Book of Secret Files Reveals KGB Plans to Release Radioactive Material in Tokyo Bay
MosNews | September 20 2005
The Soviet security service, the KGB, considered releasing radioactive material in Tokyo Bay in the late 1960s, which it hoped would be blamed on U.S. submarines and thereby damage Japanese-U.S. relations, according to The Mitrokhin Archive II, published by former KGB archivist Vasili Mitrokhin.
“The Mitrokhin Archive II” reveals several sabotage plans by KGB officers to sour relations between Tokyo and Washington, Japan Today wrote in a review on Tuesday. The book also discloses that Japanese Foreign Ministry officials, journalists and politicians on the right and left were helping the Soviet Union during the 1960s and 1970s.
Mitrokhin was a senior KGB archivist between 1948 and 1984. But he smuggled sensitive foreign intelligence to his home and took it with him when he defected to Britain in 1992. The first volume of his archives was published in 1999. He died in 2004.
In the book, which was co-written by historian Christopher Andrew, Mitrokhin reveals that in 1969, KGB officers in Tokyo considered a plan to scatter radioactive material in Tokyo Bay in the expectation that it would be blamed by the Japanese public on nuclear submarines based at the U.S. naval base in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture.
The plan was, however, vetoed by senior officers, who feared it would be difficult to obtain U.S. radioactive material, and sources from other countries could show links to Moscow, the book says.
The book also discloses a plan to instruct a Japanese agent to leave a book bomb in the American Cultural Center in Tokyo in October 1965 at the time of demonstrations against the Vietnam War. In order to conceal its hand in the operation, the KGB was prepared to publish leaflets purporting to come from Japanese nationalists calling for attacks on U.S. property.
It is not known whether this operation was ever implemented.
Mitrokhin reveals the ultimately unsuccessful attempts by the intelligence service to scupper a revised security treaty between Japan and the United States in 1960. He claims the KGB helped foster a Japanese student protest against U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower’s press secretary James Hagerty. Later, senior KGB chiefs took some of the credit when Eisenhower’s trip to Japan was canceled due to safety concerns.
The KGB in Tokyo also managed to get published bogus secret annexes to the proposed revised treaty which purported to continue the 1951 San Francisco Treaty on the use of U.S. troops to quell civil unrest in Japan, and to extend Japanese-U.S. military cooperation from the Soviet Pacific to the Chinese coast.
One of the major preoccupations for Soviet agents was to reconnoiter sabotage targets in the event of a war between the Soviet Union and NATO countries.
Mitrokhin discloses that in 1962 agents made preparations for the sabotage of four major oil refineries in Japan as well as U.S. bases in Okinawa. They also identified four sites on the northwest coast of Hokkaido which could be used as wartime bases for KGB officers.
The former archivist reveals that the KGB had two valuable agents, codenamed Rengo and Emma, based at the Japanese Foreign Ministry, who provided large amounts of material between the late 1960s and 1979. Emma used a small camera fitted to her handbag to copy sensitive documents. The KGB also used a Russian-language teacher to seduce a Japanese diplomat in Moscow into working for them, according to the book.
Similar techniques were used to recruit a Japanese cipher clerk in Moscow, codenamed Nazar, who also helped the Soviet Union on his return to Tokyo. Information he passed on included traffic between Tokyo and Washington. The book notes, “There must have been moments when, thanks to Nazar and Soviet code-breakers, the Japanese Foreign Ministry was, without knowing it, practicing something akin to open diplomacy in its dealings with the Soviet Union.”
The KGB also recruited journalists and politicians to work as agents during the 1970s. They were used mainly to lobby on behalf of the Soviet Union, rather than provide useful intelligence. By the fall of 1979, the KGB had 31 agents and 24 confidential contacts, according to Mitrokhin.
The book reveals that the KGB managed to collect a lot of technological information from Japanese companies, particularly in the field of computers. Mitrokhin concluded that although the Soviet Union spent a lot of money on operations in Japan, they failed to really achieve their goals or improve Moscow’s image overseas.
“Though the KGB offensive in Japan generated many tactical operational successes, it ended in strategic failure. The enormous quantity of S&T (science and technology intelligence) collected by Line X (KGB section) from the West and Japan could not save the Soviet system from economic collapse.
”Nor were KGB active measures able to persuade Tokyo to sign a peace treaty acceptable to Moscow. At the beginning of the 21st century Russia and Japan were the only major combatants in the Second World War that had not yet ’normalized’ their relations.