Engineering, Espionage, and Sabotage


By late 1934, Yamamoto was spending much time in California. Much of his operations had moved South, and Japan was increasingly interested in the Southern California as well. Los Angeles was destine to be the dominant city on the west coast of the United States, maybe all of America, eclipsing New York. San Diego was home to the a large Naval base and strategically located to support military operations in the Pacific. It shared a border with Mexico and was a gateway south to the Sea of Cortez, Central America, and South America.

On a personal front, he was now married just over a year, he was a father to an infant son (my father, George) and another was on the way (Ed). Maybe surprisingly, he had a full and active life outside of the business of running a mob empire and large-scale espionage operation. Like many entrepreneurs today, his personal life was co-mingled with his professional life. The Toyo Club continued to be a large venue for traditional Japanese dance and music. His relationship with Fuku Nakatani remained strong – she and her company and students performed regularly at the club as well as the Nippon Kan Theater, which the Toyo Club continued to support. Kanekichi himself, as well as his family performed on occasion. He had established a New Years tradition of performing a well known Dragon Dance to ring in the New Year. He vacationed with his family on Catalina Island in Southern California as well as Bainbridge Island in the state of Washington. Catalina Island was a secret “base” where Yamamoto coordinated much of his activities in Southern California as well as serving as a vantage point to watch marine and military ship traffic in and out of Southern California. Bainbridge Island provided similar function; it was the ideal viewpoint for tracking military vessels in and out of Bremerton, another major United States naval base.

By early 1935, Yamamoto had focused mostly all of his efforts on supporting Japan. His former business was a platform and vehicle to prop up his far-reaching plans for espionage and terror. The money flow from the clubs continued to be important in supporting Toyama and his agenda in the homeland. The fishing operations were a key vehicle to bring spies, engineers, and other personnel into the United States, undetected from the watchful eyes of the United States. And, as its earlier experiments such as that observed by Hearst, showed that he could bring effectively bring munitions into the United States, store them, and activate them in time an attack was warranted. The prostitution business was a key mechanism to extract information from American military personnel. Using the tactics he had learned from Toyama, “pillow talk” and blackmail were effective tools to get critical and secret information from American officers that were seduced by the flesh of exotic oriental women and sexual delights. Cameras and photographs played key roles in their blackmail operations.

As his need to be active in California increased, Yamamoto was increasingly concerned about the Little Tokyo Club. He had built strong relationships with Sera by helping him get his gambling and prostitution operations in order and profitable. He relied on the clubs the Little Tokyo Club for its espionage and black mail operations. A clash of power and control was nearly inevitable.  However, his close personal relationship with Sera prevented the two clubs from engaging in a turf war. Yamamoto had been able to keep problems at bay with his physical presence in Los Angeles and by providing continuous value to the Southern California clubs. Sera’s underlings were growing impatient and more demanding. They felt Sera was abdicating too much control to the Toyo Club. And, a sense of that Yamamoto was an existential threat to the Little Tokyo Club was growing.

In April of 1935, the cold war escalated. Mr. Sera was retiring and returning to Japan. A Mr.  M. Yamawaki was going to take over the Little Tokyo Club in his place. But, Sera said Yamawaki was not capable of running the Club alone and asked for Yamamoto’s help. A formal arrangement was made where Yamamoto would receive payments and ownership in the Little Tokyo Club syndicate in exchange for “helping” run the clubs. It was the “toe-hold” that Yamamoto needed to exert more control and possibly take overall control. Of course, he knew that Yamawaki would be threatened by this arrangement and not be pleased. Inevitably, this would not be the “final solution” to the conflict brewing, but Yamamoto gambled that it was an opportunity that he could not refuse. Would a power struggle and blood bath ensue? Yamamoto was not sure.

