by Jessica Leung
Rumors of hidden treasure from wartime loots locating in the islands of Mindanao, Philippines, have been around ever since Lieutenant General Yamashita surrendered to the Allied Forces after he lost the Battle of Manila in 1945 which marked the end of World War II in the Philippines. According to this rumor, there are billion dollars worth of gold waiting to be found in Southeast Asia. Lately, this gold treasure is even involved in a lawsuit involving the former president of the Philippines. It is no surprise that “Yamashita’s gold” has been the center of conspiracy and accusations since World War 2 given its enormous amount of value. Interestingly, many of the accused surrounding the gold include people from different roles in society from Yakuza members to the royal family of Japan.
Kin no yuri, other wise known as, Golden Lily Operation, allegedly was an operation during WW2 where the Imperial Japanese Army looted gems, golden Buddhas, coins, and precious metals from all over Southeast Asia. The loot then arrived in the Philippines where it was then transferred to Japan. However, toward the end of the war, the Allies started gaining control over the Pacific, and in order to protecting their loot, Prince Chichibu, the brother of Emperor Hirohito, hastily built 175 tunnels all over the Philippines to protect the crates of wartime loot. After the 2nd atomic war was dropped in Japan and the Cold War Era began in the world, there were agreements between US and Japan to establish Okinawa, Japan as a base for the United States military. There are also conspiracies that the US and Japan have written agreements for Japan to hand over the gold in order to protect Japan from wartime reparations after being responsible for the deaths of millions. Another conspiracy floating on the internet regarding the loot from resurfacing the world is to avoid inflation and scrutiny of its government. The gold could be partly the reason why Japan’s economy recovered so quickly during its reconstruction and post war devastation by the atomic bomb. The deposits of the gold have been archived but this could explain why Hirohito remained on the throne after the terror Japan has inflicted on Asia and victims of the war demanding reparations from the Japanese that did not receive any compensation for the crimes.
After the war, the rumors of the loot sent many treasure hunters around the Philippines. One of these treasure hunters is Rogelio Roxas who actually discovered a portion of the Yamashita’s gold. Rogelio was in the Philippines military before becoming a locksmith. He became a treasure hunter in the 1970s. He led a group to start digging for Yamashita’s gold. His group allegedly discovered a portion of the Yamashita’s gold, which was a hidden chamber full of gold bars and a giant golden Buddha statue with gems hidden inside its head located in a cave north of Manila. Unfortunately, after his discovery, he was arrested by President Ferdinand E. Marcos who confiscated all his gold and tortured him. After he was released from his arrest, he died mysteriously under suspicious circumstance.
Roxas’ estate formed a corporation called “The Golden Buddha Corporation” and in 1988, the family filed a lawsuit against President Marco regarding the stolen loot. In 1996, the court ruled to release $22 Billion in reparation to Roxas’s family.
Given the complicated situation of the gold as a universal plunder from all over the world; if it should be returned, it would be an international effort by the United Nations to redistribute whatever it is left over after all this time after WWII. However, many relics are no longer of its original work after being melted into gold bars.
AP NEWS. July 20 1996. https://www.apnews.com/f9d140b7106e715fb9f44f9317901442
Ferdinand Marcos and Imelda Marcos / Arelma Deposit Case. <https://star.worldbank.org/corruption-cases/printpdf/18500>
Legend of the Golden Lily < https://theunredacted.com/the-legend-of-golden-lily-yamashitas-gold/ >
Seagrave, Sterling. Seagrave, Peggy Gold Warriors: America's Secret Recovery of Yamashita's Gold. January 17, 2006.