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Topic: Pre-war japanese radio messages, Anything on pearl harbor? not!< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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David Aiken Search for posts by this member.
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 29 2003,11:30  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Aloha All,
Phil Jacobsen observed [below] that hindsight gives us a lot of indications...but if one reads the Japanese radio messages without reference to hindsight, there really was NOTHING about "Pearl Harbor" within those messages.

"No reference to Pearl Harbor" by Phil Jacobsen:

Actually, there was not even any reference to Pearl Harbor in the 1945-46 decrypts. Frederick Parker in his article "The Unsolved Messages of Pearl Harbor" in "Cryptologia" lists 20 or so messages that he claims pointed to the Pearl Harbor attack. However, he uses quite a bit of 20/20 hindsight in such a determination.

For example, Exercises with carriers attacking battleships (but this would apply to an attack on the British as well); a message advising the presence of two Russian freighters in the North Pacific ocean eastbound from San Francisco (this could be explained as a normal interest in Russian activity); Tankers exercising with carriers in Kyushu; Requirement for a large amount of drums of fuel oil to be stored aboard ships including carriers; The estimated position of the tanker Shiriya north of Wake Island by 3 December (This tanker was to refueld the two DD's of the Midway Neutralization (shelling) Force, not the Kido Butai); The transfer of Suzuki to Hitokappu Bay on the BB Hiei to report inspection results; The planned opening of hostilites (but no location is given); The 1st Air Fleet flagship was located near the Ominato communications zone (North Hokkaido) on 22 November (A Russian interest again?); Weather reports which if correlated to U.S. weather reports could have shown an interest in the North Pacific Ocean area, but mentions the "RU" or Russian area, not Pearl Harbor; War time communications procedures to commence November 11, 1941; The famous, "Climb Mt. Niitaka message of December 2, 1941.

There are indications that even the 1945-46 translator's used 20/20 hindsight in their 1941 translations. The translation of one message put a question mark in the "Near surface (?) torpedo" translation. What do you think gave the translator the idea that the questioned adjectives before torpedo meant "near surface"? The same message also refers to (A special attachment for torpedoes, probably bow or stern planes) in parenthesis which are the translator's own evaluation.

It is important to note that the term for "Strike Force' was not decrypted until after the Pearl Harbor attack so any reference to that term would not have been recognized in November/December 1941.

In conclusion, it is suggested that care be used when referring to what was decrypted in 1945-46 and concluding that such information would have been eaily recognized as a tipoff
of the planned Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. After all, no significance was attached to the so-called "bomb plot" messages decrypted from Japanese diplomatic messages in November and December 1941.

PHJ

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David Aiken Search for posts by this member.
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 30 2003,4:04 Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

Aloha All,
Phil Jacobsen made a great obsevation above and has noted a few more items:

"You can find the messages that Parker relied on in his "The Unsolved Messages of Pearl Harbor" article in "Cryptologia" in his Center For Cryptologic History monograph, "Pearl Harbor Revisited." It can be found on-line at:

"Pearl Harbor Revisited"

My point is that there was never any message specifying a planned attack on Pearl Harbor. As the old saying goes, "It is impossible to unring the bell." Yes, when you are acutely aware that Pearl Harbor had been attacked by the Japanese, you can see some indications of that planning in the 1945-46 decrypted messages.

My observation is that it is not a slam dunk that such messages would have fully alerted Navy and Army commands of the intended attack considering their predisposition that Japan was going to attack the Kra peninsula in Southeast Asia, as an extension to their Indo-China agression, and that they would be rather foolish to attack the U.S.

"Pearl Harbor Revisited" is a good read on just how small our radio intelligence efforts were in 1941 and the problems of exchanging information as well as the pressures put on translators at Washington and even Corregidor to produce Purple diplomatic decrypts in priority over working on the main Japanese naval administrative code, JN-25B.

PHJ
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