That creep Arisue and the Atsugi legacy
Here we see, from left, Col. E. H. Tench, of MacArthur’s General Headquarters for the Supreme Allied Command Pacific (SACP) with a very swag shoulder holster, conferring with a very smug Lt. Gen. Seizo Arisue (also spelled sometimes as Arisuyu and Arimatsu) and a more morose Lt. Gen. Seiyichi Asmata at the surrender of Atsugi Japanese Navy Airfield near Tokyo, 28 August 1945.
The date is important, being five days before the general surrender was signed in Tokyo Bay aboard USS Missouri. MacArthur flew into Atsugi on 30 August and set foot on Honshu, the largest island of Japan, for the first time in the war.
Arisue was quite an intelligence catch at the time.
A young turk in the more fascist elements of the Japanese Army, he had been military attaché to Italy prior to Pearl Harbor from where he ran agents in Egypt and Persia and helped work behind the scenes on the Tri-Party Pact. He then filled a number of positions in China where he was involved with remnant White Russians then spying on the Soviets, and then at General Headquarters until rising to lead the Imperial Army’s Intelligence department in June 1945.
He was also apparently a player in a number of planned right-wing coups that attempted to keep Japan in the war. One report even had that he ran a secret underground government organization of hardline former officers, Arisue Kikan, that had squirreled away 100 million yen in the last days between the dropping of the A-bombs and the surrender. A graduate of the Military Academy, War College and Nakano Intelligence School, he knew where a lot of the bodies were buried.
“He has been characterized as an opportunist and as being a very clever turncoat, who turned out as part of the welcoming committee for Gen. MacArthur, despite his bitter anti-Allied attitude prior to and during the War,” said one report.
Fluent in Italian, German and French, the 49-year old Arisue escaped being tried as a war criminal and instead was utilized by MacArthur’s G-2, Maj. Gen. Charles Willoughby, to keep tabs on the Soviets through agents still in China and Korea as well as possibly serving as something of an in-between with Japanese volunteers that went to Formosa (Taiwan) to serve with the exiled Kuomintang Army in 1949 to defend against a possible Red Chinese invasion.
As noted by documents in the CIA’s archives, he was described as “An energetic, turbulent, active, capable very modern, very foxy diabolical general, with a vivacious inventive spirit, always on the watch and on the move, full of life and energy.”
He faded out from the intelligence scene in the late 1950s as the older hardliners grew increasingly inactive, the new Japan Self-Defense Forces were formed and eschewed overseas adventurism, and former contacts behind the bamboo curtain were extinguished.
Arisue died in 1992. He was described as “well off financially, but there seems to be some doubt as to the source of his income.”
As for Atsugi, USAAF squadrons began moving in on 8 Sept 1945 and in 1950 became Naval Air Station Atsugi. Today it serves along with NAF Iwakuni as the home to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, which recently conducted operations in the Solomon Islands near historic WWII naval aviation sites.