. They were given intelligence for an invasion of Japan and a review of combat operations. This exercise took place after the alleged capture of the cities of Shiogama, Matasushima and Sendai. The three communities would be governed by one administration. The agents also received a set of problems encountered by the occupying military government and were asked to solve them. Above, we see a set of the training leaflets produced by this group of candidates.

Back to the OWI story. The official report on the OWI Saipan operation is found in Richard S. R. Hubert’s “The OWI Saipan Operation,” Official Report to US Information Service, Washington, 1946.It explains some of the background on how the Navy and the civilian propaganda organization came together:

As a result of conversations with Elmer Davis and Secretary of the Navy Forrestal, Admiral Towers wrote a memo in December, 1944, to Admiral Nimitz recommending that the O.W.I. should participate in the production of leaflets from facilities to be provided by O.W.I., and that such a program be instituted in the Pacific Ocean Area. Origination of copy for leaflets was to take place in Honolulu where JICPOA AND O.W.I. facilities were available.

“JICPOA” is the Joint Intelligence Center, Pacific Ocean Area. It consisted of Analysts, cryptologists, and 50 U. S. Army Nisei Military Intelligence Service linguists who helped to translate Japanese documents and sometimes did front-line duty manning PSYOP loudspeakers.

Either by air or radiophoto, finished copy was to be sent forward for production. Decision having been made to establish a leaflet production on Saipan, two Webendorfer high speed presses, specially constructed for this purpose, together with accessory equipment were forwarded to Honolulu to await permission to ship to Saipan. This unit together with personnel was set up for a production on the basis of about nine million leaflets per month. In the event it should have become desirable to originate a leaflet in the forward area, to fit an emergency need, the JICPOA and O.W.I. representatives were to confer in order to make sure that no standing policies were violated.

The assembling of further staff for the Forward Area began with the arrival at Honolulu, in early December 1944, of the Chief, Forward Area, who was to proceed to Saipan as soon as arrangements could be completed for theatre clearance.

The following letter from Admiral Nimitz's Chief of Staff authorized the establishment of a Psychological Warfare Office on Saipan:



          Serial: 05236                                                                                                              Feb. 21, 1945                                       Confidential                                                               

From:    Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet and Pacific Ocean Areas.

To:        Island Commander, SAIPAN

Via:        Commander, Forward Area, Central Pacific

Subject:    Advanced section, Psychological Warfare Office, Establishment of.

1. It is desired to establish an advanced section of the Psychological Warfare Office, CINCPAC-CINCPOA, on SAIPAN, and attach its personnel to the Island Command, Saipan, for administrative purposes.

2. This section will be operationally under the supervision and direction of the Psychological Warfare Office, CINCPAC-CINCPOA.

3. The Island Commander, Saipan, is requested to provide the necessary office, working space, and additional facilities which may be required for the operation of the section.

4. The Officer-in-Charge of the Advanced Section, Lieutenant. R. J. Morris, USNR, will act as liaison officer with and will be cognizant of all matters pertaining to the Office of War Information activities and personnel in the Forward Area.

    C. H. McMorris
Chief of Staff

This arrangement remained effective, insofar as the liaison angle was concerned, until August 13, 1945. On which date, apparently because of a dispatch sent by the Commanding General, U.S. Strategical Air Force (General Spaatz) direct to the O.W.I., without going through O.W.I. Liaison, temporarily, at least, responsibility and authorization for psychological warfare was relinquished by the P. W. Officer and became vested in USASTAF and O.W.I.

Simultaneously, the Advance Psychological Warfare Section of CINCPAC was directed by its staff officer to assist USASTAF in every way in the current psychological warfare campaign. Accordingly, all its facilities were made available both to USASTAF and the O.W.I. as of the 13th of August, 1945.  This arrangement was confirmed by the Psychological Warfare Officer in his letter dated August 16, 1945.  Nothing further having been heard in this connection, as of August 13, 1945, O.W.I operated in the Forward Area without liaison.


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 General Spaatz

General LeMay

The United States Army Strategic Air Force Pacific (USASTAF) was authorized on 18 July 1945 under General Spaatz on Guam. Spaatz commanded all B-29 bombers in the Pacific. General Curtis LeMay of Strategic Air Command fame soon became his Chief of Staff. We might assume that Washington believed that Spaatz would take the war directly to the Japanese homeland and thus moved the OWI PSYOP liaison from the Navy to the Army Air Force.

The following is a synopsis of the OWI’s beliefs and techniques and is not that of the author. The information is important because with all the modern methods and machinery of psychological operations today, the psywarrior should know the history of his specialty, and be able to determine if any valuable knowledge has been lost since the dark days of WWII.

The OWI believed that the average Japanese soldier had certain characteristics that could be used against him. For instance, it believed that the Japanese had a desire to conform to the group rather than to seek individuality. This made it almost impossible for a Japanese soldier to surrender because he would be stepping outside the bounds of common ideology. The Japanese who fails can atone for his failure through seppuku (ritual suicide). The Banzai charge (where a mass of armed and unarmed Japanese soldiers attack a strong defensive position) therefore is form of seppuku.

The Japanese are preoccupied with fate. He has extremes in emotion. He will cheer when he is told to,  and truly believe the statements of his superiors. When he realizes that he has been lied to he will sink into a deep despair. However, even with a low spirit he will continue to fight because he believes that it is his fate. Even in death, he must act properly and must not disgrace his heritage or his ancestors.

Hubert’s personal papers tell us a little bit more about his operation. He mentions a report written as a guide for the psychological war against Japan:

This report was written by a team of ten anthropologists on the professional level of Margaret Mead, who were actually hired by the OWI to make communication with Japanese civilians deeply professional. OWI leaflets dropped by the millions in B-29 runs over Japanese cities, and the OWI radio broadcasts from Saipan, spoke to Japan of the starvation of its own people, the collapse of Japan’s economy, and of Japan’s military appropriation of civilian governing power. The professional influence of the anthropologists is evident in the changes made to OWI propaganda training manuals as to the text and artwork. They told the Japanese soldiers: “Your officers tell you to end your life rather than surrender. Now you know you are of no further use to the Emperor or your military leaders. Therefore your loyalty is to your family and your obligation is to surrender so you can return to your family and help rebuild the nation.”

Although the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was banned from the area by both the Army and the Navy, it is interesting to see that their Morale Operations (MO) Section had the same beliefs about the Japanese people. The OSS paper entitled “Overall Plan for the pacific area, 1944” says in part:

The Japanese soldier is an MO target wherever he is located. So is the Japanese civilian located in Japan proper. Japanese agents, puppets and the collaborationists on the China coast, in Formosa and the Philippines can also profitably be made the target for subversive activities based on the Pacific theatres. The peoples located in territories occupied by the Japanese can also be stimulated into resistance against the Japanese and are therefore an MO target. ... Psychologically the Japanese people are susceptible to subversive operations. Even the Japanese soldier is subject to effective psychological attack whenever he believes his situation is hopeless. These weaknesses in the psychology of the Japanese should be exploited by subversive operations. Currently there are the following basic vulnerable points in the Japanese psychological make-up: dissention between the branches of the armed forces; political differences, especially concerning the conduct of the war; anxiety over Russia joining the Allies in the Pacific war; fear of Chinese and Russian communism spreading to the Japanese mainland; failure of the greater East Asia co-prosperity sphere to secure complete native cooperation; fear of hostility of the natives of the occupied territory; dissension between Japanese troops of rural and urban backgrounds; class distinctions on the home front and in the armed forces; anxiety among the leaders over the effect of the military defeat of Germany; fear of disease; fear of an air blitz against Japan's principal cities. The hostility toward Japan of certain groups of the native populations in Formosa and the Philippines provides a good target for anti-Japanese rumors and for developing cooperation with the American forces by the use of various subversive methods. These activities could be so directed that they would harass the Japanese and their puppets and would reduce the flow of aid to Japanese troops.

The OSS, of course, dealt with black operations, sabotage and spying. Military leaders in the Pacific were suspicious of them and felt that they were uncontrollable. The OWI, being more civilian in nature, was less liable to go off “half cocked” and embarrass the theater commanders.

How does one motivate the Japanese soldier to surrender? Use his emotions against him. Use psychological operations to lower his spirit and bring him to utter despair, then work on his instinct for self-preservation. Convince him that he has been misled, that the war was wrong, that he cannot win, and that it is worth living to rebuild the new Japan.

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General Nogi Training Leaflet

We seldom get to see the training leaflets that the new PSYOP agents prepared as part of their curriculum. The above leaflet was designed and printed by the outpost training class in San Francisco in 1944 as they prepared for deployment to the Pacific. The purpose of the project was to gain experience in studying military conditions for which leaflets would conceivably be used in the field, and to practice writing and producing leaflets that would deal with hypothetical situations set up by the class.

The student team was made up of an artist, a military liaison, writers, a Japanese translator, a Davidson pressman, an advisor-critic and an elected chief of project. The leaflet above was designed to be used against isolated Japanese troops on New Guinea.

The front of the leaflet depicts General Nogi and a poem:

The tree, the root and the branches all decaying;

What fragrance the camphor tree still sheds.

The back of the leaflet is all text:

As you all know, General Nogi led his troops to glorious victory at Port Arthur. His men had superior weapons. They had ample supplies. Their communications were excellent. This was largely due to the sagacity of general Nogi. Yet General Nogi offered to commit seppuku when accused of wasting men. He refrained only when the Meiji Tenno forbade the act.

Compare your situation with the situation at Port Arthur. The Japanese soldiers there were on the offensive, but you – are you not on the defensive? Are not your weapons inferior? Are not your supplies dwindling? Have not your communications been destroyed? Have you not seen your comrades die uselessly?

The Japanese soldiers at Port Arthur died to achieve victory. Yet general Nogi, even in this hour of greatest victory, wept and sought self-effacement. Is it in keeping with the wise decision of general Nogi for officers to continually and blindly subject warriors of Japan to needless slaughter under impossible conditions?

Perhaps the single most interesting thing About General Nogi is that after losing two sons in the Russo-Japanese War, he seems to have felt great guilt at surviving them. In 1912 the Japanese Emperor died. On 13 September 1912 as the body of the Emperor passed his home, both the general and his wife committed hara-kiri, their spirits joining the Emperor’s spirit in service throughout eternity. Nogi is considered a saint in many Japanese households, his home and grave considered a shrine.

I have not found an OWI leaflet mentioning General Nogi, but it was used by General MacArthur’s Army psywar unit Australia. An all-text leaflet targeted Japanese troops in the Philippines but was also suitable for Japanese troops and civilians anywhere. The text of the leaflet coded 20-J-1 is:

What is the conduct of your present military leaders?" Gen. Nogi wished to commit suicide for needlessly sacrificing a large number of men yet Gen. Yamashita took no blame for the glaring blunder committed on Leyte Island, trying instead to shift the blame onto others. "It would seem that the difference between the splendid spirit of Gen. Nogi, and the base attitude of the military leaders to today, represented by Yamashita is like that difference between clouds and mud."

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Leaflet 120

It is interesting to note that a very similar leaflet was prepared by the OWI for use in the field. Black and white leaflet 120 depicts another hero of the Russo-Japanese War, Admiral Togo. The purpose of the leaflet is to weaken the Japanese will to fight to the death.  Text on the front of the leaflet is:

It is the duty of young people whose future is bright to take care of themselves and live to serve the nation.

The back is all text:

Wherever the American forces have advanced, the Japan has not been a match for them. The Americans already control all the South pacific, the Philippines, and Iwo Jima

In such a situation, what should you do? Is it not better to live for the future of Japan than to resist and throw away your young lives foolishly?

Fleet Admiral Togo once said, “You are young and your future is bright. Therefore, it is your duty to take care of yourselves and to live to serve your country.”

Cease useless resistance. For what and for whose benefit are you fighting? Is not the outcome already certain?

Former Premier Koiso said that the productive capacity of Japan was one-fourth of the United States. Your leaders have been telling you that you cannot win a war of production.

Moreover, now, the Soviets have denounced the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Act. Those who desire peace, those who wish to carry out the injunction of Fleet Admiral Togo, cease resistance when the American army lands and come over.

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The OWI has a Sense of Humor
The above cartoon was published in the OWI Restricted Magazine Outpost News

General Propaganda

Robert J. Bunker wrote about Japanese Psychological Warfare in World War II in the Pacific: An Encyclopedia. New York: Garland Publishing, 2001. He mentioned American Psychological Warfare briefly:

Psychological warfare, as defined by the U.S. joint chiefs of staff during World War II, consisted of the integrated use of all means, moral and physical, that would tend to destroy the will of the enemy and to damage his political and economic capacity; that also would tend to deprive the enemy of the support, assistance, or sympathy of his allies or associates or neutrals; or that would tend to maintain, increase, or acquire the support, assistance, and sympathy of neutrals.

By 1944 the broader generic term “psychological warfare,” and the older and more specific terms “combat propaganda” and “propaganda,” had become virtually interchangeable.

When properly applied, psychological warfare supposedly could bolster morale in one’s own forces while so undermining an enemy s fighting spirit that collapse could occur within the first hours of hostilities. Psychological warfare could undermine the enemy’s morale and destroy its will to resist, both on the main line of resistance and on the home front. It could destroy alliances, cause civil disorder, divide officers from the enlisted ranks and citizens from their leaders, and create chaos in the enemy’s homeland. Psychological warfare required less in terms of personnel than did traditional armed forces, it could enhance the effectiveness of conventional weapons, and it could provide the final push to an already demoralized enemy. In short, its adherents claimed, psychological warfare could shorten wars, save both money and lives, and decrease the overall level of violence.

The weapons of psychological warfare were those of the civilian media in film, print, or audio form. During World War II, the armed forces relied primarily on printed leaflets, newspapers, or newssheets. More than eight billion leaflets were dropped by aircraft or delivered by artillery shells worldwide by the Allied powers, the vast majority in Europe. In addition, the Allies used motion pictures and still photographs, and broadcast medium and shortwave radio programs to the home fronts of their enemies. On the tactical level, U.S. military personnel conducted frontline radio propaganda programs and used loudspeakers and megaphones. Nearly every campaign in the Pacific and Asian theaters during World War II witnessed the use of some form of psychological warfare waged by either a civilian or a military agency.

The OWI defined general propaganda as propaganda not aimed at specific targets like areas to be assaulted or by-passed islands. It is similar to what we call strategic propaganda today. These leaflets are dropped on the Japanese wherever they are as they go about their daily business. This type of propaganda includes newspapers, broadcasts, and leaflets to Japan, occupied China, Korea or Taiwan. The idea was to continually let the enemy see the propaganda so it would start to wear him down like the constant dripping of water on a rock. Reading the same Allied propaganda over and over would eventually lead to independent thought on the part of the finder. “Repetition connotes truth” says the OWI, so the more leaflets dropped the better chance that they will be accepted as truthful.

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Psychological Warfare – CINCPAC – CINCPOA

A good deal of the information and almost all of the leaflets in this article are from a series of naval booklets entitled Psychological Warfare and their various parts and supplements. Many of the OWI propaganda leaflets are pictured and translated in the various booklets.

OWI Identification Cards

I cannot show the reader the ID card of any of the officers mentioned in this article. However, I can show one from Brooklyn NY native Ely Bergmann who volunteered for service in WWII and served as a Psychological Warfare agent for the Office of War Information sending coded messages to the Resistance in Occupied Europe via a secret radio station in the Gaumont Theater in London’s Soho District. Bergmann was also issued a brown War Department ID and a brown Navy Department ID like the one above.


Part One of the August 1944 United States Pacific Fleet and Pacific Ocean Areas publication Psychological Warfare breaks down the code numbers of the leaflets into categories and explains their themes. I have greatly edited the explanatory paragraphs. I also added some examples of the Leaflet titles in each category to show the reader the general concept of the U.S. propaganda.

a. 100-399. Leaflets bearing these numbers have been prepared for the period of bombardment of an entire tactical area, preliminary to any further action to be taken in that area. A 1945 document titled P.O.A. Advance in 1944 published by the United States Army Forces Pacific Ocean Areas (USAFPOA) gives a much shorter explanation: Aerial Bombardment.