The FBI and ONI were acutely aware of Yamamoto’s activities. J Edgar Hoover himself had received information stating:

I have definitely learned through a conversation I just overheard in the Japanese consulate that Yamamoto and his organization are about to begin an intensive course of the study for the purpose of committing sabotage in California, Oregon, and Washington when war comes. The night clubs that Yamamoto operates are to be the head quarters for the training and the training will included the construction and study of specially built scale models of bridges, electric power plants, water supply systems, railroad yards and other such strategic points. An N.Y.R liner due in San Francisco next Thursday was carrying two men whose names I have been unable to find out and who are bringing instructions for Yamamoto.

The FBI had been following Yamamoto closely. Yamamoto moved frequently up and down the West Coast from Alaska to Mexico. Wherever he went, one or more FBI agents were in close pursuit. Yamamoto frequently visited to all of the clubs in Washington, Oregon, and California. The FBI was certain he was the head of entire Japanese mob empire. He had earned the nickname as the “Yellow Al Capone.” In fighting within the Little Tokyo Club syndicate resulted in frequent murders – the FBI, newspapers and the club itself had a difficult time tracking all the killings. By mid 1936, bloody instances were weekly incidents. At the height of the mayhem, Yamamoto visited the Los Angeles headquarters. All most over night, the killings stopped. The FBI attributed the quiescence to Yamamoto, solidifying their impression of his leadership.

While the FBI had previously been mostly interested in Yamamoto’s mob (especially drug activities), they now knew there was a much larger and insidious strategy to his work – espionage and sabotage.

Follow the Money

While the records are unclear, the businesses of the Toyo Club in late 1920’s and early 1930’s was likely in the 10’s of millions of dollars. The businesses, especially the drub business, were incredibly profitable. Opium and heroin accounted for most these profits. He saw tens of millions of dollars from operations in the opium supply chain in China flow out to Toyama and other Chinese subversives (such as the Green Party). Indirectly and directly, he was funding much of the Japanese Nationalist movement and uprisings in China. 

After the wholesale drug business was shut down in the early 1930’s, revenue dropped commensurately. But the other businesses continued to thrive. Moreover, the Toyo Club still sat on a stock pile of cash. Perhaps in the 10’s of millions of dollars. Even though income was down, Yamamoto was to continue to fund Toyama and his legal and subversive activities. 

How much money continued to flow out of the Toyo Club to Toyama?

A non-descript government building near Warren G. Magnuson Park on Sand Point, a neighborhood north of downtown Seattle, near the University of Washington holds the answer. The building is the United States National Archive, the western regional office. Buried deep into its collection of official government documents are two bins – box #69 and box #93 of the US District Courts Western District of Washington Southern Division Tacoma Exhibits 1887-1965.  The two bins are a treasure trove of information of Yamamoto and the Toyo Club. In particular, the accounting books of the gambling houses in the Toyo Club Empire are found here. Because most all money flowed through the clubs (except for perhaps the cannery and fishing operations, the books contain the “code” to the money flow. After analyzing the books from the clubs, we’re able to reconcile the inflows and outflows of money from the Toyo Club. Indeed, tens of millions of dollars a year came in, and about half of that found its way back to Toyama.

It might come as a surprise, regardless of the success of the Toyo Club, Yamamoto lived a relative simple life. Exotic cars, fancy suits, cool toys (such as movie cameras and fancy “regular”cameras), and first class vacations to places such as Catalina, Hawaii, and Alaska (mostly always coupled together with business) were exceptions and hardly extravagant. His home was a moderate 4-bedroom house at 317 Judkins, on the north side of Beacon Hill in Seattle. Today, the house still stands on the corner of 12th and Judkins. There, he lived with Helen, his wife, and two children, George and Edward. They had a dog, a German Sheppard name “Ado.” 

Yes, named after Adolph Hitler.

