[In 1932, Jewish] refugees were amazed to encounter the prosperous local community and to realise that Shanghai remained the only city open in the world, where visas were not required.
[White] Russian officers taught the Japanese to distinguish between Russians and Jews. They supplied them with copies of the notorious ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’, explaining the book’s contents… The stories about the strange, homeless people wandering across continents for thousands of years aroused Japanese curiosity and wonder… As a homogeneous state, Japan had no history of minority populations… Anti-Semitism aroused in the Japanese a mixture of admiration and curiosity, together with cautious concern.
Memorandums written in 1930s Imperial Japan proposed settling Jewish refugees escaping Nazi-occupied Europe in Japanese-controlled territory. As interpreted by Marvin Tokayer and Swartz (who used the term “Fugu Plan”, “河豚計画”, that was used by the Japanese to describe this plan), they proposed that large numbers of Jewish refugees should be encouraged to settle in Manchukuo or Japan-occupied Shanghai, thus gaining the benefit of the supposed economic prowess of the Jews and also convincing the United States, and specifically American Jewry, to grant political favor and economic investment into Japan. The idea was partly based on the acceptance of the The Protocols of the Elders of Zion as being a genuine document by at least part of the Japanese leadership.
The detailed scheme included how the settlement would be organized and how Jewish support, both in terms of investment and actual settlers, would be garnered. In June and July 1939, the memorandums “Concrete Measures to be Employed to Turn Friendly to Japan the Public Opinion Far East Diplomatic Policy Close Circle of President of USA by Manipulating Influential Jews in China,” and “The Study and Analysis of Introducing Jewish Capital” came to be reviewed and approved by the top Japanese officials in China.
Methods of attracting both Jewish and American favor were to include the sending of a delegation to the United States, to introduce American rabbis to the similarities between Judaism and Shinto, and the bringing of rabbis back to Japan in order to introduce them and their religion to the Japanese. Methods were also suggested for gaining the favor of American journalism and Hollywood.
The majority of the documents were devoted to the settlements, allowing for the settlement populations to range in size from 18,000, up to 600,000. Details included the land size of the settlement, infrastructural arrangements, schools, hospitals etc. for each level of population. Jews in these settlements were to be given complete freedom of religion, along with cultural and educational autonomy. While the authors were wary of affording too much political autonomy, it was felt that some freedom would be necessary to attract settlers, as well as economic investment.
The Japanese officials asked to approve the plan insisted that while the settlements could appear autonomous, controls needed to be placed to keep the Jews under surveillance. It was feared that the Jews might somehow penetrate into the mainstream Japanese government and economy, influencing or taking command of it in the same way that they, according to the forged Protocols of the Elders of Zion, had done in many other countries. The world Jewish community was to fund the settlements and supply the settlers…
Originally the idea of a small group of Japanese government and military officials who saw a need for a population to be established in Manchukuo (otherwise known as Manchuria) and help build Japan’s industry and infrastructure there, the primary members of this group included Captain Koreshige Inuzuka and Captain Norihiro Yasue, who became known as “Jewish experts”, the industrialist Yoshisuke Aikawa and a number of officials in the Kwantung Army, known as the “Manchurian Faction”.
Their decision to attract Jews to Manchukuo came from a belief that the Jewish people were wealthy and had considerable political influence. Jacob Schiff, a Jewish-American banker who, thirty years earlier, offered sizable loans to the Japanese government which helped it win the Russo-Japanese War, was well known. In addition, a Japanese translation of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion led some Japanese authorities to grossly overestimate the economic and political powers of the Jewish people, and their interconnectedness across the world due to the Jewish diaspora. It was assumed that by rescuing European Jews from the Nazis, Japan would gain unwavering and eternal favor from American Jewry.
In 1922, Yasue and Inuzuka had returned from the Japanese Siberian Intervention, aiding the White Russians against the Red Army where they first learned of the Protocols and came to be fascinated by the alleged powers of the Jewish people. Over the course of the 1920s, they wrote many reports on the Jews, and traveled to the British Mandate of Palestine (now Israel) to research the subject and speak with Jewish leaders such as Chaim Weizmann and David Ben-Gurion. Yasue translated the Protocols into Japanese. The pair managed to get the Foreign Ministry of Japan interested in the project. Every Japanese embassy and consulate was requested to keep the ministry informed of the actions and movements of Jewish communities in their countries. Many reports were received but none proved the existence of a global conspiracy.
From page 90:
A certain Captain Inotsuke wrote an interesting article on the subject, explaining it in the context of Japanese folklore. The fugu fish, much relished by the Japanese, has a lethally poisonous gland; when the gland is removed, the fish becomes tasty and nourishing. Inotsuke explained that the Japanese had the ability to remove the Jews’ capacity for destruction and leave only their usefulness.