            100. Where is your navy?
            109. Victory in the air?
            116. Open your eyes.

b. 400-499. Leaflets bearing these numbers are designed for that period of intensive bombardment, usually by surface ships, just prior to the invasion. USAFPOA adds: Naval Bombardment.

           405. To the Japanese soldier.
           410. I raise my two hands to live for my country.
           413. Civilians!

c. 500-699. Leaflets bearing these numbers are designed for that phase when the actual landings are made, and the main engagement begins. USAFPOA adds: Assault Landing.

501. To Japanese officers!
503. You can't fight tanks with bayonets!
512. Full strength instead of 10%.

d. 700-799. Leaflets bearing these numbers should be used when the enemy realizes that our forces will be successful in their attacks. USAFPOA adds: Hopeless enemy position.

700. Die for the military caste or live for your home and country.
701. If you commit seppuku.
705. Think it over carefully.

e. 800-999. Leaflets bearing these numbers should be used when resistance has been broken and only mopping-up remains. USAFPOA adds: Mopping-up.

808. Are you so determined to die that you won't listen to reason?
809. What are you fighting for?
810. Life-saving guarantee.

The pamphlets for by-passed garrisons are numbered serially from 1000-1099.  USAFPOA adds: By-passed garrisons.

1001. Do you intend to continue to live like a beast in the jungle?
1006. Your island has been isolated and cut off from all aid and supplies.
1009. Instructions for negotiations.

USAFPOA adds that strategic or longer-term propaganda leaflets fall into a geographic or racial subdivision. Leaflets so used could be listed as follows

Japan 2000 -2999
China 3000 - 3999
Korea 4000-4999

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The OWI Saipan Print Shop Operating
Around the Clock, Saipan, August 1945.

A word or two about the printing facilities in general. The printing team originally consisted of four pressmen, one photographer and one printing production chief. Later, six Navy pressmen from Honolulu joined the team. An attempt was made to run the presses around the clock, but the heat and humidity in the print shop without air-conditioning made this impossible. Japanese prisoners of war joined the group. At first four were trained, later as many as thirty POWs helped with the printing, rolling of the leaflets, and general work. The leaflets were usually rolled into leaflet bombs, but sometimes when rushed the men just stacked them inside the casings. Besides leaflets, Saipan also printed a newspaper entitled Mariana News. The installation of Radiophoto equipment allowed transmission from Honolulu to Saipan and the preparation of Japanese language leaflets and newspaper much more quickly and efficiently. By 1 June 1945, leaflet text and artwork was being regularly transmitted to Saipan. The technicians and printers only needed to clean and “touch up” the copy.

We know something about the OWI operation in Honolulu from An American Artist in Tokyo. The book is a biography of Frances Blakemore (1906-1997). She was a painter and print maker who travelled to Japan in 1935 to teach art and English. Sensing the coming war, she escaped to Honolulu in 1940 and avoided Japanese internment. Her first government job was in the Office of Censorship, but in June 1944, she was transferred to the Office of War Information.

Although it was already late in the war, the OWI in Honolulu played a key role in American propaganda against Japan. It broadcast to the Japanese mainland through a shortwave transmitter on Oahu and later through a long-range station in Saipan. The Honolulu branch prepared war leaflets which were printed on Saipan. Morioka adds:

A million leaflets a day were printed and dropped, as were one million copies a week of the Japanese-language newspaper the Marianas Jiho (Marianas News Review). For its propaganda campaign, the OWI office in Honolulu enlisted Americans who had grown up or lived in Japan, Japanese Americans and some Japanese prisoners-of-war…

Frances was hired as an artist to illustrate war leaflets. With her graphic talent and first-hand knowledge of Japanese customs, she made an ideal artist for the task…Frances was responsible not only for creating eye-catching illustrations, but also for accurately depicting scenes from Japanese life…

Intended to appeal both to emotion and intellect, the veracity of the image and message was paramount to a successful propaganda leaflet. Thus, the finished product was shown to at least ten prisoners of war for “Comments concerning artwork, style, and treatment of theme.” 

Frances Blakemore is thought to have designed about 50 OWI leaflets. In some cases where we depict one of her leaflets we will add a comment from author Morioka.

The leaflets of Francis Blakemore were depicted in a Stars and Stripes article titled, “Leaflets Battle Japs” during the war. The clipping is undated. The story explains:

We are fighting the war with more than B-29s, flame-throwers and harbor mines. We are attacking with propaganda – based not on lies, Nazi-fashion, but on facts which, once driven home to the Jap soldier and civilian, may shorten the war and save lives.

A Honolulu newspaper depicting OWI Leaflets

A Honolulu newspaper article dated 17 March 1945 depicted two OWI leaflets designed by Frances Blakemore. The first used an image of a bomb, the second warned the Japanese of places to stary far away from. Some of the article text (edited for brevity) is:

“Thought Bombs” Showered on Japan Prepared Here

“Thought bombs,” or information leaflets zoomed earthward along with incendiary bombs dropped on four great Japanese cities this past week by fleets of 300 super fortresses. The two pictures pictured here were prepared in the Honolulu branch of the Office of War

Information and were used in the raid on Osaka. They may have been used in the Kobe raid too…

The clipping depicts two leaflets. The first is 2013, in the form of a shiny black bomb with a blood red background.

OWI Leaflet 2013

America threatened Japan with leaflet depictions of bombs on more than one occasion. Office of War Information leaflet 2013 is very impressive from a visual standpoint. It shows a highly detailed and polished vertical black bomb on a red background. There is no text on the front. Curiously, the same exact image is found on leaflet 2014. I will translate both leaflets.

The back of 2013 depicts a vertical silhouette of the bomb with black text on a white background. The purpose of the leaflet is to encourage Japanese civilians to cease resistance. The text is:

These bombings will continue until your militarist leaders give up. You know we have the strength to continue until your beautiful land is laid to ruins. The militarists are continuing the war because they are afraid of punishment. You are the ones who suffer. The whole nation suffers to satisfy a few selfish men. Force your leaders to bring an end to a hopeless war. That is the best prevention against bombing.

Like leaflet 2013, on leaflet 2014 the back depicts a vertical silhouette of the bomb with black text on a white background. The purpose of the leaflet is to tell the Japanese that America did not want to kill civilians, just destroy Japan's military strength. The text is:

This leaflet could have been a bomb.

This is to warn you away from military installations, factories, railways, and harbors where our bombs will strike again and again until the Gumbatsu quits this hopeless war.

Stay away from military objectives!

The Gumbatsu is that mix of the military and big business that President Eisenhower would call the “Military-Industrialist Complex” years later.

This leaflet was designed in Honolulu by American artist Frances Blakemore. Her story is told in An American Artist in Tokyo, Michiyo Morioka, the Blakemore Foundation, Seattle, WA. Morioka describes the image in artistic terms and says:

Frances created a portrait of a menacing black bomb. She rendered its three dimensionality, cool tactile surface, and compact geometric shape through a precise hatching technique and fine lines. Set against a red background, the bomb’s perfect appearance emphasizes its inhuman effectiveness as a modern weapon of mass destruction.

The second leaflet is coded 2011 And warms the Japanese to stay out of four areas which could be bombed at any time.

OWI Leaflet 2011

This leaflet warns the Japanese to stay away from certain areas to save their lives. A secondary motive is to disrupt production because the workers may stay away from their jobs. There are four images of places, each with an arrow saying “Danger” on the front. The places are factories, railroads, ports, and military bases or defensive strong points.

The text on the back is:

Stay away from such places as factories, military establishment, power plants, railroads, and depots. To harm the people is not America’s objective. However, to render the military clique powerless, all military objectives must be destroyed.

As much as possible, only military establishments will be destroyed. However, some people of the area could be injured. Keep in mind that the Gumbatsu started this war. What the Gumbatsu started, America will finish. To emphasize again, stay away from military establishments.

Morioka says:

Dealing with the same theme in leaflet 2011, Frances took a more matter-of-fact approach, as if illustrating an instruction manual…Japanese civilians would have immediately recognized these simple illustrations; like a neon sign, oversized red arrows on each target shout the characters for “Danger.”

This ends the section showing leaflets in the newspaper article.

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OWI leaflet 507

OWI leaflet 507 is a tactical assault leaflet. It is designed to expedite the surrender of Japanese soldiers during the early stages of an assault. The leaflet depicts and American officer talking to two Japanese soldiers. The body language is friendly and the dialogue is intended to make American promises more credible. Text on the back is:

An American officer who speaks Japanese well was talking with two Japanese soldiers who came over to the American forces on Guam. The two soldiers expressed their thanks for the excellent treatment they had received.

"Didn't you know that American troops treat Japanese well?' the officer asked.

The two soldiers shook their heads. "No," they replied. "We were afraid to come over to you. We thought you would kill us. We only came when there was no more hope."

Don't wait until our fierce artillery fire and bombs crush you beyond all hope of recovery. Resistance is futile; come now. You will receive good food, water, and medical treatment. A hot bath and clean bed await you. Don't throw away your life in vain!

Leaflet 510

I had no intention of adding this leaflet because all the leaflet showing happy Japanese surrendering to friendly Americans are redundant. But somebody asked about this leaflet, and I had to scan it for him so I might as well add it to the article. Understand there are many more like it. The front shows a Japanese POW with some American troops, and a second picture depicts three Japanese POWs. All have their faces blocked so we know there were early when we thought we had to cover their faces to protect them. Later the faces were depicted so there could be no claim that they were not Japanese. The text on the front is:

As you see, Americans accord the Japanese generous treatment.

The text on the back is:

You have heard lies about American cruelty, but you probably haven’t heard about the fine treatment accorded your soldiers who came over to us in the Marshalls and Marianas. You probably haven’t heard that we gave them food, water, clothing and medical treatment. Your officers don’t want you to know such things.

Don’t throw away your lives foolishly. You cannot accomplish anything by useless death. Come over to us and be reborn. Our quarrel is not with your people; our quarrel is only with the selfish military caste who are willing to destroy Japan to advance their own personal ambitions.

When peace comes soon, there will be work for you to do. Japan will need you. Your death here can only be Japan’s loss. Don’t throw away your lives in vain.

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Leaflet 706

This leaflet is designed to induce Japanese soldiers to surrender. The OWI believed that they had a dedication to the nation greater than their dedication to live. The text, therefore, tells them that is they die the nation will cease to exist. The leaflet depicts a factory and a farm on the front and the Diet building in Tokyo on the back. The text is:


Is it the land?

Is it the government?

Is it industry?

Yes, a nation is all these things. But a nation is nothing without people. Without young men to breed children, a nation will soon disappear. You have fought well, but the odds are hopeless. Like others before you, the correct thing in such a case is to enter the American gate so that by living you may help…

Save the Nation

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John L. Burns Jr., OWI Printing Production Chief, sits in front of an enlarged photo of Propaganda Leaflet 706.

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Leaflet 803

We depict a third surrender leaflet above. The text is a sentimental appeal to Japanese troops not to throw away their lives in vain, but to come over to American troops, who will treat them well. The front depicts contented and smiling Prisoners of war. At this stage of the war, the Americans covered some of the face of the prisoners to protect their families back home. Later, the whole face was depicted. The text on the back is:

While you continue your futile resistance against our overwhelming might, your wives and children and aged parents at home live in eternal fear for your lives. Does it mean nothing to you that if they knew your terrible plight they would beg you not to throw away your lives in vain—not to waste away and rot on this miserable island?

You were once normal and healthy; now you are tortured by malaria, hunger, and thirst, and are only skin and bones. No loving hands are here to care for you. No kind, gentle voice soothes you and comforts you. For you there is nothing but the life of a beast. Is it not utter waste to die in such a manner?

Come over to us and let us feed you and give you water. Let our doctors and nurses cure your fever and illness. You can accomplish nothing by your resistance. Don't die like a beast in the jungle.

In this article you will see many leaflets talking about the Japanese generals, the rich industrialists, and of course many pictures of Japanese prisoners-of war. Surprisingly, after many interviews with Japanese POWs the Australians came to suspect that all this propaganda was not helping the war effort and could be hurting it. Here is one Japanese prisoner talking about leaflets in general, quoted in the Australian Intelligence Review:

The POW believes that propaganda leaflets could have a good deal of effect if properly used and in sufficient quantity. He said that there were far too few leaflets on SAIPAN, that most of the troops had never seen any of them. The POW stated that it was extremely unlikely that any troops would surrender in the company of fellow soldiers but that it was probable that only men cut off from their units could be induced to give up, even by the most skillful leaflets. He thought that any believable propaganda would work but that it must be couched in immediate terms and not in the terms of general statements about wicked warlords. Leaflets which stated that the Japanese position was helpless, that the Japanese Navy would not help the troops, and material of a similar nature would be believed and would be effective under the conditions stated above. Leaflets attacking overall Japanese strategy, the military clique or the like would not be understood by most of the troops and would probably produce no results. The POW was most emphatic in stating that pictures of POWs held by Americans would have a bad, even contrary effect, causing those who saw them to determine never to become prisoners themselves.

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Leaflet 2073

This Frances Blakemore OWI leaflet depicts five Japanese females of differing age from a baby held by her mother to a grandmother. Some of the text is:

Are you going to allow Japan to become a country of only old people, women and children?

Have you ever thought about what might happen to Japan if you continue to fight until all the soldiers die on the battlefield and every Japanese city is burnt down to the ground in air raids? If you keep fighting until the end, Japan will lose young men who should comprise the nucleus of the country and become a country fill of women, children and old people…

Morioka says about the image:

Striking in bright pink and white, the figures’ portrait-like quality instantly captivates the viewer, and the image would have inspired a deep sense of nostalgia in the soldier displaced from home, reminding him of his mother, grandmother, or wife.

Artist Frances Blakemore Makes Preliminary Sketches of Leaflet 2073

After discussion of a proposed text, the artist begins work on an illustration designed to convey the idea of the leaflet at a glance.

Assault Propaganda

Assault propaganda is closer to what we call tactical propaganda today. Its purpose was to lower morale of the enemy, decrease his resistance, create disunity and dissension, and to gain support for Allied causes. It was used for specific targets and the message was sometimes very specific in nature. 

Propaganda for By-passed Garrisons

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Bypassed Garrison Leaflet 1044

During WWII it was the policy of the Navy to bypass well defended islands of no strategic value and let the Japanese defenders “rot on the vine.” The Navy dropped OWI leaflet 1044 along with rubber boats on Wake Island to implement the surender of the trapped troops. Every troop that used the boat to go over to the Americans was one less armed defender on the island. One side of the leaflet has detailed instructions on the use of the rubber boat accompanied by simply explanatory sketches:

1. First, orally inflate the boat using the rubber tube. Attach the rubber tube to the valve on the inside of the boat, turn the valve to the left, and orally inflate slowly. When the boat is completely inflated, turn the valve to the right and leave it in that position. You will then have a fine boat! It takes a healthy person about 15 minutes to inflate the boat orally.

2. When the boat is finished, set out! What about the waves and the wind conditions? Take off your clothes and make a sail out of them.

3. Put your hands through the straps on the two rubber oars and row with them. They will also act as a rudder. The small rubber cup is very handy for bailing out the bilge.

4. When the waves are rough, you can steady the boat by taking hold of the handles on the top. Work them skillfully so that the boat will not turn over. Even though there is a heavy swell, keep courage and go on, humming the song “UMI NO TAMI NARA OTOKO NARA.” You can be sure that the boat will not sink.

5. Directly ahead, you can see lights. That is the rescue ship. If you keep on course until you reach the ship, all will be well.

Note: The American translation may not be exactly right. According to a Japanese source, this is an old traditional Japanese fisherman's song and should have been written UMI NO TAMENARA OTOKO NARA. It does not translate to English well, but means something like, "A brave man will not be afraid of fishing in rough seas."

A second source, a Japanese TV-producer with interest in naval history said that the title was “The Pacific March” and that the lyrics were written in a contest sponsored by a Japanese newspaper with support by the Imperial Navy in 1939. This propaganda song was a success thanks to a good tune.