Buying Elections, Supporting Candidates, and Eliminating Dissenters

Toyama’s Nationalist movement to help Japan to greatness were realized in politics. Sure, there were battles that he supported (Chiang Kai Shek’s battle with the Qing dynasty, for example), but his motivation was to control and manipulate politicians for his cause. Subverting elections, supporting candidates through campaign contributions, and black mail were typical tactics. Assassinations were often a common, easy, but messy step to control and take power.

Could this be financed on a few millions of dollars?  Ten million? Some money came from blackmail and bribery, but much came from Yamamoto. Ultimately, Yamamoto, through the Toyo Club, sent 10’s of millions of dollars to Japan, in particular Toyama. Was it enough?

For perspective, in 2017, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump spent about $1 billion on their campaigns. (less than $50 million in 1935 dollars). John F. Kennedy spent about $10 million in 1962 (about 2.5 million in 1935). Dwight Eisenhower spent $2.5 million (about 1.3 million in 1935). We guess that Franklin Roosvelt spent about $1 million in 1932 to win his first election as President in 1932. So, in the mid 1930’s winning a United States Presidential election would cost about $1 million. (Note that campaigns have gotten increasingly expensive as we campaign in the 21st century).

Understanding how much it takes to win an election gives us some insight to how much influence Toyama had. With $10 million or more per year, it was easy to finance up ballot candidates as well as down ballot, which are typically exponentially less expensive. Plenty of money remained for blackmail, bribery, and other subversive election tactics. Funding assassinations were not inexpensive. However, they were well within the budget of Toyama.

Can’t Follow the Money

Moving large amounts of money out of the country, especially money derived from illegal sources being distributed to subversive forces abroad, was not a trivial task. Yamamoto was much concerned about this. Of course, much money flowing into the hands of Toyama, at least in the late 1920’s, came from the transaction of opium selling. Getting money from the Club to Toyama was slightly more tricky. Use of Sunitomo Bank and borrowers to get over $10 million into the hands of Toyama seemed brilliant at the time. Here Yamamoto was able to save the Japanese business community, prop up failing banks both locally and abroad, and curry favors to all walks of life. In the meantime, these events that seem altruistic were quite self-serving to get money to Toyama and his nationalist agenda.

In the meantime, these complicated money movement maneuvers became quite unnecessary. While building up a espionage empire, Yamamoto had become acquainted and friendly with the Japanese Consulates throughout the west coast and beyond. Personnel and officers at the Consulates were not surprisingly openly supportive of Japan’s agenda for growth and prosperity. However, perhaps the worst kept secrets, they were also supportive of Japan’s Nationalist agenda and even Toyama himself. The Consulates became the vehicle to transmit money back to Japan and Toyama. The Toyo Club and ordinary citizenry could merely deposit money to the Consulate and it would find its way back to Japan, outside of the watchful eye of the American government. Japanese nationals visiting the Consulates on a regular basis might, at first glance, be surprising. However, it was quite common and encouraged by the Japanese government. With the belief that citizen espionage was most valuable, relationships with the Japanese in America were actively cultivated. Pictures, observation notes, information in general, and money were walked into the Consulate without scrutiny by the Japanese in America. Once there, it easily found its way to the appropriate channels in Japan.

Espionage

Yamamoto was personally involved in much of the Toyo Club’s new operations. Unlike his previous role as General Manager of a complex drug operations, where delegation was important to success, Yamamoto traveled up and down the west coast  frequently to manage the espionage business. He visited the California gambling clubs frequently to make his presence known as well as help with operational strategies and tactics. He often met incoming spies, engineers, and saboteurs personally as they arrive in the dark of the night on fishing boats. As time passed, operations become more emboldened – such men began on regular passenger vessels in plain sight. The FBI and ONI attempted to track these new arrivals. However, the sheer number of spies arriving, along with the difficulty of positive identification made such efforts difficult.

