The Japanese Monk:
|Some of these refugees reported on Yoshida at the place and at the time reported by the second Japanese monk.|
|Some refugees reported on Yoshida's location, condition, and activities after the second monk was released. These reports describe a Japanese monk -- Yoshida -- who is growing older and who is beginning to have health problems.|
|Then, as we review the reports of a Japanese monk, we find no more reports of Yoshida in the prison in the south where he was for years. Instead, we now begin to get reports of an old, feeble, sick Japanese monk in a prison in the Hanoi area. And, as we review reports from that prison, we find that there were no reports of a Japanese monk -- or any other Japanese -- in that prison until the time that Yoshida leaves the southern prison and appears in the Hanoi prison.|
Thus, we have a chain of reporting on Yoshida's location and condition. Those reports tell of a man who is aging, beginning to have health problems, then with serious health problems, then moved to a prison in Hanoi where he is tended full time by guards, prison medical personnel, and other prisoners.
It is from this prison in Hanoi that Yoshida is released. He was visited there by Japanese foreign ministry officials who appealed to the Vietnamese to release him, based on his age and his health and mental condition.
US intell knows where Yoshida was, his condition, and what other prisoners were held with him.
Here is a typical claim that appears on an MIA cult website about Yoshida:
June 10 1989: The Washington Post reports a Japanese monk released after 13 years in a Vietnamese prison had American POW cellmates who nursed him to health.
When Yoshida was released, his daughter accompanied him from Hanoi to Tokyo, then to Sapporo where he was hospitalized. HIs release was publicized in the Japanese press and a few days after the first article about Yoshida appeared, his daughter told a Japanese newspaper that her father had encountered Americans while he was in prison in Vietnam. It is from these statements by the daughter that we get the press claims that he had contact with US POWs.
We at DIA notified the US Defense Attaché Office in Tokyo to contact the family and to interview Yoshida -- they were to ask him first about any contact he may have had with Americans. The attaché office found that Yoshida was not helpful. His physicians had conducted a CAT scan and several other tests; they determined that he had suffered a number of small strokes and at least two large strokes. He had little memory, he came in and out of reality, and he simply was not reliable as a source of information.
Still, we interviewed him on several occasions. He was interviewed in Japanese by a Japanese-speaking member of the attaché office, along with an interpreter for good measure. He was also interviewed by a Vietnamese-speaking member of the DIA research team. In none of these interviews did Yoshida provide any information about Americans. He told a consistent story of a foreigner -- Caucasian -- who gave him bananas and who helped him bathe.
I was assigned to Japan from July 1991 to July 1993. While there, I spoke with the attaché officer who interviewed Yoshida. Yoshida was an old man, his mind was gone, clouded by years of mistreatment and by strokes. As I listened to the attaché officer describe Yoshida, I recalled my own grandmother who suffered several small strokes than a large stroke that incapacitated her. When I visited her, she was at times lucid -- she could tell me who had visited her that morning, what she had eaten for breakfast, and other recent events. Then, she would take a nap and, when she waked up, she was in another world -- she remember nothing of our previous conversations, she did not recognize me, she called me names of long-dead relatives.
The MIA cult accuses DIA of trying to claim that Yoshida was "crazy" and that we do so to cover up his explosive information on US POWs with whom he had contact. Such claims are, as with most of their charges, bogus and unfounded.
If we review the records of people who were held in the same prisons as Yoshida, we find that there were, in fact, non-Asian foreigners in these prisons. None of these people were US POWs; they were:
|An American couple and their cat, arrested in 1979 and held for two months. Their
yacht strayed into Vietnamese territorial waters and they were held for a short while.
They were held in the same prison where the second monk last saw Yoshida and where
there were many reports of Yoshida.|
|In the Hanoi prison to which Yoshida was moved, we know of several foreign prisoners. They were mainly merchant seamen and businessmen, arrested for smuggling, black marketeering, and bribery. This prison had a hospital-type ward in which ill prisoners were kept; Yoshida was in this ward from the time he was moved to this prison until his release.|
From the evidence, then, it is clear that Yoshida had no contact with US POWs. Other people, held in the same prisons at the same time as he, have reported no US POWs in those prisons. We know the identities of the foreigners who were in these prisons, none of them US POWs.
There is one more item -- a somewhat bizarre item -- that is part of the Yoshida story. Former Congressman William "Just Call Me Billy" Hendon has made a career for the past twenty years of trying to prove that US POWs were abandoned in SEAsia. All his stories, all his claims, all his favorite reports have been shown to be bogus, fabricated (some fabricated by Hendon), and misrepresented. What Hendon does not want anyone to know is that he visited Yoshida. That's right, in early 1990, Hendon went to Sapporo, Japan, and visited Yoshida. Here is the story.
Yoshida's daughter contacted the US Defense Attaché Office in the Embassy in Tokyo and asked them why a Congressman named "Mr. Billy" was coming to Sapporo to see her father. The attaché office was concerned because no one in the embassy knew anything about a Congressional delegation so they contacted us at DIA. We then told them the story about Hendon and directed them to stay away from him -- if Hendon had any contact with the embassy or the attaché office, he would claim that he had official support.
Yoshida's daughter and one of his physicians sat in on the Hendon meeting with Yoshida and the daughter immediately contacted the attaché office, after Hendon had departed. She was pissed and upset. According to her, Hendon had browbeaten her father, been very aggressive in his questioning, and tried to get the old man to admit that he had had contact with US POWs. She told the attaché office that here father was puzzled, incoherent, frightened, and that the doctor had to ask Hendon to leave.
To my knowledge, Hendon has never publicly revealed that he made this trip. Why not? What would he have done if Yoshida had told him of the presence of US POWs in prisons in Vietnam? Hendon would have called an immediate news conference to proclaim Yoshida's revelations. Instead, he got nothing from Yoshida and he did not want anyone to know this, thus, Hendon sneaked out of Japan and has never told anyone other than a few close associates about this trip. Instead, Hendon simply makes the occasional claim that Yoshida told of encountering US POWs -- he knows that his comments are sufficient for the MIA cult.
November 16, 2000