We are real sea men, even real males
Once we all desired the Black Japan Current of the Pacific
Now the time has come to go their together bravely
Our blood will be burning with great joy.

Regardless of who is correct, it is clear that the OWI had a good understanding of Japanese music and culture and chose a tune that challenged the men to bravely take to the rough seas on the tiny raft.

The other side depicts photographs of rescued Japanese soldiers with explanatory captions.

a. Life line lowered from American ship.

b. Step by step, up the ladder to hope.

c. Having washed away the mud of battle, they breathe a sigh of relief.

Leaflet 1015

This leaflet seems to fit very well with the one directly above. That one shows a boat the Japanese can use; this leaflet depicts a Japanese soldier using one. This is a large leaflet, 9.5 x 7.5-inches. The back is all text:

Attention all Officers and Men!

You have been given opportunities to come to an honorable understanding with U.S. forces but have failed to do so. We feel that there are some of you who despite group opposition will desire to live and be reborn in the new world after the war. Those who wish to live may put to sea in small boats, rafts, and canoes and still be picked up tomorrow by an American vessel when they are beyond artillery range. Your safety and and kind treatment are guaranteed. You will be taken to a safe place where you can work until the war is over.

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Leaflet 521

We talk about those Japanese left on islands and mention leaflets in Japanese, Chinese and Korean in this article. There are several ways to write Japanese and this leaflet is very special because it is written in the simpler Katakana. The word “katakana” means “fragmentary kana,” as the katakana characters are derived from components or fragments of more complex kanji. Katakana is characterized by short, straight strokes and sharp corners. Katakana is also used to write Ainu, a language spoken on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. The text was meant to allay the fears of natives under attack by American forces. The text is:


Although American troops, supported by powerful ships and innumerable lanes, have landed on these shores, they have no wish to harm natives. America is fighting Japanese troops, not natives.

You can avoid injury or death if you stay away from the battle areas, Japanese installations and factories. Later, when the battle subsides, we will give you food, water, tobacco and medical treatment. Americans are kind and will treat you well.If you carry out these instructions, you will be safe and happy.

Note: This was printed by the American forces for the non-Japanese natives of Saipan to inform them that the American had not come to the island to harm them, but to free them from Japanese rule. Wherever the Japanese went as colonists they brought with them schools, government administration, roads, water projects. Police, etc. They also sought to educate the locals. One aspect of the education was reading, writing and speaking Japanese.

There are four writing systems (alphabets) used by the Japanese. The first 3 will appear in just about every written document: Kanji; Hiragana; Katakana; and a form of the English alphabet. It takes years to learn all three. Japanese students in the first grade study Hiragana and Katakana which are relatively simple, and contain a limited number of characters to learn. Each year in school the students learn more and more kanji throughout their entire 12 years of public education. For example, there are kanji that a 2nd grade student would not be able to read, but a 3rd grade student could read. Each year in school more and more kanji are added to the students' curriculum until the bare minimum of "standardized kanji" (Toyo kanji) of 1,850 have been reached. One thing was for certain, everyone could read and write Katakana and Hiragana.

So, it is likely that when the American forces prepared these leaflets for the non-Japanese inhabitants of Saipan who had, as citizens of the empire attended at least the 1st grade. They made it in katakana so all could read and understand.

Because the Pacific war was an island war and the American military campaign called for many strongly defended islands to be bi-passed, the psychological operations (PSYOP) against the Japanese troops stationed on those islands became a very specialized art. These men were often out of communication with their officers and political cadre, sometimes without food or water, often sick or injured and without medical treatment or drugs. As a result, they were the perfect target for propaganda. Sometimes, these abandoned Japanese troops were on islands where Americans had landed. They were capable of putting up a resistance, even if a weak one. American forces could be better used elsewhere than guarding installations against attack from a few soldiers in the hills. It was important in both cases to convince the Japanese holdout that his war was over and his best action was to come over to the American side. Allied propaganda needed to destroy the Japanese fighting spirit and cause him to quit the fight.  

Themes for Japan Proper

Leaflets for the Japanese homeland are generally somewhat different than those dropped on troops. Because the civilian has been less indoctrinated than the soldier, an appeal will usually have a greater effect. The civilian has more leisure time to reflect on the message than the soldier. Propaganda for the civilian should be aimed at three targets. The first is the “little people,” the farmers, merchants, fisherman, etc. The second target is the students. The final target is the “official” class. The students are the most susceptible to anti-militarist statements. The workers are most susceptible to terrorist themes and citing the lies of their leaders. The officials should be appealed to with the logic of inevitable defeat and the need to save the nation by ending the war.

General Themes Which Proved Effective In Japan

1. Citing the lies of Japanese leaders.

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OWI leaflet 2023

OWI leaflet 2023 is designed to denounce Japan's leaders as liars. It refutes the fantastic claims of Japanese sea victories and the loss of American aircraft carriers. The leaflet depicts a squadron of American SBD Dauntless dive-bombers flying over a fleet of U. S. aircraft carriers. Text on the back is: 


In a 14 October 1944 broadcast, Japanese commentators quoted naval Captain Kurihara's statement that Japanese forces inflicted tremendous damage upon the great American fleet that attacked Formosa, but that America would probably still be able to bomb Japan.

Knowing that Japanese lies about American losses would not affect the actual situation, Captain Kurihara sought deliberately to offer an excuse for future powerful American air raids against Japan.

Those planes are from American aircraft carriers that your leaders said were sunk near Formosa. Our bombs now tell you that not one carrier was sunk off Formosa during October. 


Two US Navy Helldiver dive bombers, with the USS Yorktown below - July 1944.
Could the OWI artists have used this photo as inspiration for the leaflet above?
Notice the aircraft are following the wake of the carrier below.

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Dauntless Dive Bombers in Action – 1943

This leaflet appears to have succeeded. A wartime Japanese report by the Foreign Section of the Home Ministry says:

People were anxious about losing the war. They had these leaflets saying, “Your leaders told you a lie, and our planes came from an aircraft carrier that your leaders claimed was sunk off the coast of Formosa.” Many people became doubtful about the information from the Japanese Imperial headquarters.

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OWI Leaflet 2001

This is a very interesting leaflet that depicts a gagged speaker trying to talk on a microphone to the Japanese people. Behind him, the hands of an Army and Naval officer hold a book and a newspaper with pages torn out. The Japanese people reach out for real news but it is all censored by the Government. I have seen this in two formats; coded 2001, in a heavy dark yellow paper 8.5 x 6.5 inches; and a thinner pale yellow paper coded 2001A at 8 x 5-inches. The leaflet is meant to encourage a distrust of Japanese reports of the war.

The text quotes Sanji Muto, who was assassinated on 9 March 1934. There is a long text on the back that says in part:

When I first came to this paper, the Jiji Shimpo, I was shocked to find that, contrary to my expectations, there was actually no freedom of speech. I had the impression that we had attained a fair degree of freedom of speech. Yet, every month, there will always be seven or eight executive orders not to treat this article in this vein, not to touch this incident, etc.... We do not have freedom of speech.

If this was so in 1934, how much more it is true now.

Why do you not have freedom of speech? It's because your militarists do not want you to know the truth. If, the people of Japan heard the truth now, they would know that Japan is losing on every front.

Demand the truth! Why should the children of the land of the sun be forced to live in darkness?

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OWI Leaflet 2030

This leaflet points out that although the military leaders have told the Japanese people of the wonderful results they can expect from the Co-prosperity Sphere, they are lying. The results will not bode well for the Japanese people. The leaflet depicts a long line of Japanese people waiting to buy food. The text on the front is:

The Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere is just a Dream of your Leaders

The propaganda text is:

Your leaders have tried to convince you that by cutting Asia from the rest of the world you would gain great riches. They told you the same about Manchukuo, but Manchukuo brought you only more expense and the competition of cheap goods which depressed your own prices and made things harder for the ordinary man.

Then they said the same thing about China. Even if you had succeeded in conquering Asia you would have been faced with added burdens – cheap labor and cheap good competing against your own labor and goods.

Japan needs the American market for its silk. In former years America took 95% of your silk. So as with other goods, international trade is necessary for prosperity. The true co-prosperity sphere is the whole world.

This leaflet was designed by Francis Blakemore. Her autobiography says about it:

In order to cause a schism between civilians and their militarist leaders, The U.S. propagandists blamed the Japanese Government for the hardships of everyday life. The Japanese faced harsh rationing regulations and critical shortages of basic commodities. Leaflet 2030 links their economic difficulties to the rule of the militarists, encouraging Japanese civilians to turn against them.


OWI Leaflet 2077

I originally did not add this leaflet to this article because I have also written about radio propaganda and this leaflet seemed a better fit in that article. However, the propaganda based on getting the enemy to listen to your radio is so important that in every war right up to the present there are numerous leaflets that explain how and when to find the American radio to hear the truth about the status of the war.

This leaflet depicts a radio tower on the front and a microphone on the back. The purpose is to create a desire among the Japanese people to listen to the American OWI radio station on Saipan. The concept is to discuss the fact that war news has been withheld from the people for long periods of time because the military leaders do not want the people to know the truth about their "clumsy" campaigns. The leaflet explains that the radio station will change its frequency from time to time so that the broadcasts will reach Japan. The leaflet lists the schedule for the "Voice of America from Saipan." The text is extensive. Some selected portions are:

The fact that Saipan and Leyte had fallen to the Americans was withheld from the Japanese people for a long time. If you are interested in the latest news, listen to the Voice of America from Saipan (850-meter band, 1100 kilocycle).

Your military leaders who are carrying on a clumsy military campaign, do not want you to listen to the truth. If you want to listen to the news without interference, dial your radios to 850 meters, 1100 kilocycles, every evening at 6:00 p.m. In order that we may be able to give you the news, this station will change its frequency from time to time. By this method, you will be able to learn the true situation concerning your sons and husbands who are fighting on various fronts. Also, you will hear the true situation of soldiers who are being cared for by America.

The back features the Saipan broadcasting schedule.

Some of the programs broadcast from 6:00 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. on the 50-meter band; 1199 kilocycles are:

6:00 Music.
6:25 To the officers and enlisted men of the Army and Navy.
6:35 American news.
6:45 News from the Field
6:55 Interesting peoples and places.
7:00 Music.
7:05 News of the world from America.
7:20 News of the world from England.
7:35 News commentary from Washington.
7:50 Special commentary on the news.
8:00 Music.
8:25 The way of reason.
8:45 Short commentary (highlights)
8:50 Science news, postwar matters.
9:00 Music.

2. Creating dissension and friction (divide and conquer).

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OWI leaflet 2015

OWI leaflet 2015 is designed to cause dissension between the people of Japan and their militarist leaders. The text reminds the people that their leaders cannot protect them from American bombs. The leaflet depicts a worker trying to hold on to his home while a militarist pulls on his leg with a rope. The leaflet is printed in brown ink on a blue paper stock. There is a reprint coded 2015A in blue ink on white paper and an identical second reprint printed in brown ink on a white paper. OWI records indicate that 5,700,000 copies of leaflet 2015 were printed. Text on the back is:

No one runs away when his home is about to fall. He will repair the weak spot before it falls.

Japan is facing a national crisis. The rotten portion of the national structure is the Gumbatsu. The recent air raids over Japan have proven the fact that the Gumbatsu have deceived you concerning their strength.

Displace the Gumbatsu. Save yourselves and save the nation.

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OWI leaflet 2015A

This leaflet is featured in LIFE magazine of 9 July 1945:

The "Gumbatsu" oppression of the Japanese people is exposed. The top inscription tells the Japanese that the Gumbatsu, without the emperor's sanction, invaded Manchuria in 1931. The bottom caption recalls that the Gumbatsu ordered the assassinations of moderates. The reverse side advises the Japanese: “Only with the defeat of the Military clique will you become a free people.”

The word “Gumbatsu” appears in numerous American propaganda leaflets. The Gumbatsu was a coalition of military leaders, elected political leaders, rich industrialists and wealthy landowners who ruled Japan. They are similar to what President Dwight D. Eisenhower called the “Military-Industrial complex” in his famous 1961 speech. Perhaps remembering Japan 16 years earlier, he said: 

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

The Americans were serious. The Gumbatsu is mentioned in the book End of Empire, Chandler, Cribb and Narangoa, NIAS Press, Copenhagen, Denmark, 2016:

On 6 November 1945, the Japanese Gumbatsu monopolies were dissolved. Recognizing the important role they played in Japan’s war effort, General MacArthur ordered that all 17 of Japan’s vertically integrated corporations dissolve their structures. This was the first antitrust law in Japanese history.

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OWI leaflet 2007

This leaflet is intended to cause distrust between the people and the militarists. There are four images on the leaflet; each depicting a freedom that every Japanese citizen should have: the freedom from want, the freedom from fear, the freedom of speech and the freedom from oppression. The above leaflet is on a crème-colored paper; my own specimens are printed in brown on a green paper. The text on the back says in part:

There is only one way to attain the freedoms. Do away with the Gumbatsu who brought about this war and join the free nations.

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Leaflet 2039

Frances Blakemore designed this leaflet specifically for civilian farmers. The U.S. divided civilian targets into officials, students and “little people.” The farmers were considered “little people.” The leaflet depicts a handsome and strong female farmer at the far right, overhead a branch of Natsu Mikan (Japanese orange) and a farm scene in the background. The leaflet argues that the government is destroying the livelihood of the farmers and seeks to turn them against the uncaring officials far away in the ivory towers of the big cities. She does not tell the farmers how to fight the bureaucrats, but the usual method is to hide the food for personal use or to sell and tell the government that it was a bad crop. Some of the text is:

To the Farmers

You are forced to send your agricultural products at cheap prices due to the regulations determine by those who only think about exploiting farm villages. The small quantity of manure which is occasionally distributed is priced tremendously high. Furthermore, the Army snatches up the horses and oxen necessary to cultivate the farm land, and human help is decreasing all the time. Despite this, you are ordered to increase production. In addition, the commodities you must buy command a much higher price than the farm products you send out. What nonsense!

Can you silently accept such unreasonable happenings? Now is the time for you to attack the fools is the city who created such a desperate situation.

3. Citing American industrial might and recent military victories.

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Leaflet 2052

This leaflet, entitled “Scenes at an American shipyard” must have terrified the Japanese. It clearly shows them that the United States can built ships faster than the Japanese can sink them. It features seven photographs of American shipyards and ship construction. The text on the front is:

Looking aft on a Liberty Ship being completed. In 1943, 3,000 of these fifteen-thousand ton ships were completed. This year it is changed over to the big “victory” type ship.

A group of workers in a shipyard. They work fifty-six hours a week, eight hours a day, rest only thirty minutes. With the best of equipment and skill they shorten the hours of completion of a ship.

Mass production of oil tankers. Six ships completed in seven days. Building them in parts and assembling them is the secret to the super-speed production of ships.

The text on the back is:

Two new destroyers. On January first of this year, America had 4,867 various types of fighting ships and 80,000 landing boats. A fighting ship is being added to the American Navy every two hours.

A night scene of a shipyard. American shipyards operate day and night. In five years they completed 65,000 ships.

The laying of a keel of 15,000-ton Liberty ship in a shipyard operated by Henry Kaiser. It was completed in 4 1/2 days, thus establishing another record.

The launching in an American shipyard of a Liberty Ship named after Sun Yat Sen of China. At a Pacific Coast Shipyard they are turning out at the rate of 19 ships per month.

Leaflet 400

This OWI leaflet printed on and dropped by B-29s based on Saipan depict a massive wave of bombers and naval ships on their way to Japan. It shows the Japanese that they are incapable of resisting America’s superior forces. The text is:

You have already felt the power of our navy during the bombardment, but you have only had a brief experience with American power. More ships, more troops, and more supplies are on the way. Innumerable planes, unchallenged by your air force, will darken the skies over you. Your navy too, has been driven off and dares not oppose us. Your resistance is futile.