Upon arrival, education and indoctrination were the first steps of training. At clubs up and down the West Coast, notably Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, men were trained on the aspects of photography, model building, and sabotage.  And, of course, covert communication to hide their activities from the United States government and other curious eyes were necessary lessons. Yamamoto himself oftentimes led such meeting, but the number of arriving men became so large, training trainers became increasingly important.

Yamamoto first focused information gathering. Detailed records of strategic infrastructure would be the foundation of future activities. How to photograph industrial and military installations was as much art as skill. Pictures needed to be taken at the correct angles, with the appropriate lighting, and with complete coverage. Further, knowing that the US government would be suspicious of such photography, instructions on how to do so without being detected were important.

By early 1937, all of the photographic work was nearly complete. The next phase was modeling. Full-scale models of all of the sites of interest were built. For every bridge, dam, power plant, and military base, a model was created. This involved architects, engineers, and draftsman to translate the photographs taken into 3-D versions at 1/100 scale. The models were large, bulky, and heavy. Once completed, they were disassembled, placed in suitcases, and delivered to the nearest Japanese consulates. There, they would find their way back to Japan for use by the Japanese Imperial Navy.

In addition to reconnaissance and modeling, Yamamoto next steps were to prepare for active destruction. In additional to spies, Japanese military personnel and other agents of sabotage entered the United States. Training continued but instead of information gathering, plans and techniques for destruction, terrorism, and mayhem were now the order of business. Specific targets were identified. Plans to destroy the various infrastructure identified in the surveillance efforts was the target of attack. The Los Angeles

The FBI, upon learning about Yamamoto’s plans and activities became increasingly concerned. His activities were far beyond gambling and drugs. He threatened the overall security of the United States. Working with the ONI, they iterated over plans on how to deal with this emerging and imminent threat, with no conclusion. In the mean time, they desired to increase surveillance of Yamamoto’s activities by inserting “moles” into the his organization.

Of course, intelligence agents of the FBI would certainly fail, since they were all white men, who would clearly be discovered on physical attributes alone. So, they turned to the Nisei community. A Nisei is “second generation” Japanese, whose parents were born in Japan and immigrated to the United States. A Nisei is the offspring of such people (called Issei) who were born in the United States. The FBI identified a list of Nisei’s who could potentially be helpful. Then, after careful vetting to ensure their loyalties to the United States, a handful were approached to serve as counter-intelligence agents to work on behalf of the United States government and against the nation of Japan. Six men were enlisted. These counterspies successfully embedded themselves into Yamamoto’s empire, through the Little Tokyo Club. While none were able to infiltrate to specific meetings of espionage, engineering, or sabotage, they were able to discern much of Yamamoto’s reconnaissance activities as well as plans for terrorism and sabotage as a precursor for attack from Japan. Their work was invaluable to the United States. They provided much information to the government about Yamamoto’s, and about the true intent of Japan in general.

Today, many will find the plans and operations of Yamamoto and Japan to be fantastical and unbelievable. With the help of these six Niseis, the United States government uncovered Japan’s infiltration into South America and Central America (the Panama Canal was of particular interest), as well as the United States. The extent in which Japanese “sleeper cells” via Yamamoto that were ready to attack the United States was quite surprising.

In April of 1937, a large contingent of men arrived from Japan, simultaneously in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. A flurry of activity at the various clubs was noted by the FBI. Frequent visits to hardware stores, lumber companies, and other stores were noted. The FBI concluded that Japanese were hurrying to complete models of the various places of interest. Yamamoto himself was moving up and down the coast, seemingly on a daily basis, to conduct meetings at the various clubs. The FBI’s interest was heightened, not just by the frequency of meetings but of the content. It appeared large scale attacks were being planned. In Los Angeles, Yamamoto’s activities were carefully observed. He spent much time moving about between the Little Tokyo Club, the Japanese consulate, and the offices of Dr. Furasawa. Dr. Furasawa and his wife were also being carefully followed by the FBI, suspected of participating in the spy activities of Japan. His offices were a frequent meeting point for military and government attaché visiting the United States. Yamamoto’s frequent visits there raised even more suspicion.

