An army, it is often said, marches on its stomach. Now, a newly released trove of previously secret files reveal how WWII Japan planned to take out the Soviet Red Army by targeting what was on their plates and in their cups.
Despite a neutrality pact between Moscow and Tokyo, declassified documents released by Russia’s FSB security agency on Monday show that, in 1942, the Japanese Central Defense Committee hatched a plan to take out their potential rivals.
Agreeing on the need to avoid direct conflict, Lieutenant Сolonel Y. Nagatomo argued that there were techniques that could be deployed to weaken the Soviet Red Army without risking an outright conflict. According to another committee member, “you can kill with a club but we can’t go ahead and act like that. So do we need to deploy poison?” Nagatomo replied simply “yes.”
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He went on to say that the efforts to subvert the USSR’s war effort could come in the form of “poisoning pies and wells,” potentially meaning conscripted soldiers in the Asian part of the country would be struck down or killed by saboteurs miles away from the border or the front lines in Europe.
Russia and Japan are still technically in a state of war, having never signed and ratified a peace treaty, despite Tokyo’s capitulation in September 1945. The status of the southernmost Kurile Islands, now administered from Moscow, has held up efforts to draw a line under the bloody conflict.
There is hope, however, that ongoing talks between Moscow and Tokyo could yield results and see the hatchet finally buried. At present, though, Japan appears reluctant to give up all claims to the islands, and Russia is bound by a series of constitutional reforms passed last year to preserve its territorial integrity.
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