Lay down your arms and cease resistance. We will not harm you. Our commander has instructed that you will receive good food and medical treatment.

Don’t throw away your lives in vain! Join us!

That line in the text, “darken the skies over you,” immediately reminded me of Dana Andrew’s speech in the 1944 motion picture The Purple Heart when the Doolittle flyers were being sent to their death by a Japanese court, “We will blacken your skies and burn your cities to the ground and make you get down on your knees and beg for mercy.”

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OWI Leaflet 403

This leaflet was printed in a bright orange color and meant to show America’s superiority in the air. It has six Japanese newspaper style cartoon panels on the front that depicts the Japanese building a fighter, sending it off to battle, and at the end the aircraft sinking into the Pacific. It makes fun of a Japanese slogan “Even one more plane,” that the militarists used to encourage aircraft production. The text points out that for every plane built by Japan, the United States builds seven. Some of the text is:

Why were the Gumbatsu, knowing the productive capacity of America and England, so stupid as to attack them? On 29 May, Kiyoshi Goko, Cabinet Advisor and President of the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries said, “Air superiority is the motivating power which leads to victory.”

America has that superiority. Your leaders, against the Emperor’s command, have started this hopeless and useless war. It is to be deeply regretted.

One more plane sent to war means only one more plane destroyed.

4. Terrorizing and threatening death and destruction. 

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OWI Leaflet 404

Like the leaflet above, this theme is the vast American armada on the way to Japan. I don’t find it an attractive leaflet and did not intend to show it. However, the text is interesting and shows that American scholars were trying to use Japanese philosophy and terminology as a weapon. The Japanese used the name “Wild Eagles” for their pilots. This leaflet depicts American B-29 bombers approaching Japan and small sparrows fluttering to earth. It clearly shows that the Japanese eagles are nothing but small helpless birds about to be pushed aside by the American might. The text is:

Your military leaders have spoken with awe of the Dai Toa Kessen Butai, the purpose of which is to repair your losses and drive the Allies from the Pacific. They have tried to impress you with its strength, but stop and think about that strength. It hasn’t checked the American advance at all, has it? Why? Because it’s only a feeble unit compared to our own vast forces. Two sparrows can’t drive off twenty American eagles.

Open your eyes! Your leaders at home don’t want you to know how weak Japan’s strength is right now. But big talk will not compensate for meager and inferior equipment and supplies!  

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OWI Leaflet 2063

The image on this leaflet is very neutral, no threat at all and no image of the military or wartime. It depicts St. Luke’s Hospital, built for the Japanese by the United States. The message however is one of the most threatening I have seen. It is intended to introduce fear and resentment. The Americans first tell the Japanese basically that they can bomb them back to the dark ages. Then they change the tone and say that the two nations can be friends again since the Americans are very kind and merciful. It is a mixed message, but I think it gets the point across. The message is long so I edit and just mention some of the highlights. The text on the front is:

St. Luke’s Hospital, Taukiji, Tokyo

Gift from America to Japan

The text on the back says in part:

We did not start this war. As you know, the war was started by the attack on Pearl Harbor without warning and without the approval of the Emperor. We did not start this war but we will finish it. If necessary, we can destroy your munitions factories and military establishments. If necessary, we can continue bombing until your country lies in ruins…But we do like destruction. We desire peace.

We respect people who fight for their nation. You have fought well. We hate useless sacrifice. You have fought bravely; but you are in an unfavorable position. The decision is already clear. To continue the struggle only means further useless suffering. Cease fighting and come over as friends (as before the war). We will do nothing that will disgrace you…We are kind to children, sick people, and to people who are suffering.

Instead of fearing us, you should fear the military clique who have betrayed the Emperor, sacrificed millions of soldiers, brought ruin to your cities, and caused shortages in food and clothing.


Leaflet 2101

This OWI leaflet is a clear threat to the Japanese and makes clear to them the only course they have left; unconditional surrender of total desolation. The front shows U.S. President Harry S. Truman. To his left a happy Japanese mother and child and farmers on a canal. He gives the Japanese the first option. The text is:

Your alternatives are as follows: A cessation of hostilities with unconditional surrender; this is the only way left for preservation of your families, your homes, your economy, and your country.

The other side of the leaflet depicts a bombed Tokyo at top and a B-29 bomber below. The text is:

Save yourselves from this destruction

A Super-Fortress over Tokyo

Or a futile prolongation of resistance which will result in a needless desolation of your country and destruction even surpassing in scale that of Germany.

Some General Propaganda Themes

1. Appeals to physical needs like rest, food and medical treatment.

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Leaflet 2010

Leaflet 2010 is a leaflet that uses the theme of Japanese hypochondria to lower enemy morale. It is designed to exploit the perceived Japanese fear of disease and uncleanliness. It depicts a strange monster-like figure representing death and disease crawling over the bodies of Japanese women and children. The text on the front is:


The back is all text and says in part:

Disease comes with every war. Water lines and electricity will be destroyed by bombs. Food will become scarce. Thus you will weaken and become sick. Medicine will not be easy to buy and recovery will be difficult.

With every bombing the country becomes more unclean, and it is more difficult to control disease.

Put an end to this needless suffering. Demand that the militarists who started this was bring it to an end.

We know that this is an OWI leaflet designed in Honolulu by American artist Frances Blakemore. Morioka says:

A military officer with a bloodstained sword in his hand pompously leads a nightmarish parade. His resemblance to Tojo Hideki who personified Japanese militarism as Prime Minister and General of the Japanese Imperial Army during WWII, is startling. A ghostlike disease with a skeletal head and lizard-like body skulks behind him. It slithers triumphantly over people besieged and overcome by pests and other weird creatures.

2. Appeals against self-destruction and for self preservation. 

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OWI Leaflet 104

OWI Leaflet 104 meets the theme of convincing Japanese troops that it is better to live and build the nation rather than die a useless death. The leaflet depicts a grave marker and the text, “This soldier helped no one by dying.” There is also a picture of a live soldier and the text, “This living soldier will help to build a new Japan.”

The back is all text:


1. Death for the Gumbatsu.

2. Life for a new nation.

Those who die for the Gumbatsu die in vain because the Gumbatsu is losing the war.

Those who live preserve themselves for the great responsibility of rebuilding the nation.

There will be no disgrace in living to return to Japan because all who live do so for the same reason. 

This is a leaflet designed by Frances Blakemore. Morioka says about it:

Tall palm trees and fenced in buildings only give a subtle hint that he has surrendered and now lives in an American POW camp. Although contemplative in his pose and facial expression, he is alive and appears healthy, suggesting that surrender is better than death.

OWI Leaflet 414

This is a rather strange leaflet designed by Frances Blakemore that depicts a Japanese soldier at the right as a robot, then in the center as a skeleton, and finally at the left holding a baby. It was designed to fight the Japanese indoctrination that demanded no surrender and the fight to the death or suicide. The word “surrender” is never mentioned, but the argument to surrender is made. Some of the text is:

What is a soldier?

There are various types of soldiers, but they are fundamentally all the same. Is a soldier merely a piece of machinery without brains, nerves or flesh? If that is the case you could order these machines to be trapped in a hopeless war.

Is a soldier merely a skeleton without feeling or emotion, bleaching in the battlefield? If that is the case, you could leave them to be eaten by birds and animals in this land far from home.

Or is a soldier a human being who loves peace and dreams about holding his child in his arms and living happily with his wife and family in his home? Yes, all soldiers, with enemies or allies, hope earnestly for the same thing. There is only one way, stop useless resistance.

If this is so, then make your dreams come true. The American Army is prepared to give food, water, clothing and medicine. And when the war is over, we will be able to go home and work in the rebuilding of our country.

Leaflet 2000

This leaflet uses as a theme the word “Mabiki,” a term used by the Japanese meaning to thin out their fields or use abortion or murder to get rid of unwanted children. The leaflet basically says that the militarists do the same thing and send soldiers to their death in a process like thinning out the herds. The front depicts a Japanese woman with child walking through a rainstorm toward a river where she is about to throw her baby into the water. It is in the manner of a Japanese woodblock print. The leaflet was printed in two versions, leaflet 2000 in blue at 5.5 x 8-inches, and 2000A on crème-colored paper at 5 x 8-inches. Some of the text on the back is:

Mabiki means the “thinning” out process of children by abortion or killing them, like the thinning out of turnips and cabbages.

In the days of Takugawa, the government often issued edicts against the malpractice. In the ninth year of Horeki the Lord of Tosa, condemning such a practice, declared: “This is an act that is practiced by persons who dare to disregard the laws and teachings of heaven and have no humanity.” Yet today, your militarists are guilty of equal disregard of the laws of man and heaven when they continue to send men to their death in this hopeless war.

The people of Japan are realizing this already. 1708 soldiers and 13,000 civilians entered the American gates on Saipan. When this war is over, they will still be of service to the nation. The dead will be of no use at all.

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Leaflet 2051

Once again the OWI tries to convince the Japanese that it is their duty to end the war and save their lives and their nation. This is an all text-leaflet featuring a scroll on the front with the text:

People come First, the Country follows and the Ruler is last

A long text on the back has excerpts from various famous Japanese writers that say that the people should place their own lives above those of their rulers. That would seem to be a very un-Japanese concept. There is a long quote from Sakuzo Yoshino who wrote about Meiji era literature. Some of his comments are:

A nation is built on people. Proof of that is that is that even though there is no ruler if there are people a nation exists. On the other hand, even if there is a ruler, if there are no people there is no nation…Without people a country will expire. The duty of the Japanese people now is to end this war that they cannot win and thus save the nation.

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Leaflet 2065

This 1945 OWI leaflet also stresses the theme that death for Japan is foolish and the preservation of life patriotic. It quotes a Japanese sergeant who was a prisoner-of-war and talks about rebuilding the nation after the war. I added this leaflet because of the image; a stark red, black and white scene of a feudal Japanese samurai warrior attempting to fight off modern American aircraft with his sword. The samurai had no fear of death and were famous for their willingness to fight to the bitter end for their feudal lord. The aircraft are painted with “artistic license” and there is no American two-engine aircraft that looks exactly like the one at the left, although the British did have a “Mosquito” that was quite similar. I think it might be a rendition of a Lockheed P-38 Lightning, though it is hard to be sure. The aircraft at right looks a bit like the American Bell P-39 Aeracobras, but I doubt the artist had any specific fighters in mind. Some of the text from the long message on the back is:

The Following is a note written by a Japanese sergeant who finally entered the American gate [Surrendered or been captured]:

The people and the nation should consider seriously the position of the soldier who has fought to the last and has become a captive. We are the ones that shall be the nucleus in the rebuilding of Japan after the war.

The war cannot be won by courage alone. The side with the superior scientific weapons, superior tactics, and superior number of troops will win. To throw away one’s life blindly with the fanaticism of bushido [the warrior’s way] is not real love of country. This is a dog’s death. The practice of bushido now belongs to the feudal period; we should not put away this type of bushido and replace it with the bushido of a new era. We cannot fight on an empty stomach. In the same way, without arms and equipment we cannot win.

When we consider these facts, should we commit suicide when we unfortunately become American prisoners? Or should we not prolong our lives as men and as a member of our nation; and returning to our country after the war, endure hardship for a while and offer our lives for the good of Japan. I feel keenly the importance of thinking carefully and choosing the right course.

This is another Francis Blakemore painting. Morioka says about it:

Frances’s drawing ingeniously juxtaposes the old and the new; a samurai dressed in magnificent armor and mounted on a beautiful black horse thrusts a sword toward a sky crowded with U.S. bombers. The meticulous portrayal of the samurai in his full battle gear contributes to his heroic stature and imbues the image with poignancy. The message is clear: the samurai, the emblem of “old bushido,” is no match for modern warfare, no matter how courageous he may be. It mirrored the actual experience of Japanese troops who were discovering that spiritual strength alone could not fend off an enemy with unlimited material resources and superior weapons.

3. Give face-saving ways for the Japanese to cease resistance. Offer excuses. Blame others for his plight.

The threat of Japanese suicide was very real and the United States produced a great number of leaflets in an attempt to convince the Japanese soldier to live to return home. The Japanese warrior code stated that death in battle brought honor both to individual and to the nation. The preferred method of hara-kiri or seppuku is to stab yourself in the left abdomen and pull the knife across your stomach, disemboweling yourself. This should be done without showing any pain or emotion. Many Japanese would have a friend stand by with a sword and if they wavered their friend would do them the honor of beheading them before they expressed pain and dishonored themselves.

An Office of Strategic Services Interrogation dated 9 June 1944 mentions a Japanese officer explaining to his troops the way they should die rather than be captured in a situation where seppuku was impossible and time was of the essence:

  1. Point your rifle under your chin. Place a stick in the trigger guard. Use both feet to force the stick down.
  2. Release the safety pin of a hand grenade and place it close to your body.
  3. Plunge your bayonet into your body.

It is very interesting to note that although the American propagandists tried to keep Japanese enlisted personnel from killing themselves, they had no reserve about urging Japanese officers to commit seppuku. Eleanor Sparagana says in her doctoral thesis entitled, The Conduct and Consequences of Psychological Warfare: American Psychological Warfare Operations in the War against Japan, 1941-1945:

Not all propaganda directed at the military sounded as compassionate as the anti-suicide appeals. One of the more hard-hearted and devious facets of the campaign consisted of inciting Japanese officers to perform seppuku when they failed in their military mission. The Allied reminded Japanese battle-level officers that, while they committed soldiers to commit hara-kiri instead of surrendering, their senior leaders, including Tojo, often failed to kill themselves after their failures in battle. One leaflet depicted a leader preparing to kill himself while kneeling beside a newspaper that chronicled his failure. Another leaflet pictured the traditional setting for seppuku and insisted: “It is time that the military leaders admitted their failures and obeyed the code which they demand that their followers obey. If they do not take that action the people should demand that they do so.”

Leaflet 532

This early OWI leaflet contains two messages, both addressed to soldiers and designed to lower their morale by weakening their willingness to fight to the death and by undermining the soldier’s confidence in his officers. One tells the Japanese who admired the German military about a German admiral that surrendered, and the second claims that their Japanese officers see them as little more than “expendables.” The front of the leaflet has a large area of text and around the border military scenes. The back also has text but the image is one of civilians at peace. The text says in part:

Recently Rear Admiral Walter Hennecke, the German naval commander in Normandy, was captured by American troops who landed there. In WWI, Admiral Hennecke had been in British hands for two years. Yet his record in both wars is excellent. We note the difference between Admiral Hennecke’s conduct and that of Admiral Nagumo who committed suicide at Saipan. Of what value is suicide when it leaves a man without sons to bear his name and carry on his line? Do you want to be the last in your line, or do you want a family? Lay down your arms and come over to us.

Why must you continually retreat before the strong American Army. Why must you face defeat and death? The Japanese officers had the duty of preparing for war. It was their job to equip you with the necessary weapons and devise a strategy that would repel an enemy…Your officers cannot hold this island and are now debating when to evacuate the island by plane and submarine. It is not necessary for you to stay on this island and fight to the death.

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Leaflet 2081

This leaflet was developed to create a feeling of antagonism among civilians toward the military leaders. It talks about the freedom of speech that once existed in Japan that has been taken away by the militarists. Remember that during this period there was a “Thought Police” that could arrest and hold a person for what they suspected he was thinking. The leaflet quotes formerly prominent Japanese that believed in freedom, and points out that the only way to ensure the future of Japan is through the freedom of speech and government. One side of the leaflet depicts Yukichi Fukuzawa and the other side depicts Taisuke Itagaki. OWI files indicate that 3,800,000 leaflets were printed. Some of the text is:


Japan became a great nation due to the people who understood what freedom was. Mr. Yukichi Fukuzawa declared "the independence of the nation starts with the independence of the people. Mr. Taisuke Itagaki declared when he was attacked by an assassin "even if Itagaki dies, freedom will not die."

Due to these people, the truth that "only free nations can become great" was well understood in old Japan…the military clique restricted free speech…The present situation magnificently proves that the theory taken by the military leaders who led Japan to destruction was false…to secure the freedom of speech and the government with the principle of freedom is the only way to insure the future of Japan.