With increased concerned, the FBI increased its surveillance in Los Angeles. All six Nisei counterspies were now embedded into the Little Tokyo Club. After a lengthy meeting there, Yamamoto took a plane to San Francisco. A federal operative took the same flight as Yamamoto and another federal agent was waiting for him in San Francisco. Upon arrival, Yamamoto’s chauffeur handed him a note. Upon reading it, Yamamoto was angered and expresses an uncharacteristic fit of rage. The federal agent observing this was quite concerned, as Yamamoto has always been calm, collected, and in control. A flight was leaving for Los Angeles immediately, and Yamamoto changes his plans and returns to Los Angeles.

Federal agents were waiting for Yamamoto, even though they are unsure why he has returned or what has angered him. Instead of taking his regular chauffeured vehicle, he opted for a taxicab instead. Yamamoto knew he was being followed. For an hour, he tried to shake the tail of the federal agents – randomly driving through the city, changing cabs frequently and even moving by foot in and out of buildings. The federal agents then feared the worse – that Yamamoto has discovered the moles in his organization. They quickly attempted to inform the 6 counterspy Niseis that have been inside Yamamoto’s organization. Only 4 of them were contacted, and told to immediately go into hiding.

The other two? They were found dead at the Little Tokyo Club the next morning.
Sabotage

Yamamoto’s involvement in the munitions test of the coast of San Simeon where Hearst spied on him was his foray into sabotage and terrorist operations. He was intrigued by the chemistry, physics and mechanics of weaponry. It was an engineering challenge, not just a theoretical exercise. Perhaps it was too much of detailed involvement for the head of a large organization such as the Toyo Club. But personal interests had high value to Yamamoto, so he indulged in some hands-on activities, even though he probably should have delegated more and left the details to others.

Early one morning, 2AM to be exact, a tuna fishing boat, the Flying Cloud, departed Terminal Island in Southern California. The boat was operated by a Japanese operator to a Japanese fleet, and typically fished for tuna the Van Camp Fish Packing Company, which had a cannery on Terminal Island. flew the Stars and Stripes as it headed southwest, towards the Mexican boarder. The Flying Cloud carried an all Japanese crew. On it, was none other than Kanekichi Yamamoto.

Close behind, ONI dispatched a boat to follow the Flying Cloud. The ONI had intercepted radio transmissions that it was headed out to rendezvous with a German freighter, the Edna.

By 1937, the ONI’s suspicion and activity around Japanese fishing vessels and Yamamoto in particular had increased. A hard hitting, no nonsense San Bernardino attorney named Benjamin Harrison was appointed US Attorney General for Southern California. Harrison was highly suspicious of Japanese fishing fleets operating in California. Fabulous stories and rumors about Japanese espionage through fishing operations were rampant; such activities were perhaps the worst kept secret on Terminal Island. Because fishing by Japanese companies was economically lucrative to the region, local officials turned a blind eye to the extracurricular activities of such vessels. And, of course, bribery and blackmail provided further cover.

Harrison was a scholar. He investigated the history of Japanese fishing and espionage to discover fisherman played a key role in the Russo-Japanese war. In the key battle in the Straits of Tsushima in 1905, two Japanese fishing boats tipped off Admiral Togo, then in command of the Japanese fleet, of the approaching Russian fleet. Togo was then able to position the Japanese fleet in a favorable position, utilizing the now famous tactic of “Crossing the T” to defeat the Russians. This was a pivotal moment in the war, successful only because of the early reconnaissance of the two fishing boats.

With this historical knowledge, Harrison directed resources from the ONI and Coast Guard to increase their surveillance activities on Japanese fisherman. It was discovered that these fishing boats, costing between $20,000 and $200,000. They were often equipped with diesel engines giving them a range of 6,000 miles, had sophisticated shortwave radios and radio telephones that could communicate directly with Tokyo, and secretly armed with weaponry from stern to port.

