Yamashita's gold, also referred to as the Yamashita treasure, is the name given to the alleged loot stolen in Southeast Asia by Japanese forces during World War II and hidden in caves, tunnels and underground complexes in the Philippines. It is named for the Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita, nicknamed "The Tiger of Malaya". Though accounts that the treasure remains hidden in Philippines have lured treasure hunters from around the world for over fifty years, its existence is disputed by most experts.The rumored treasure has been the subject of a complex lawsuit that was filed in a Hawaiian state court in 1988 involving Philippine treasure hunter, Rogelio Roxas, and former Philippines president, Ferdinand Marcos.
Prominent among those arguing for the existence of Yamashita's gold are Sterling Seagrave and Peggy Seagrave, who have written two books relating to the subject: The Yamato Dynasty: the Secret History of Japan's Imperial Family (2000) and Gold Warriors: America's Secret Recovery of Yamashita's Gold (2003). The Seagraves contend that looting was organized on a massive scale, by both yakuza gangsters such as Yoshio Kodama, and the highest levels of Japanese society, including Emperor Hirohito. The Japanese government intended that loot from Southeast Asia would finance Japan's war effort. The Seagraves allege that Hirohito appointed his brother, Prince Yasuhito Chichibu, to head a secret organization called Kin no yuri ("Golden Lily"), for this purpose. It is purported that many of those who knew the locations of the loot were killed during the war, or later tried by the Allies for war crimes and executed or incarcerated. Yamashita himself was executed for war crimes on February 23, 1946.
The stolen property reportedly included many different kinds of valuables looted from banks, depositories, temples, churches, other commercial premises, mosques, museums and private homes.It takes its name from General Tomoyuki Yamashita, who assumed command of Japanese forces in the Philippines in 1944.
According to various accounts, the loot was initially concentrated in Singapore, and later transported to the Philippines. The Japanese hoped to ship the treasure from the Philippines to the Japanese home islands after the war ended. As the Pacific War progressed, Allied submarines and aircraft inflicted increasingly heavy losses on Japanese merchant shipping. Some ships carrying loot back to Japan were sunk.
The Seagraves and a few others have claimed that United States military intelligence operatives located much of the loot; colluded with Hirohito and other senior Japanese figures to conceal its existence, and; used it to finance US covert intelligence operations around the world during the Cold War. These rumors have inspired many hopeful treasure hunters, but most experts and Philippine historians say there is no credible evidence behind them.
Many individuals and consortia, both Philippine and foreign, continue to search for treasure sites. A number of accidental deaths, injuries and financial losses incurred by treasure hunters have been reported.
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