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Leaflet 2090

Leaflet 2090 is designed to destroy the people's confidence in the militarists. OWI records indicate that 2,600,000 copies of this leaflet were printed. The front of the leaflet has an illustration of twelve prominent Japanese militarists with a caption above that reads:

Military leaders of Japan. Can you convince the people that you are able to defend the soil, the waters, and the skies of Japan? 

The back of the leaflet depicts President Harry S. Truman and the following text:

Harry S. Truman, President of the United States, asked these questions in a message directed to the people of Japan.  

"Did you not in the past solemnly declare that you would defend Guam, Tinian, the Philippines, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa, the last barricade on the way to Tokyo? Did you not promise in the past, that our planes would not violate the skies of Japan? Were you able to keep these promises?

Let me assure you again and again that my country is determined to fight this war to its predestined end and I cannot find any who thinks that our victory will be too hard and too costly to win. 

Your future lies in your own hands. You can choose between a wasteful unclean death for many of your forces, or a peace with honor."

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Leaflet 2096

This leaflet, like the one above, is meant to develop resentment against the military leaders. The image depicts a sinking Japanese transport with food falling into the ocean. The militarists are blamed for the shortage of food in Japan because they could not protect their shipping from American aircraft and submarines. The text on the front is:

Casualty of War - The Moment before Sinking

The back is all text and says in part:


One of the excuses the militarists gave for the beginning of this war was that it was essential to ensure the supply of food from overseas. And so you have been at war for many years. Now, however, the militarists are saying that your food supplies have sunk to an unprecedented low, and that, in the future, food rations will become smaller and smaller…What happened to the ships which in peacetime transported provisions to Japan? Many ships carrying war materials have been sunk by American submarines and planes. Moreover, the B-29s have now laid mines in the various harbors and coastal waters…How long will you allow the militarists wantonly to drive the people of Japan to starvation?

General MacArthur thought that attacking the military leadership of Japan was an excellent theme of propaganda. He said:

Their officer Corps deteriorates as you go up the scale. It is fundamentally based upon a caste and feudal system and does not represent strict professional merit. Therein lies Japan’s weakness…Gripped inexorably by a military hierarchy, that hierarchy is now failing the nation. It has neither the imagination or the foresighted ability to organize Japanese resources for a total war. Defeat now stares Japan in the face. When public opinion realizes that its admirals and generals have failed in the field of actual combat and campaign, the revulsion produced in Japanese thought will be terrific. Therein lies a basis for ultimate hope that the Japanese citizen will cease his almost idolatrous worship of the military that has failed him.

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OWI Leaflet 2111

The leaflet attempts to create anxiety about the food supply of Japan and cause war weariness. It depicts two photographs of Japanese cargo ships that have been sunk by bombing or torpedoed by an American submarine. The text on the front is:

A Watery Grave

Some of the text on the back is:

Where is the Rice?

The militarists cried to the people: “Considering the great sacrifices our officers and soldiers at the front are making, you must send food to the combat areas; even if that means that you eat only two meals a day instead of three.” Officers who had returned from the front said in broadcasts to the people: “If we had even one rice ball to eat, we would not have been defeated by the enemy.”

As a result, on the home front, people have been overcome by hunger and have toppled over at their work. Pupils have stolen other people’s lunch at school, and you have no food to give to your children when they complain of hunger. Wives of soldiers at the front have committed suicide with their children. At the front, the soldiers dying of hunger, one after the other say enviously: “The people back home are surely eating well.”

What happened to the food you produced after long hours of toil?

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The Original Photograph

Notice that the Americans are never mentioned. The Japanese are left to figure out for themselves where the food has gone. A decade after I wrote this article the original picture of the Japanese ship being torpedoed was found. The caption was:

A Japanese cargo ship goes down in the South China Sea after being torpedoed by the submarine USS Spot (SS-413). This photo was taken through the periscope. The ship is the Nanking Maru, 17 March 1945.

The son of Photographer's Mate 2nd/Class Paul Guttman told me:

My father took this picture through the periscope of the USS Spot during a patrol in the South China Sea. In the original print you can see the reticle lines of the periscope. He was on board to determine the feasibility of filming on board in color during a combat patrol for the purpose of making a documentary about the submarine service. However, that turned out to be impossible due to the close space, lack of light, and the fact that he was not permitted on deck while in enemy waters. The captain permitted him to take this picture through the periscope with a still camera. It was the only combat shot he got during the entire patrol.

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Paul Guttman in action on board the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown

He belonged to Edward Steichen's Naval Aviation Photographic Unit. However, he was not a flyer and he did not work exclusively with aviation units. At various times he worked on ships, in aircraft, and with the ground troops. However he originally was, in fact, a Seabee. I believe he was the only Seabee ever awarded the Submarine Combat Pin and the Distinguished Flying Cross.

The picture above depicts my father at work with a 16mm movie camera on board the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown (CV-10) in the Central Pacific during 1944. At that time he was one of the cameramen filming material subsequently used to produce the documentary, “The Fighting Lady.” They worked with 16-mm motion picture film because 35mm motion picture cameras were too large and bulky for combat use. In order to use those images in a feature motion picture, they had to be enlarged four times, to 35-mm format, which is why those images always look a little bit fuzzy (an effect which Stephen Spielberg spent millions of dollars to replicate in "Saving Private Ryan"). His decorations eventually included the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Purple Heart with Gold Star, Two Presidential Unit Citations (for USS Yorktown and USS Hornet), the Navy Unit Commendation (for Air-Sea Rescue Squadron VH-3), The Philippine Liberation Medal and the Asiatic-Pacific Medal with 12 campaign stars. He was invalided home from an Army Field Hospital on Okinawa and finished the war with the rank of Photographers Mate 2/Class.

The account below does not mention that the submarine attacked those ships with torpedoes while on the surface because they were sailing through shallow coastal waters to avoid submarines. The submarine was damaged by gunfire because they got involved in a surface engagement with the enemy escorts before they were able to withdraw back into deeper water, where they were finally able to submerge.

Quite by accident, years later I read a report on the results of American and Japanese subs attacking each other, Analysis of Japanese Submarine losses to Allied Submarines. The special reports states that one U.S. sub is known to have been sunk by a Japanese sub (the Corvina, SS-216) and two others might have been although there is no proof. At the same time the American subs killed 16 Japanese subs and may have sunk four more although there is no proof.

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OWI Leaflet 2033

I was not going to add this leaflet because it is in the form of a chart and I prefer photographs and artwork. However, the two leaflets above both show the Japanese losing the lifelines to their supplies. This leaflet put it into a more graphic display. The text on the front of the leaflet is:

There is no denying the facts

The products mentioned in each category from top to bottom are:

Coke (carbon fuel)

Text on the back of the leaflet is:

The figures on the other side show how much Japan relies on the places across the ocean for necessary materials.

American submarines, planes and warships are now sinking your ships at a rate of three million tons a year. It was really foolish of your military men to start a war against the two greatest naval powers, America and Great Britain, when they knew that the life of your nation depended on shipping. This is one of their many blunders.

Every day of resistance further destroys the fleet on which Japan’s prosperity is built. Cease useless resistance. Save the Homeland.

4. Cite the lies of Japanese leaders. Point out that the Japanese spirit is not invincible, and that Americans do possess a fighting spirit.

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OWI leaflet 109

This is a folded 4-page leaflet that is 5 x 8 inches when fully opened. One side depicts an American Navy fighter pilot, his aircraft sporting the “Symbols of Japanese defeat,” 19 downed Japanese planes. The other side depicts a Japanese fighter going down in flames with little cartoon falling ducks around the aircraft and the comment: “Japan’s wild eagles are like falling ducks.” The inside is mostly text. The leaflet is written in both Chinese and Japanese and seems mostly aimed at Taiwan. Some of the message on this leaflet is:

Japanese Planes falling like Ducks. Is that a Victory?

Set afire by American bullets, this Japanese plane is on its way to join the fish at the bottom of the sea.

Victory in the Air?

The Japanese authorities lie about everything as you well know, but their most violent lies are about their air forces. When they announce their own losses, they are like small children who can only count the fingers of one hand, but when they boast of the other side’s losses they exaggerate more than three or four times in order to impress simple minded people.

Actually the dwarfs have not grasped clear-cut superiority in the air anywhere since the early months of the war. Over China, for example, U.S. flyers have shot down 10 Japanese planes for every one of theirs lost in combat. In the Southwest Pacific, the Americans and Australians have consistently made the Japanese pirates pay at the rate of four or five planes for every United Nations plane. Furthermore, as you well know, the U.S. produces many times more planes than Japan could ever dream of. This American superiority benefits you, for through it Taiwan will be liberated from the Japanese robbers…

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OWI leaflet 2042

This is a very interesting image, almost modern art. At the bottom, a Japanese military leader (sometimes identified as Tojo) sits playing with a scroll that depicts his armed forces. He smiles and is clearly very happy and confident. Behind him, the American symbol of Uncle Sam stands and from his hands fall massive squadrons of aircraft. It is a very odd image, but the finder of this leaflet would certainly see trouble approaching Japan in the near future. I have two copies of this leaflet, one is uncoded and on the second shown above, the code number 2042 has been added to the front in red ink. The text quotes an article from a Japanese magazine that mentions the determination and spirit of the Americans. The text on the front is:

The Gumbatsu miscalculated America’s Fighting Strength

The text on the back is:

The following is from an article in Chuo Koron of April 1925 by Hironori Mizuno;

“To underrate and look down upon the fighting spirit of the American people is a great mistake. In calculating the strength of America if we do not consider their manpower the equal of ours, we shall make the same mistake as Germany did in misjudging the British people in the First World War.”

The Gumbatsu made this mistake when they calculated their chance of winning this war. Now they know their error.

Must America strike the homeland of Japan to rid it of the greedy and grasping Gumbatsu? Save your own country!

Note: Chuo Koron (Central Review) is a monthly Japanese literary magazine first established during the Meiji period (23 October 1868 to 30 July 1912) and continuing to this day. It is located in Tokyo.

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OWI leaflet 2044

This leaflet bears 12 photographs that are designed to offer convincing proof to the Japanese that the Americans have a fighting spirit. The photographs depict front line and pre-invasion activities that testify to the strength and spirit of the American fighting man. The front of the leaflet depicts American aircraft, landing barges, calisthenics on an aircraft carrier, an American soldier advancing, a gun emplacement and a troop convoy. The propaganda text is:

Americans also have fighting spirit.

5. Respect for authority and law. Where the Americans have conquered they legally rule and the Japanese should obey their commands.

Leaflet 2050

This leaflet aimed to show the Japanese the state of the war in Europe. It depicts three photographs on the front and back that show the present state of the defeated German military and the Germans being treated with respect. The text on the front is:

Eric Elster of the German Army hands over his pistol to the commander of the American 83rd Division as a symbol of surrender.

German soldiers surrendering their rifles to the U.S. Army.

German soldiers giving up their arms. 500,000 German troops have surrendered up to the middle of June.

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Leaflet 2080

This leaflet was prepared to show the Japanese that the Americans are kind and fair rulers and do not mistreat the people they have conquered. The images on the front depicts the conquered people of Germany smiling and laughing and being well-treated and fed by American forces. On the back, two similar photographs depict the Japanese captured on Saipan being fed by the Americans. Some of the text is:

American soldiers are feeding German families with their own Army rations.

Children on Saipan are enjoying their meal under the protection of U.S. forces.

Americans have supplied foodstuff and clothing to millions of people who have been stripped of the materials for their living by the Germans in Europe. On Saipan and other islands of the Pacific many Japanese are protected by the United States armed forces, receiving foodstuff and clothing…Your leaders have lied to you. In order to escape the punishment which is to come down upon their own heads, they have made you believe that the American armed forces would persecute the Japanese people and want you to continue the war in which there is no hope of victory…Our religion requires our kindness and charity…Anyone who persecutes the people of enemy countries will be severely punished according to the law.

6. The overwhelming might of American arms and their recent victories.

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Leaflet 100

Leaflet 100 depicts a map of the entire western Pacific to include Japan, Australia, part of China and Southeast Asia. Two lines appear on the map, one in red, one in blue. The blue line depicts the furthest advances of the Japanese Empire, while the red line shows the current status of the war with Allied forces moving closer to the home islands. The lines visually prove that the Japanese Navy cannot protect the Empire and that Allied forces are advancing to within striking distance of Japan itself. Some of the demoralizing text is:


December 7 1941

November 1943 – Beginning of the American offensive!

The Gilbert Islands conquered by America November 20, 1943!

Saipan, Tinian and Guam conquered by America July 1944!

Is Japan next?

The Australian Military Forces Weekly Intelligence Review for the years 1943-44 talked about using the theme of a Japanese Army-Navy rift on leaflets. It quotes a Japanese document on the subject:

Although a large percentage of the ships in the Empire has been diverted to Army and Navy purposes, the number of requisitioned vessels is no longer sufficient to meet new demands. These conditions· make it necessary to reduce the flow of supplies to all units, with a consequent need for increases in local self-supply and greater simplicity in living standards. Up till now the Navy’s ability to maintain its supply lines has naturally been a reason for its strength. A marked difference between the living standards of Army and Navy forces in defense outposts has consequently arisen. A deliberate reduction of supplies is of course inadvisable; and thus, the inequality of standards is causing ill-feeling on the part of Army forces, a factor which is likely to injure interservice cooperation. Moreover, the enemy has recently sensed this Army - Navy rift and has exploited it for propaganda purposes. An immediate and thorough investigation is therefore felt to be imperative.

FELO Leaflet JM35

Since we mention Australia above, this might be a nice time to look at a leaflet for “Japanese troops anywhere,” printed by the Australian Far Eastern Liaison Office (FELO). When MacArthur reached Australia, they were already producing leaflets for Japan, so MacArthur incorporated them into the American PWB. The front of the leaflet depicts the Japanese Empire in the late years of the war as they are being pushed back on every front. I think you will see some resemblance to the later American leaflets from this example. The text is:

To the officers and men of the Japanese Army.

Wewak and its hinterland have been completely captured! Now only scattered elements of the forces in the whole area remain and these have already been forced back with heavy losses of personnel into the wild Jungle beyond.

Allied bases are established In the Philippine islands, in Borneo, in Iwo jima and Okinawa, cutting off all hope of relief.

You know that your own position is equally hopeless. We therefore strongly urge you to consider the situation carefully.

In the Wewak area one group comprising a field officer, 4 company officers and 36 NCO’s and men have recognized the uselessness of throwing away their lives like dogs and have chosen to come over to us so that they may play their part in the reconstruction of Japan after the war.

Come over to us now and join these officers and men in their plan for post war reconstruction of Japan.

By order of commander in Chief, Allied Forces.

[Author’s note] Wewak was the site of the largest Japanese airbase in mainland New Guinea.

FELO Leaflet PK14

FELO did not only drop leaflets on the Japanese. It also dropped leaflets in native languages to the various tribes and people living in the islands occupied by Japanese troops. The PK code indicates leaflets for New Guinea, Buka, or Bougainville. The leaflet often had images of native ritual items in full color that the locals might keep forever. The language is often Pidgin English. A medium of communication with a base of English, sometimes with a mixture of Chinese, Portuguese, and Hindustani. The text on the back of this leaflet is:


We know that the Japanese are lying to you and telling you that the Americans are not strong and that the Germans will come soon and help the Japanese to defeat America. This is all lies and gammon talk.

Now hear the truth.

The Americans are very strong now. American soldiers have gone ashore on islands near Japan and their planes are bombing the big cities of Japan,

English and American armies have bottled up the Germans in Germany and their day is finished. They have no ships, no planes, nothing left. How then can they help the Japanese. Nonsense; they cannot.

You boys think. Every day you see our planes flying overhead bombing the Japanese positions. You know our soldiers are advancing and killing plenty of Japanese soldiers every day. Where are the Japanese ships to bring them reinforcements, new guns, more food? They haven’t got them - we have sunk them.