As the Flying Cloud made its way out to sea, the ONI dispatched a plane to provide secondary reconnaissance. By ship and by plane, the ONI was able to track the Flying Cloud’s every move. The Flying Cloud and Edna rendezvous occurred south of the United States border, now in international waters. The ONI boat’s captain made sure to keep a distance not to be detected by either the Flying Cloud or Edna but was able to observe most everything through high powered binoculars. When the Flying Cloud pulled along side of the Edna, it had lowered it’s American flag and was now flying the Japanese Imperial Navy Flag. The Edna was flying a swastika.

At the rendezvous point, 30 large drums which looked like gasoline containers were unloaded from the Edna to the Flying Cloud. The bottoms of the drums were painted bright yellow, with the rest painted a dark red or brown. The containers were obviously loaded will liquid as the German and Japanese crews transferred them from the German freighter to the Japanese fishing boat. After the transfer was completed, the two boats separated, and each went their own way.

The ONI had arranged to have a Coast Guard vessel be in the vicinity of the rendezvous point but just beyond the horizon so it would not be detected. As the Flying Cloud made its way back to shore, the Coast Guard followed it. Instead of heading back to Terminal Island, the Flying Cloud made a beeline for Ensenada, a port town just south of the United States-Mexico border. As the Coast Guard cutter became increasingly sure of the Flying Cloud’s destination, it communicated its hypothesis to the ONI. The ONI summoned the Mexican Federal Police to patrol the docks of Ensenada. As the Flying Cloud was now outside the reach of the United States government, the ONI and Coast Guard had no jurisdiction to board the Flying Cloud once it set port in Ensenada. Mexican officials were only of little help – reporting that the once at port, the 100 pound barrels were rolled to an abandoned flour mill near the wharf. All barrels were delivered to the mill but one. The Coast Guard knew that there were 29 barrels, as the ONI had counted them when they were transferred from the Edna. It was easy to track the barrels with their bright yellow bottoms. The mill was owned by an Italian, and heavily guarded by four Italians and four Japanese, each group taking turns on 12 hour shifts. Once the barrels were unloaded, Yamamoto meets with an Italian, presumably the owner of the mill. They shake hands, and some money was exchanged. Yamamoto had coordinated the operation, presumably funding much of it.

Once the transfer was completed, Yamamoto returned to the Flying Cloud, and, as quickly as it had come, the ship departed back to the United States. Terminal Island was its destination. As it approached port, the Flying Cloud was again flying the Stars and Stripes.

Once at port, the last remaining barrel was loaded on a truck. Yamamoto also boarded the truck. As the truck departed, the ONI, now in an automobile, followed it to yet another destination – the Koyasan Beikoko Betsuin, a Buddhist Temple at 342 East First Street in Los Angeles. As soon as the truck arrived, the front doors flung open and the last barrel was quickly ushered into the temple by Yamamoto and a crew at the temple waiting for them.


While the ONI did not know for certain, it had a hunch on what was contained in the barrels. Months earlier, American operatives in Tokyo had informed the ONI through the American Embassy that a German chemist was working in Japan. The chemist had made a liquid that was relatively harmless until it was mixed with salt water. The resulting chemical reaction would produce an acid that could eat through steel plate. Explosive devices that were set off by magnetic control were attached to the drums that contained the liquid. When a military ship in the ocean would pass over the barrel, its steel hull would activate the magnetic device, exploding the barrel, dispersing the liquid into the salty ocean. The resultant bubbling acid would rise to the surface in a gummy form and attach itself to the steel hull of the passing ship. The acid would then eat its way through the ships hull, completely disabling it.

The idea of such a liquid and deployment in barrels to sabotage American military vessels sounded so fantastical that the American Embassy and later the ONI discounted the possibility of such a system. In fact, the story was so outlandish, the Embassy was slow to report its findings to anyone, let alone the ONI. However, as Japan had increased it’s war efforts in China and America became more suspicious of those “Sneaky Japs,” the report of the fantastic liquid found its way to the ONI and Coast Guard. With the observation of the barrels of liquids in Ensenada, the ONI took the report of the mysterious liquid more seriously.

The ONI did not have to wait long to ascertain what was in the barrels or verify the fantastical story of the magical liquid. The morning following the delivery of the last barrel to the Buddhist Temple, an attaché of the Japanese consulate and Dr. Fursawa joined Yamamoto at the Temple. Around noon, Dr. Furasawa, Yamamoto and an unidentified may leave the temple, each carefully carrying a mysterious package under their arms. The ONI assumed each package contained a sample of the liquid from the barrel. The three men when their separate ways – Yamamoto went to LAX to catch a flight back to Seattle, Dr. Furasawa returned to his office, and the unidentified man 129 ½ East First Street, the headquarters of a Japanese organization known as the Southern California Imperial Veterans. Presumably it was a social organization for foreign-born Japanese, but suspected of yet another group embedded in the business of espionage. The ONI ascertained that the unidentified third man was Dr. Rikita Honda, a Japanese alien they had been tracking for and known for holding secretive meetings with other Japanese nationals. After heading home, Honda met Dr. Furasawa and a Consular attaché at Furasawa’s hospital on Weller Street. The three of them left Los Angeles with ONI agents following. The three Japanese men made their way back to Terminal Island, where more ONI agents waited but did not confront.

Two other Japanese men met the three, and the five of them make their way to a remote part of a pier at Terminal Island. There, they revealed and opened the packages that they had received from the Buddhist Temple. The packages contained liquid, which they pour into the water. The water began to bubble, but the five men quickly departed. Hours passed, and the federal operatives wanted to investigate. But, they hold back, lest their cover be blown – the pier was teaming with Japanese, many assumed to be spies themselves. Eventually, the five men returned. One by one, they descended on a ladder to the water level with a flashlight to take a look at the results from their mysterious liquid. As each ascended, they were jubilant over their findings. They were all most celebratory over their findings as they discuss their results. It was all in Japanese, so the agents were unsure of what was being discussed. But, of course, they had suspected they had conducted a successful experiment with the acid producing liquid that eats steel when coming in contact with salt water.

Many more hours passed. It was nearly dawn. No one was left on the pier. The ONI agents believed it was safe to take a look, and not raise suspicions over their identities. One by one, each descended down the ladder, also with a flashlight. Upon ascending the ladder, the agents’ responses were much different than the Japanese – responses of concern, dismay, and shock. Indeed, the strange liquid had eaten away at steel cabling that secured the dock to the pier’s pylons.

Knowledge of the experiment’s result spread quickly. Yamamoto was informed immediately by Furasawa, the Consular attaché reports back to Tokyo upon returning the consulate, and ONI agents file their reports. Harrison was informed immediately, and J Edgar Hoover was made aware by the afternoon.

With the help of Mexican Federal Agents and their new suspicions of the barrels of dangerous liquids, the United States federal agents infiltrated the abandoned flourmill in Ensenada. Their suspicions were confirmed – indeed, 35 barrels contained the toxic liquid that would explode via a magnetic actuator when an American military vessel passed over them. Once exposed to salt water, a gummy acid would form and cling to the underside of the ships and render them disabled as the acid would eat its way through their steel hulls. It was a marvel of modern chemistry.


Mysteriously, the flour mill caught fire and burns to the ground with all of its contents, just as the Flying Cloud was returning to pick up the barrels.


Hoover, after careful consideration, informed President Roosevelt in a broad and detailed report of the eminent threat of Japan with the help of the Germans. The bubbling acid was the final detail that convinced Hoover that Roosevelt must know of the threat the Japanese, and in particular Yamamoto, posed.

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