The Japanese know they are nearly beaten, so they are lying and humbugging you, that’s all.


[Author’s note]: “Gammon” is a racist insult, usually for white people. It seems to be used here for yellow-skinned people. “Humbugging” can be a person who is not what he or she claims or pretends to be, an impostor, or something devoid of sense or meaning; nonsense.

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 OWI leaflet 514

OWI leaflet 514 stresses the American military and industrial might. The leaflet is larger than usual at about 7 x 9.5 inches and printed in a bright red ink. The leaflet depicts a sky full of American aircraft and a sea full of American naval vessels all aimed at Japan. The purpose of the leaflet is to weaken Japanese morale by stressing American industrial and military might. References are made to America’s vast forces of men and equipment, and comments of prisoners of war are quoted generally to support the theme’s contentions. Text on the back is:

Powerful American forces, supported by innumerable planes, tanks, and ships, have already landed on your shores. Resistance against such overwhelming  masses of men and equipment can only be futile. We know your valor, but you can't do the impossible.

As some of your soldiers who, at Tarawa and Saipan, expressed their thanks to us for fine medical treatment, admitted: "You Americans keep pouring in men and Materials. What can we do?" Yes, and this time we have even more than at Tarawa and Saipan.


OWI Leaflet 2003

This leaflet emphasizes American air power. The front depicts vast forces of ships and planes converging on Japan. I have seen this leaflet in two versions. One is on white paper and shows the sea as blue. The second is on all green paper. The text on both is:

For months before Germany’s defeat, the newspapers of occidental nations were filled daily with headlines and articles revealing American airpower. Such headlines as “5,500 Allied bombers strike Germany” were common.

Now that the war in Europe is over, we can concentrate on you. Our new giant B-29s have already bombed your homeland and Manchuria. Soon the power of their attacks will increase, and headlines will describe the devastating bombings of your war plants in Japan. Your defeat is only a matter of time.

OWI Leaflet 2036

There is no doubt about what this leaflet implies. Thousands of B-29 bombers flying over Japan and turning it into a burning ruin. The purpose is to put fear into the minds of the workers about continued bombing and encouraging them to leave the industrial areas. This mass migration would of course end the Japanese ability to produce weapons and ammunition. The signs on the front say:

Military Establishments: Danger

Factories: Danger

The back is all text:

To the Residents of the Industrial Areas!

Our bombing of your industrial areas will become more and more severe. We warn you to move out of the industrial areas.

We do not wish to injure or kill civilians. Only by leaving the area can you be saved. All factories are military objectives. Let the soldiers guard them.

OWI Leaflet 700A

I often say that I dislike all-text leaflets because they are plain and boring, and I believe the readers wants to see vivid images. This leaflet is a tiny one at 3.5 x 5-inches. However, the small text on a bright yellow background does catch the reader’s eye. The text on the front is:

Die for the Military Caste or Live for your Home and Country.

The text on the back is:

Because of the overwhelming American forces, equipment, and supplies, effective resistance on your part is now impossible. We are therefore asking you to lay down your arms and come over to us. No soldier can fight when the odds are hopeless.

You have all that you possibly could. Die for the military caste or live for your home and country! Don’t throw your life away in vain.

Note: This leaflet replaced leaflet 700 which seems identical to me. I can only surmise that there was an error in one or more of the Japanese characters and the error was corrected in this second printing.

7. The Homefront, Starvation, and Misery.

OWI Leaflet 411

This is one of the saddest leaflets that the OWI produced. It depicts a Japanese woman with one breast exposed on the front. At first you would think it to be of a sexual nature, but it is not. It is nostalgic, informative, and meant to lower the morale of the Japanese soldier. The back contains text in violet ink on a primrose paper, 5 x 8 inches in size. The text reads:

While you continue your futile resistance against our overwhelming might, your wives, sisters, and daughters back home are daily being reduced to prostitution. These are hard times for your farmers, and badly needed money is easily obtained by selling women to brothels. Factory workers, who now have money, are always eager to pay a few extra yen for a night's fun with women. When peace comes soon, times at home will be even worse. This will be true in all countries. Unless you are at home to care for your families, many of your dearest women will be forced to become prostitutes. Can you think without emotion of your wives, daughters, and sisters submitting to the lustful embraces of jeering workers. Don't throw away your lives in vain. Your families need you!

OWI Leaflet 412

The OWI’s forward base was on Saipan where many of these leaflets were printed. So, of course many of the leaflets mention Saipan. This is a beautiful photograph filled with emotion. It is meant to illustrate the kind treatment American forces accord civilians in occupied territories. It depicts an American marine sharing his food rations and water with a Japanese child found in a pillbox on Saipan. The text on the back in a blue ink is:

On the reverse side is a photograph taken on Saipan shortly after the battle there ended. The boy and the American Marine are apparently good friends, and everybody is happy.

OWI Leaflet 413

This leaflet is like the one directly above. It depicts an American MP interacting with the children and civilians of Saipan. The back is black, but the text on the front is:


These are the children of plantation workers on Saipan. Under American care they receive plenty of food and candy, and they are extremely happy.

These children will live to perpetuate their family names. They will help make the world a better place.

OWI leaflet 501

The next two leaflets we depict are very strange in that both seem to be miscut by the printers. We see borders on two sides of the leaflets, and it seems they have been cut in such a way as to leave the bottom and ride side bare. Yet, when we look at the back the message is perfectly centered. I can only assume that for some reason these leaflets were printed this way believing that the Japanese might pick them up out of curiosity.  Or the front and back were not properly registered, and it was thought that it was more important to get a perfectly centered message than a well centered image. The leaflet depicts Japanese prisoners being well fed by the Americans. The text is:

To Japanese Officers!

You may not wish to tell your men the stark fact that Japan is rapidly losing the war, but surely, you realize that your defeat is certain and inevitable. Despite the falsehoods told about American cruelty, you know that the Americans have never harmed Japanese soldiers who have come over to us. On the contrary, they have received food, water, clothing, and medical treatment. Face the facts and admit the truth! Don’t sacrifice the lives of your men needlessly!

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OWI Leaflet 515

Leaflet 514 above mentions Saipan and the good treatment afforded to the Japanese who chose to surrender. Leaflet 515 continues along that line and shows the civilians of Saipan and especially a number of children who have surrendered and adds in part:

Japanese Civilians!

On Saipan, in addition to officers and men, 18,125 civilians accepted the generosity of the American forces. These civilians were given food, water, clothing, and medical treatment. You will be treated similarly if you come over to us. Do not believe the false stories that you will be mistreated and killed. If you destroy yourselves, you die in vain!

Curiously, the Australian Intelligence Review mentions some Japanese reactions to surrender leaflets on Saipan. Here are some of the most interesting comments on the prisoner-of-war’s reactions:

At the time of the attack when the Americans started to land on Saipan, one POW was told by a Hawaiian-born Japanese soldier that the Americans would treat him well if he were captured because they are a humane people. This contradicted what the POW had previously heard that Americans had tortured Japanese prisoners captured on Guadalcanal and New Guinea but accorded with the POWs conception of what Americans were like. At the time, however, the thought of becoming a prisoner did not enter his head.

By 20 June, the POW's Battery was already in considerable difficulty. Cigarettes were almost all gone, water was strictly rationed, food was scarce, and they were constantly being harassed by bombing and shelling. On 20 June and again on 22 June they were showered with propaganda leaflets which the men picked them up chiefly from curiosity. One of the leaflets promised cigarettes, food, and water if they surrendered while the other told of senseless sacrifice of men at Attu, Tarawa, and Makin. The POW’s platoon leader, seeing that the men were picking up the leaflets, made an address in which he pointed out that leaflets were just another weapon in war's arsenal, that JAPAN had dropped similar propaganda on Allied troops in Malaya, the Dutch East Indies, and elsewhere, and that the men should disregard them since the Japanese fleet would soon bring reinforcements and supplies in abundance. He gave no orders for the disposal of the leaflets and POW pocketed his.

A large contingent of Japanese troops bivouacked at a farm. The farm had potatoes and the officers ate them all and gave the potatoes leaves to the men to eat. There was great dissatisfaction about this and bitter criticism especially as the potatoes were the only food available. Later they came across 300-400 Allied leaflets on the ground. The soldiers read them and passed them from hand to hand. The officers came around and issued an order that the leaflets were to be handed in and burned. The POW stated that after the men had read these leaflets their dissatisfaction became more evident, and everyone was talking about deserting and wondering whether the passage in the pamphlet about not being killed was the truth. The POW said that probably 50% of those to whom he spoke believed the pamphlet spoke the truth. Some of them were frank about the position and stated that after the treatment they had had in the Japanese Army it would be a good thing to be taken prisoner.

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Japanese Phrases

Perhaps one of the reasons that many civilians were saved is this card with phonetic phrases issued to Marine PFC Bernard Elissagaray for use in the battle of Saipan. Cards like this one probably saved many lives.

I should take a moment here to mention that the natives of Saipan were brainwashed by the Japanese to believe that Americans were blood-thirsty cannibals who would kill them and eat them. Some of this is told in The Conquering Tide, Ian W. Toll, W. W. Norton and Company, NY, 2015. He says in part:

The Americans were not human beings – they were something akin to demons or beasts. They were the “hairy ones” or the “Anglo-American demons.” They would rape the women and girls. They would crush civilians under the treads of their tanks. The Marines were especially dreaded. All Marine Corps recruits were compelled to murder their own parents before being inducted into the service.

Hundreds of civilians leapt from the sheer face of “Banzai Cliff” and plummeted into the rocks and surf. The sea was so thick with bodies that the ships could not help avoid running over them. The bodies sometimes fouled the ship’s screws and divers had to drop over the stern to pull them free.

Japanese-speaking units were sent to the front lines…and broadcast set phrases like “Don’t be afraid” and "Put your hands up.” The messages promised food…American planes dropped leaflets marked “Surrender Pass” which provided instructions on how to approach American forces.

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Leaflet 527

Several of the OWI leaflets have colorful illustrated borders. For instance, Leaflet 523 has red aircraft along its border. Leaflet 527 has Japanese in uniform along three borders on the front; the back has a factory, ships and aircraft. The message is intended to lower civilian morale and turn local inhabitants against Japanese soldiers. The leaflet asks a series of rhetorical questions meant to provoke thought in the Japanese mind. The text is long on front and back. Some of the text is:

To military men: Isn’t it well known that American production of war materials is the greatest in the world? Don’t you realize that American men are the best few and therefore the healthiest and strongest in the world? Doesn’t the American occupation of the Gilberts, Marshalls, Solomons, Admiralties, New Guinea, Marianas, Palau and the Philippines in one year remind you of these facts?

To Civilians: What obligations have you to the Japanese? Did you want to go to war? Do you want to continue a hopeless fight? Can the Japanese military protect you? Is this your war? Or, is it the war of the Japanese leaders who have dominated you for many decades?

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Leaflet 2008

This leaflet is designed to convince the Japanese that they cannot win the war and to lower morale and encourage surrender. It reverses the Japanese phrase hakko ichiu (“A world ruled by Japan”) and shows instead that Japan is being attacked from the eight corners of the world. The 5 x 8-inch leaflet gives the reader the true facts of Allied victories in the Pacific. Some of the text is:


The war in Europe is virtually won. The Allied forces from eight corner of the world will be directed toward Japan’s military clique. From Alaska; from America, From the Central Pacific; from the South Pacific; from Australia; from India; from Europe and from the North Atlantic.

Text on the back mentions recent Allied victories. It mentions the invasion of the Mariana Islands on 11 June 1944, the invasion of the Palau Group on 16 September 1944, and the regular bombing of Japanese forces on the Philippine Islands.

OWI Leaflet 2093

PWB leaflet 27-J-1, dropped by MacArthur’s propagandists in the Philippine Islands depicted a drawing of U.S. troops walking from defeated Germany to Japan. This OWI leaflet uses the same general theme but instead of a cartoon, it is a cleverly contrived photograph.

This leaflet was printed late in the war to inform the Japanese of their manpower losses during the war. The text is very long so I will just translate a small part. The leaflet tells the Japanese of their losses, then reminds them that the Americans and allies are gathering for the invasion of Japan, and finally tells them to “put away the sword,” and together we will rebuild a democratic Japan together. The front of the leaflet depicts symbolically American forces walking from island to island toward Japan with bombers overhead and an invasion fleet following behind. The Text on the front is:

Stepping Stones to Japan

The text on the back is very long as I have said above, so I will severely edit for brevity:


On SAIPAN, 26,000 Japanese soldiers suffered an honorable defeat. On IWO JIMA, 23,000 Japanese officers and men died a tragic death. In the PHILIPPINES, more than 410,000 Japanese warriors are dead. And on OKINAWA, which fell on 21 June, a total of 105,000 officers and men in the Japanese forces perished in battle.

The Japanese armed forces, which rely on spiritual strength, can in no wise compete with the Americans whose combat strength is inexhaustible…The Americans will therefore relentlessly carry out the invasion of the Japanese homeland…Those American heroes who have already beaten Germany in the European theater are all going to press closely in upon you…We are Americans whose motto is humanitarianism. We believe we have greater love of mankind than do you Japanese. Therefore, if you put away the sword, our forces will joyfully cooperate in the rebuilding of a democratic Japan.

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Leaflet 2102

On this leaflet the same eight American soldiers are seen stepping on the various formely Japanese-controlled islands on their way to the Japanese homeland with dozens of bombers overhead. The generals had told the Japanese people that each time an island was lost it was “just another island.” Now, the Americans point out that Japan itself is “just another island.” OWI files indicate that 150,000 leaflets were printed. Some of the text is:


When 25,000 Japanese could not hold Saipan, the militarists said “Saipan is just another island.”

When 24,000 Japanese could not hold Iwo Jima, the militarists said “Iwo Jima is just another island.”

When 120,000 Japanese could not hold Okinawa, the militarists said “Okinawa is just another island.”

Those islands were first visited by aircraft, just as Japan has been blasted by aircraft. The bombings were warnings of the fate about to be visited on those islands.

Remember that Japan too is now just another island, facing the same fate.

7. Appeal to non-Japanese inhabitants, calls for sabotage, and warnings to locals to stay clear of bombing targets.

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You must be careful to always give the absolute truth. Any obvious lie or exaggeration will lead to a loss in credibility. Never use the word surrender (kosan or kofuku) or prisoner of war (horyo or foryo) in any propaganda. We must help the Japanese to “save face” and make their surrender palatable. The faces of Japanese prisoners must never be used in propaganda. They would rather die than have it known that they surrendered. No food, medicine or tobacco should be dropped on the Japanese without the permission of the Commander in Chief Pacific.

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OWI Leaflet 810

OWI Leaflets 810 and 811 are both safe conduct passes that instruct the Japanese how to come over to the American side. 810 is designed to affect a rapid surrender of Japanese troops and is entitled “Lifesaving guarantee.” Leaflet 811 is designed to induce the surrender of the war weary, hungry soldiers and civilians through the logical temptation and assurance offered in the promise of good treatment, food, clothing and tobacco, and is entitled “Lifesaving leaflet.” There are some slight changes in the wording. As stated in the preceding paragraph, neither mentions the word surrender. Both are printed with colorful red, white and blue stripes that make them visible for some distance. It was important that the passes be clearly marked because suspicious American soldiers were known to shoot first and ask questions later. Both leaflets have the instructions in English on one side and in Japanese on the other. They are written in very simple Japanese that could be understood by all enemy troops. Leaflet 810 is oversized at 8 x 10 inches, leaflet 811 is more standard at 5 x 8 inches. The text of leaflet 810 is:

The bearer has ceased all resistance. Treat him in accordance with international law. Take him to the nearest commanding officer. C-in-C Allied Forces.

Life Saving Guarantee

1. The American forces will aid all who use this card.

2. Using this, you will receive good treatment.

How to use this card

1. Come slowly toward the American lines with your hands raised high above your head carrying only this card.

2. Come one by one. Do not come in groups.

3. Men must wear only loincloths. We will provide clothing.

4. You must not approach American positions at night.

5. This card may be used by anyone - Japanese or Korean, soldiers or civilians.

6. Those who do not have cards may come to us if they follow the above instructions.

There was an interesting occurrence in regard to instruction number 3. Stars and Stripes of 29 June 1945 reports that an Okinawan woman surrendered to U. S. infantry forces naked, believing that the instructions also applied to her.

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OWI Leaflet 810 used as “Short Snorter”

The invasion of Iwo Jima was a naval affair where the combat forces were U.S. Marines of the V Amphibious Corps. However, the ultimate success of this operation resulted from the cooperation and support of the Army headquarters and commands of the Pacific Ocean Areas. To record the training of the troops and its logistic help to the Navy, the Headquarters, United States Army Forces in the Pacific Ocean Areas, attached an observer element to the Intelligence Section (G2) of the V Corps during the Iwo Jima campaign. They filed a report that detailed the administrative, training, and logistic duties that made the Iwo Jima invasion a success. The Army also had the responsibility of garrisoning Iwo Jima after the Marines took command of the Island.

During wartime it is quite common for combat troops to prepare “short snorters.” These are usually banknotes of a foreign nation they are fighting in. They know that as the years go by and memory fades they will not remember their old comrades, so each man signs the banknote and it is saved for posterity. We show an example of banknote leaflet short snorter 2034 later in this article. In this case it appears that the Office of War Information safe conduct pass 810 was used as a short snorter on Iwo Jima by an American who found it on the ground and had 26 members of his unit sign it. Some of the information on the leaflet is:

IWO JIMA - 19 FEB 0900 - 16 MARCH 1995

Attached to C-2 Section. Fifth Amphibious Corps as G-2 Observer HUSAFPOA

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OWI Leaflet 811

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OWI Leaflet 402

I add this leaflet only because it seems to break all the rules so carefully crafted by the Americans. We have seen that the word “surrender” was to be avoided and the term was always to be “I cease resistance.” There is a reason for this apparent error. The leaflet is aimed at conscripted workers used by the Japanese military, not the soldiers themselves. The data sheet explains that the use of the word “surrender” is not harmful because the leaflet is for workers who have not been indoctrinated by the military to fight to the death. The text on the back is

Conscripted Workers!

Wherever American forces have gone we have treated civilians who joined us humanely. We have fed them and given them medical attention. We will treat you the same way when you join us.

We are telling you this because very soon overwhelming American forces will land on this island. Countless ships, planes and tanks will support them. Your own troops will be outnumbered five to one and your planes ten to one. They will not be able to protect you.

Leave the battle area as soon as we land and then join us as soon as possible. You are civilians, not troops! Do not throw away your lives in vain!

The OWI Propaganda Newspapers

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The Hawaii Weekly News #2502

The OWI produced many different newspapers for both the Japanese and their allies and occupied nations. Among other newspapers printed by the OWI on Saipan were the Mariana News and the Korean-language Chosen Weekly News and Chosen Liberty Weekly. It believed that there was a distrust of official news in Japan and that an airborne newspaper, similar in format to Japanese newspapers, would be eagerly read.

The above newspaper was printed as a single sheet, 8 x 11 inches. It depicts The Marines raising the flag on Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima. Note that this is not the famous Joe Rosenthal photograph. At the time, nobody knew that the Rosenthal picture of the flag-raising would be known around the world. This picture depicts the first flag-raising atop Mount Suribachi, February 23, 1945. The Marines are Hank Hansen (without helmet), Boots Thomas (seated), John Bradley (behind Thomas) Phil Ward (hand visible grasping pole), Jim Michaels (with carbine) and Chuck Lindberg (behind Michaels). The photo was taken by Lou Lowery at 1000, 23 February 1945. Some of the stories in the propaganda newspaper are; Cologne captured by the American First Army, U.S. Ninth Army racing toward Coblenz, the First Army crosses the Rhine River, the Battle for Luzon almost over and the British are nearing Mandalay. 

These newspapers mostly targeted different people in different languages. Each of the single sheet newspapers had text on both sides, and usually a photo on the front and a cartoon on the back. Most of the stories told of the U.S. and its allies’ victories. What is surprising is that they would sometimes tell of their losses. It was part of telling the entire truth and gaining readership and believers by showing that they were willing to talk about their defeats as well as their victories.

Some of the stories in selected copies of the HAWAII WEEKLY NEWS.
2500 – Carrier based planes strike Tokyo in two-day surprise raid.
2501 – B-29s strike Tokyo for second time.
2503 – Surprise landing made on Mindanao.
2504 – Battle of Iwo Jima ends – 4,189 Marines killed.
2505 – American warships pound Okinawa.
2507 – President Roosevelt dies.

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The Chosen Liberty Weekly 4500

This Korean-language OWI propaganda newspaper was a slap in the face to the Japanese who had forbidden the use of the Korean language. The above newspaper was printed as a single sheet, 8 x 11 inches. The masthead also depicts a map of Korea. The photograph on the front depicts U.S. Marines landing on Iwo Jima. Other stories are; U.S. carrier-based aircraft strike Tokyo in a surprise two-day raid, U.S. forces recapture Bataan, U.S. submarines sink 25 Japanese vessels, and U.S. troops recapture Corregidor.

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The Chosen Weekly News 4507

We already show this newspaper above, but this is one of the more historical editions. It depicts President Roosevelt and tells the Koreans of his death at Warm Springs. Notice that the Americans now call the newspaper the Chosen Weekly News instead of the Chosen Liberty Weekly. Perhaps the names were interchangeable. Some of the other stories are: US bomber strikes close 10 Japanese factories; US B-29s are over Tokyo in great strength; American forces occupy Taugen Island in the Ryukyus chain; and US troops land on Jolo Island in the Sulu archipelago.

Some of the stories in selected copies of the Korean language CHOSEN LIBERTY WEEKLY, aka CHOSEN WEEKLY NEWS.
4500 – Marines land on Iwo Jima, U.S forces capture Bataan.
4502 – U.S. gains in Iwo Jima fight.
4503 – U.S. Carrier Midway to be launched.
4504 – U.S. subs sink 15 Japanese ships, battle for Iwo Jima ends.
4505 – U.S. planes bomb Formosa power plant, B-29s bomb Japanese home island.
4506 – U.S. 10th Army lands on southern Okinawa, B-29 bomb Honshu.
4507 – President Roosevelt dies, B-29s bomb Tokyo.
4514 – B-29s set Yokohama on fire, two B-29s lost over Yokohama.

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Makoto (Truth) 2019

The above newspaper was printed as a single sheet, 8 x 11 inches. It depicts two U.S. Army Air Force B-29 Super Fortresses (Mr. B-San to many Japanese) flying over the mountains of China. Some of the stories are; American bombing raids on Formosa, the D-Day invasion of Europe, American aircraft production, and the surrender of Japanese prisoners on the island of Blak. More interesting, to win the trust of the Japanese there is an article about Yasuo Kuniyoshi winning the first prize in the annual Carnegie Institute exhibition of painting. According to the OWI report Effectiveness of Leaflets, this newspaper leaflet was produced in Hawaii. It is unclear if that means "printed" in Hawaii. Many items produced in Hawaii were sent to Saipan where they were actually printed.

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World’s Weekly News 3501

This Chinese-language newspaper was aimed at people on the mainland, and particularly the occupied areas of China, Formosa and Hainan. It was published as a single sheet, 8 x 11-inches. A literary form of Chinese was used rather than a colloquial form because it was believed that a greater number of Chinese can read the literary style. The newspaper depicts a B-29 Super Fortress flying over Tokyo on the front. Some of the articles are; the Japanese will make China a battlefield for the remainder of the war, B-29s bomb Tokyo again, U.S. strikes Luzon twice in two days and the American Sixth Army just 28 miles from Manila.

Some of the stories in selected copies of the Chinese language WORLD’S WEEKLY NEWS for China, Formosa, and Hainan.
3500 – B-29s bomb Nagoya, the Burma Road is open.
3501 – B-29s bomb China again, American 6th Army 28 miles from Manila
3502 – B-29s strike Kobe, American submarine Tang sunk.

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Mariana News 2523

This Japanese-language newspaper was printed to give the Japanese homeland true news of Allied progress on all fronts. It was printed as a single sheet, 8 x 11-inches in size. This may be the most impressive single copy of the newspaper because it depicts Japanese ship under attack by carrier aircraft on the front, and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on the back. Some of the other stories are; Japan’s militarists resist peace terms, President Truman announces the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, British fleet attacks Malaya, Kweilin recaptured, and the Japanese routed at Borneo. OWI files indicate that 50,000 newspapers were printed. According to the OWI report Effectiveness of Leaflets, this newspaper leaflet was produced in Saipan.

Some of the stories in selected copies of the MARIANA NEWS.
2514 – B-29s set fire to Yokohama, the heart of Tokyo burned out by incendiary raids.
2515 – Osaka in flames from incendiary raids.
2517 – Okinawa in U.S. hands, General Bruckner killed on Okinawa.
2518 – Thousands of Japanese surrender on Okinawa.
2519 – Philippines liberated.
2520 – 1,800 planes bomb Japanese homeland.
2522 – 2000 Army/Navy planes bomb Japan.
2523 – President Truman announced Hiroshima bomb dropped.

The OWI Psychological Warfare textbook explains the need for the newspapers:

For Japanese troops in combat areas and in other places as well as the mainland proper, such newspapers will not only be interesting because of the reading matter they provide, but will be effective because they present information which they cannot receive in any other way. It is a general fact that Japanese troops in many areas previously attacked by American forces had little information concerning events other than vague generalizations about “glorious triumphs” passed out to them by their officers. In the homeland such newspaper should prove effective because, although the Japanese civilian does read newspapers and listens to the radio, the picture of the war which is presented to him is far different than the true picture. Thus, this small newspaper is one of the best means of destroying Japanese faith in Japan’s present leaders, for substantially lowering morale, and for presenting the truth.

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Rakkasan News No. 18

Notice that a great number of these newspapers feature the American B-29 Super Fortress heavy bomber.

After the war, Masjiro Kawabushi, Chief of the Foreign Affair Bureau of the Home industry said:

The Mariana News was effective. So was the Rakkasan News [Parachute News, printed by PWB in Manila, not an OWI product]. Newspapers were better than leaflets in results achieved.

On 17 July 1945, the Associated Press released a photograph of the Rakkasan News issue number 10 bearing a photo of President Harry Truman with the caption:

MILLION PROPAGANDA SHEETS DROPPED DAILY ON JAPAN. Propaganda leaflets, similar to the ones above bearing President Truman’s photo, are being dropped on Japan at the rate of a million daily by Super Fortresses, stressing that the Japanese can have peace with honor, even under unconditional surrender. Quotations from President Truman’s VE Day speech on surrender are included. (AP Wirephoto from Army Air Forces).

For the Japanese, the most disheartening issue of the Mariana News was probably number 2523. This issue featured a large photograph of the Hiroshima atomic bomb explosion and a series of stories of Japanese defeats in every area. For instance, it explains that Japan's militarists have rejected Allied peace terms and as a result, President Harry S. Truman dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Truman says that he only dropped the bomb after Japan rejected the Potsdam peace terms. Russia has declared war on Japan. Molotov states that since Japan has rejected the Potsdam terms, peace overtures are meaningless. The island of Kweilin has been taken by the Americans. The Japanese have been routed in Borneo. Japanese casualties are mounting in the South Pacific front and the Japanese have suffered tremendous losses in Burma. It is no wonder that after reading such news the Japanese were ready to surrender.

FM 3-05.301, Psychological Operations Process Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures mentions the proper use of propaganda newspapers:

Newspapers and magazines are an excellent means of transmitting a PSYOP message, as they are durable and lasting. Therefore, PSYOP Soldiers should use them as a means to disseminate messages of enduring importance, such as “the long-term stability of your country hinges upon a representative government—vote in the upcoming elections.”

Newspapers produced by PSYOP should provide timely, truthful news and entertainment in a format familiar to the Target Audience. Articles should include current events, meaningful stories, and leisure articles. The persuasive messages contained within should convey enduring themes that directly or indirectly incorporate U.S. national objectives in an effort to achieve long-term behavior changes in the Target Audience. Stories, such as those that exemplify positive accomplishments of the Allied forces, should be balanced with human interest and some entertainment features. PSYOP messages should be clear with an identifiable source. News stories must be as unbiased as possible. Credibility is critical.

Presentation of our Message

The small propaganda newspaper is one of the best means for destroying Japanese faith in Japan’s present leaders, for lowering morale, and for presenting the truth. A leaflet is written, translated, and checked by language officers. Each leaflet is shown to at least ten Japanese prisoners for consideration and comment. In addition to leaflets we use recordings and broadcasts. A three-minute or five-minute recording may express an idea more extensively and more urgently than can be done on a leaflet.

Besides broadcasting the “Voice of America” from Saipan, the radio also served as a rescue beacon for injured B-29 bombers. In one week, four B-29s used the radio beam to find their way home. By the end of April 1945, 20 B-29s were saved. The cost of one B-29 bomber was more than the entire radio section’s material and labor.

OWI Activities 

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The Saipan OWI offices were built by the Navy Seabees.
Notice the open leaflet bomb in front of the desk.

The Honolulu branch of the OWI cooperates fully with CINCPAC – CINCPOA. Weekly directives and special guidance are received from Washington coordinating the propaganda in all theaters. The OWI is the official voice of the U. S. Government in overseas radio. The OWI has a powerful short-wave transmitter on Oahu. It often transmits programs that originate in San Francisco. A long-wave station is on Saipan that can broadcast to the Japanese homeland.

The OWI Leaflet Newsletter adds more about the radio operations:

OWI directed its work against two main targets – Japanese troops in battle areas, and the Japanese home front. Our main psychological warfare weapons were radio and leaflets. The year 1944 through April, 1945 saw many changes in OWI Pacific operations. Radio facilities and reaching power multiplied by the thousands through the addition of 6 new transmitters in California and the erection of a 100 KW transmitter on Hawaii and a 50 KW transmitter on Saipan. The Saipan transmitter is medium wave, and through it we were enabled to throw into Japan a signal as powerful as Japan's own domestic stations.

It was estimated that six or seven million Japanese have radio sets capable of picking up the Saipan broadcasts under normal conditions, even in the event of bad atmospherics or intentional interference by Japanese transmitters, the Saipan broadcasts were still audible a significant portion of the time. The important point was that within this group of potential listeners there, were Japanese of all economic and social strata. Although radio receivers are concentrated in urban centers, principally among business and commercial people, rural dwellers possess more powerful sets since they are remote from Japanese transmitting centers. Thus, both urban and rural elements comprised the potential audience for the Saipan broadcasts.

The new Saipan and Honolulu transmitters began operating on 26 December 1944. The first evidence Tokyo gave of knowledge of them was given on a Tokyo Home Service broadcast on 1 January 1945. This was the announcement:

Please turn off your radio as soon as this broadcast is over. Please do this to save some electric power and to, keep radio, sets in service longer. With “Let’s turn off the radio as soon as the broadcast is over,” as a watchword please carry out the request from tonight without fail. Please remember this.

The aim seems to have been, quite apart from the announced one of avoiding wear and tear on radio sets, to get all of them turned off at the time the OWI transmitters were at their highest peak of efficiency. Apparently, though, Tokyo didn't trust listeners to turn off their radios after the last broadcast, for on April first, in spite of the wear and tear motive, it was announced that thereafter there would be a full evening of news, entertainment and music.

To be sure, they were doing everything they could. The Japanese tried jamming the station, but they were reckoning without the B-29s. When B-29s appeared over Japan, the Japanese stations immediately went off the air, leaving it clear for undisturbed reception of American programs. Then, to complete the failure, the strong beam of the transmitters guided the B-29s back to base.

FIGHTING FACTS, No. 23, 5 March 1945, titled "The Invisible War," was a magazine for soldiers only that explained U.S. PSYWAR techniques. Regarding American OWI propaganda radio to Japan. it said:

OWI Radio War in the Pacific. Right now, OWI is operating about a dozen powerful short-wave transmitters on the West Coast, beaming broadcasts round the clock to all parts of the Far East. Curving with the earth's surface, one powerful beam shoots out of San Francisco, toward Japan, then moves on into China and drops into India. Another beam heads for the Philippines, then drops down to southern Malaya and southeast Asia. A few months ago, OWI opened a powerful 100,000-watt short-wave station Honolulu, mostly for broadcasts to Japan. This station relays some of the West Coast programs and originates some of its own as well. More recently, another new station was set up at Saipan. Saipan is a 50,000-watt medium-wave station which means that it can be heard on any ordinary radio set in the Japanese homeland. Before that, only government officials and wealthy people could listen in to the truth from America because they are about the only Japanese who own short wave sets.

Two of the Four OWI Radio Antennas on Saipan

Richard Hubert mentions the transmitters and antennae in a report entitled The OWI Saipan Operation. Three copies are filed in the National Archives. The fourth and final copy was found under his bed in 1982. Some of his comments are:

The area assigned for the OWI transmitter site, on the West Highway, in about one quarter mile square, and adjoins the beach. The receiving station is located on the opposite side of the highway, immediately at the north end of the transmitter property. The receiving antenna system extends over an area now also being used as open storage…Erection of the four 250-feet Blaw-Knox towers was by the 152nd Engineer Battalion. They were completed on 24 January 1945. A decision had been made to locate a standard wave radio transmitter as close as possible to Japan. The special antenna of the 50 kilowatt Doherty, Western Electric transmitter aimed an estimated 230,000 watt signal to Japan… B-29s bombing Japan indicated the OWI transmissions were strong over the main islands.

Technical Aspects 

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Loading the Leaflet Bomb

Propaganda is the means by which warfare is directed against the mind and will of the enemy. Although there are more effective means, hand dropping leaflets over the enemy is still a viable option. Low-flying artillery spotter planes are very effective in this mission. Five-hundred leaflets are tied in a bundle, Four bundles are made into a package. One man can open a hatch and throw out a package without assistance. When anti-aircraft fire is present, low flying leaflet dropping is impractical. If the aircraft cannot fly safely below 3000 feet, then a leaflet bomb should be used.   


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155mm Howitzer Leaflet Shell


There is no leaflet shell. However, the standard American 105mm Base Ejection smoke shell (M2 and M2-A1) and the British “25 pounder” Base Ejection smoke shell have been found suitable for propaganda distribution. The shells should burst directly over the enemy position. Leaflets have been found to have the greatest effect on enemy morale if used immediately after a heavy artillery concentration. They should be primarily surrender or safe conduct leaflets.


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The British 25-Pounder Leaflet Shell 


Leaflet shell cases should be clearly marked with a large letter “P.” The letter should is red if the propaganda leaflets are for use against troops, white if the leaflets are for use against civilians. Leaflets are normally rolled at the printing plant, but they can be rolled in the field. The number of leaflets that can be inserted varies between 175 and 300 depending on the quality of paper used. With a light breeze and the leaflets leaving the shell at a height of 300 to 400 feet, the area covered by the leaflets s approximately 150 yards in diameter. The maximum range with the TM 54 fuse is 8,300 yards. The maximum range with the TM 67 fuse is 12,000 yards.


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Example of Shell Blast Crinkled safe conduct leaflet fired at German troops

Ejection usually results in crinkling, tearing and scorching of the leaflets but the percentage is so small that it is not enough to detract from the effectiveness of the shell as a method of distribution.


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The M-15 and M-16 Leaflet Bombs

No bomb has been devised solely for the purpose of distributing propaganda leaflets. One can modify the M-26 Flare Case into the “bomb, leaflet 100-pound size T1,” the M-15 Adapter Cluster Case into the “bomb, leaflet 100-pound size T2,” or the M-16 Adapter Cluster Case into the “bomb, leaflet 500-pound size T3.”  The bombs should burst from 700-1000 feet above enemy occupied areas. The weight of the M-26 loaded with leaflets is approximately 65 pounds. The leaflets must be rolled to completely fill the casing. If the leaflets are 5 x 8 inches, the M-26 case (T1 bomb) can hold approximately 10,500 leaflets. The fuse should be set to cause a discharge at approximately 1,000 feet above and upwind of the target. If the leaflets are 5 x 8 inches, the M-15 case (T2 bomb) can hold approximately 7,500 leaflets and weights approximately 55 pounds. The M16 case (T3 bomb) filled with leaflets weighs approximately 175 pounds and will hold about 30,000 leaflets.

In regard to the leaflets and bombs, perhaps we should stop here for a moment and study some of the problems faced by the new propaganda outfit trying to get started on Saipan. The comments are by Lieutenant Robert Morris, the Navy officer on Admiral Nimitz’s staff in charge of the entire project. I have edited his comments for brevity:

I met only one OSS agent in the forward area, a pleasant fellow whose work consisted of spinning some “black” propaganda messages over the transmitter which the OWI maintained on Saipan. The OWI, on the other hand, was all over the place. It had a large office in Honolulu…printing presses, great supplies of precious paper, loudspeakers, public address systems and various other field devices…

In the first days of 1945, I devoted my energies toward setting up a working unit on Saipan. We had two language officers, a yeoman striker and three gunner’s mates. The OWI at the time had about six technicians operating its Saipan radio transmitter. With the establishment of our advanced unit, the staff was more than doubled, including a printer and three assistants.

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Navy Seabees Build the OWI Headquarters on Saipan – 1944

Convincing American forces of the merit of our mission turned out to be a major headache. It was struggle to get the island command to consent to our establishing ourselves there. It was a struggle to get a Quonset hut. It was a struggle to get personnel to assist us. It was a struggle to locate suitable bomb cases for the leaflets, and to convince the air forces to carry the leaflets.

Ordnance experts had improvised a leaflet bomb…The bomb was unsatisfactory in many respects, principally in that it did not carry enough leaflets. The bomb case model was also obsolete, and there were not enough cases in the theater to supply a fraction of our needs. There was always a shortage of paper. We also needed people to wrap the leaflets into rolls to be inserted in the bomb cases.

We found that the Navy had a 500-pound butterfly bomb case in their ammunition dumps. It was 5-6 times as large as the bomb case we had been using. Whenever I discovered them I was off at once to persuade the officer in charge of the ammunition depot of the merit of our project. Somehow we always managed to have enough bomb cases to keep the leaflets falling. The personnel problem was solved by using Japanese prisoners to perform the labor. The rolling of leaflets into circular coils of exact dimensions to fit snugly into the bomb case called for exacting and rather extensive labor. The Japanese prisoners assigned to us numbered 12 and we kept them busy all day.

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The OWI PV-1 "Polly" Aircraft

A PV-1 aircraft with a special loud speaker system providing audible speech from 6,000 feet altitude was available for day or night harassment of Japanese troops if atmospheric condition were right. The loudspeakers were located just aft of the rear exit.

Four PV-1s were built, but only one was sent to the Pacific. It had a Navy crew of three officers; a pilot, co-pilot and a propaganda officer to handle the sound gear. In early embarrassing tests the loudspeakers failed from 2,000 feet and later blew a fuse. The aircraft was finally sent to the Marshall Islands.  On 15 February 1945, Polly made its initial 15-minute broadcast over Wotje Atoll at an altitude of 4,500 feet. The aircraft played “My Blue Heaven” and “Red River Valley” and broadcast a “hopelessness” message that had been recorded in Hawaii by a Japanese prisoner-of-war. It took heavy fire and lost an engine. About the middle of April, Polly left the Marshall islands and deployed to Okinawa. Immediately after the Okinawa campaign Polly was replaced by four PB4Y2s Privateers, the Navy version of the Army B-24 Liberator.

A few days after the Japanese surrender the new loudspeaker aircraft flew over Tokyo and played the song, “I Surrender Dear.”

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Loudspeaker Team

The loudspeaker is the most effective method of reaching troops in the jungle and in caves. Loud speakers can be mounted on jeeps, trucks, tanks and small crafts. It is suggested that the most powerful reproducers be used. The louder the better since sound is absorbed in the jungle. In some cases personnel 300 yards away could not hear the speakers in the jungle.

Of course, the Japanese concept of enemy loudspeaker messages and leaflets is different than that of the Americans. Master Sergeant John Blair talks about the Guadalcanal battle in an article entitled “A Japanese Guadalcanal Dairy.”

On 16 January 1943, a Japanese soldier reports:

I heard one of the enemy talking busily in Japanese over a loud speaker. He was probably telling us to come out. What fools the enemy are! The Japanese Army will stick it out to the end. This position must be defended with our lives.

A day later on 17 January 1943 we find the entry:

According to the enemy broadcast, today they are going to attack our position. However, we have no fear. I went to the battalion headquarters in the morning and saw enemy propaganda sheets which were found in First Lieutenant Kasahara's area. The writing was very poor.


A Japanese POW volunteers to broadcast surrender appeals to his Comrades in the Jungle
Saipan - 1945

On the Island of Saipan an American Army Technical Sergeant holds a microphone as a Japanese
prisoner-of-war tells his hidden comrades of the good treatment he has received at the hands of the Americans

A loudspeaker jeep broadcasts surrender messages to Japanese holdouts in caves.
Saipan -1945

Japanese troops surrendering in response to leaflets and loudspeaker broadcasts.
Saipan – 1945


Japanese weapons surrendered by holdouts in the caves.
Saipan - 1945

Now that we know the philosophy and tools of the OWI, we need to study exactly how the system worked. The following data is gleaned from a number of lectures the students received during their training.

The OWI separates propaganda into two priorities. The first is the American story, the people, their aims, their actions and how they are contributing to the war effort. The second is to always tell the truth. Constant repetition of the truth is the OWI way of news and information broadcasts. The OWI had no broadcast capability until November 1942, when the government officially took over by contractual agreement the short wave stations throughout the country. The OWI obtained station KGEI in San Francisco at that time. However, using commercial radio, as part of the old Coordinator of Information (COI) organization, they first broadcast on 8 December 1941 in Japanese.

The OWI was formed primarily to eliminate confusion and chaos, which came from a number of different wartime agencies competing for radio time and space in newspapers. A single agency was needed to bring order to the overseas propaganda campaign. Robert Sherwood became the head of the Overseas Branch. The function of the Outpost people was different in different areas. In neutral countries, they are purely informational. In Allied countries, their duties were informational and psychological warfare. In the Pacific Theater of Operations, there was an office in Honolulu and in Sidney, Australia. A radio station broadcast from Brisbane. The OWI used the Australian transmitters to broadcast to the Philippines. There was an office in Chungking, China.

Inside the organization, propaganda analysis takes the product of enemy radio and turns it into material the OWI can use. Propaganda analysis deals primarily with the enemy' radio output, Some 80,000 words a day are broadcast from Japan and Japanese controlled stations and are monitored by us. Operations Intelligence prepares long-range material. One of the Pacific problems is the sixteen-hour time difference between San Francisco and the target cities in the Orient like Tokyo. That means that most of the programs are taped here and broadcast during enemy peak hours. Some foreign language speakers are easier to find than others. Good Japanese and Burmese readers are difficult to locate, Thai readers are almost impossible. Broadcasts are also made in Chinese, French, Dutch and Malay. In some cases, we hire people with almost no skills simply because they speak the languages. We record most of the Japanese programs in Denver where the agency has a number of Japanese employees.

How do we produce a radio program? The Contact Department finds various notables and takes opinions or quotes from them that will appear on the show. The Special Events Department goes to newsworthy events and records them. Radio writers in the Features Unit combine the stories to produce a radio tape that is shipped to the Outposts in foreign countries. The Outpost programs are mostly regularly programmed. The radio shows are saved for six months since they might be used more than once. There are 15 radio studios producing records. The OWI also “borrows” from regular commercial broadcasting. Washington sets the editorial policy, and all shows are censored by the Navy. The OWI produces about 850 programs a week.

Apparently the American propaganda broadcasts were not effective. A post-war OWI survey of the Japanese asked:

During the war did you ever hear about any anti-Japanese radio broadcasts? What did you think of them? What did you hear about them?

Research indicated that only 2 percent of those questioned said that they had personally heard an American propaganda broadcast. The reason is simple. Short-wave listening was barred in Japan and all such sets had been taken in by the police. The Saipan radio, operating long-wave, while audible in some localities, was as a rule effectively jammed by Japanese stations. The same informants asserted that it had no effect on ordinary citizens. One added:

One or two people may have heard the program, but very few.

The same point was made by a Christian minister in Kyoto:

Since all the short-wave sets in Japan were confiscated by the government and the former possessors severely punished, the Japanese people had no way to hear the broadcasts from America. I believe only a few officials had sets powerful enough to get the broadcasts from overseas.

The Japanese seem not to have feared the American radio to any great extent. They did monitor San Francisco and Hawaii, but made no special effort to study them in any depth. Sukehido Kabayama of the Foreign Office believed that Japan had almost completely jammed Saipan radio. He believed that some small areas of Japan might be able to pick up Saipan radio on occasion, but in general the transmissions were believed to be blocked. The official belief was that Allied radio had no effect on the Japanese people prior to Guadalcanal. After the fall of Saipan, the Japanese began to believe that the war could be lost.

Kabayama thought that the best propaganda radio came from New Delhi and Chungking. The American Hawaii radio broadcasts lacked appeal in that statements contained too much challenge and not enough persuasion. One interesting point made was that because of the speed with which the results of bomb raids were broadcast and the disruption of Japanese communications, the government sometimes heard of the results of raids from San Francisco before they were notified by local authorities.

George Mitiushio of the English Section of the Japan Broadcasting Corporation said that KGEI from San Francisco was considered the most important American radio station. However, the Foreign Office rarely let them hear the American broadcasts and as a result they had no idea what the enemy was saying. He also downplayed Radio Saipan saying, "It came in infrequently because of the jamming."

Most OWI agents scheduled for overseas duty were first sent to the University of California where they were given a course in history, regional geography, and racial customs. They were taught various forms of propaganda, and just as we teach today, they were told that, “The best media for propaganda is the human voice. The closer you get to the people you want to convince, the better it is.” The OWI did not censor itself. It simply worked under certain guidelines. As mentioned earlier, the U. S. Navy was in charge of censoring OWI output. One lecturer mentions that he is so programmed not to use the word “radar” that he even has difficulty in mentioning it to the students. If you have been trained never to point a weapon at a human in training, you will understand his difficulty. Even knowing that the weapon is empty, the old taboos kick in.

The OWI coordinated their propaganda with the British. It traded information with the British ministry of Information in exchange for their material. That makes sense because the Allies needed to present a unified message that could not be misinterpreted. An example is a case where the British are asking partisans to rise up while the United States is telling them to lay low until an invasion. Plans came in the form of a Central Directive, a main central policy document approved by a Washington board made up of representatives from the OWI, State, War and Navy Departments, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. There is also guidance. An example is the treatment of the Emperor of Japan. The guidance was that the Emperor was a historic institution and it does no good to insult him. The best way to create difficulty for Japan was to spread the idea that the Emperor had been betrayed by the military clique and fooled into leading his nation into war. Another concept was not to argue with the enemy. If we went on the defensive, that meant that the enemy was on the offensive. Our propagandists were not to get into a shouting match with the Japanese.

In Military Review, March-April 2005, Dr. Montgomery McFate discusses the WWII PSYOP treatment of Emperor Hirohito in an article entitled “Anthropology and Counterinsurgency: The Strange Story of their Curious Relationship.” He says in part:

In 1943, Benedict became the head of the Basic Analysis Section of the Bureau of Overseas Intelligence of the Office of War Information. Benedict also undertook research on Japanese personality and culture, the effect of which cannot be overstated. Near the end of the war, senior military leaders and U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt were convinced the Japanese were “culturally incapable of surrender” and would fight to the last man. Benedict and other OWI anthropologists were asked to study the view of the emperor in Japanese society. The ensuing OWI position papers convinced Roosevelt to leave the emperor out of the conditions of surrender (rather than demanding unconditional surrender as he did of dictators Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini).