Top military and government officials meet in Mukden, Manchukuo in late 1936 to discuss the forthcoming war with the Chinese, Americans, Netherlands and French. The Emperor of Japan and others had developed a plan to finance the expansion of their military and to construct the ships, planes and other military hardware that would be required in ordered to implement their plans.
In December 1937 Japan had openly declared war on China and had surrounded the Chinese Capitol of Nanking. Prince Chichibu, the younger brother of Emperor Hirohito had been selected to head the ultra secret treasure recovery team. The Prime Minister, Prince Asaka had come from the Emperor with instructions to fully implement the plan. This led to the Rape of Nanking and the death of 300,000 Chinese civilians and military. Many had been tortured to reveal the locations of treasures and summarily executed. This secret team was given a code name of the Golden Lily after a poem the Emperor had once written. 6000 metric tons of gold were recovered from Nanking alone plus silver and precious stones. It was a good beginning and acted as a training ground for the secret team. Emperor Hirohito was pleased.
Chapters 3 - 4 Winston Churchill, the wartime Prime Minister of Great Britain, met
with Lord Beaverbrook in July 1940. France had just fallen to Hitler's blitzkreig. The Germans had
amassed their troops in the ports of France ready to cross the English Channel and invade Britain.
Churchill had learned that the French had transferred their national treasures to French Indochina
just before they had signed an armistice with the Germans. He had also learned from the Queen of
The Netherlands that they had moved their treasures to the Dutch East Indies. He and the King of
England decided to move the British treasures to the supposedly safe island fortress of Singapore
off the southern tip of the Malay peninsula.
A year later Japan had sunk most of the
American Pacific fleet with a sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. By early January 1942 Japan's victories
had been nothing short of miraculous. Guam and Wake lands had fallen. Japan had assimilated
Thailand and the northern part of French Indochina. The Japanese had launched a vigorous
invasion of the Philippine Islands and were pushing the Americans into a final defensive position on
Bataan. Her armies were fighting their way down the Malay Peninsula approaching Singapore.
Although the Japanese were encountering little resistance they were greatly outnumbered by the
British and Indian troops. In China, Japan had taken most of the major port cities and on Christmas
Day 1941, had forced the British into surrendering Hong Kong. The Golden Lily team had been
greatly expanded to handle these rapidly changing situations. It is fair to say that they were actually
Emperor Hirohito had requested Prince Chichibu to fly to Hanoi in French Indochina to meet with his
younger brother Prince Mikasa. The Japanese secret police had learned that France had sent their
National Treasures there.
But, where were they hidden? Prince Chichibu had ordered
the torture of the Bankers and former Diplomats in order to find out. They learned the treasure had
been sent to Saigon by rail just before the Japanese troops had moved into Hanoi. The treasure
had been hidden in the ruins of an ancient temple at the en of track. The excitement of this recovery
was only overshadowed by later events.
Chapters 5 - 6
The fortress of
Singapore fell to General Yamashita and with General MacArthur being ordered out of the
Philippines, the last American and Filipino troops on Bataan and Corregidor surrendered to
General Homma. The infamous Death March began. The Japanese victories on all fronts were
extremely heady. They began to believe in their own invincibility. Burma was now in Japanese
hands and invasion plans had been drawn up for a move into Northern Australia. Asia and
Southeast Asia and most of the Islands in the Pacific were as good as theirs.
Chichibu in Singapore was elated when his team found the treasures of Britain stored in the banks.
The collection of wealth throughout the conquered lands continued. With over 5000 years of Asia's
antiquity to pillage, the amounts collected were astronomical. Far surpassing what was thought to
be the total amount of gold ever mined throughout history. With Shanghai in their hands the Golden
Lily team found themselves stretched to the limit in keeping up with the collection and melting down
of the precious metals.
Another surprise experienced by Prince Chichibu was the
discovery that the Dutch had moved their treasures to Batavia in the Netherlands East Indies. Now,
not only did Japan have the wealth of the Asian continent, but they were rewarded with much of the
European treasures as well. Hitler's loss was Japan's gain.
Japan's luck had begun to
run out by May 1942. Their first setback was the Battle of the Coral Sea where the Allies had forced
Japan to turn back her invasion fleet which they had planned to land in New Guinea. The following
month they suffered a further major setback with the Battle of Midway where Japan lost four of her
front line fleet carriers and the cream of her trained aviators. These were the same ships and pilots
that had attacked Pearl Harbor five months earlier. In August 1942 the Americans landed an
invasion force on Guadalcanal. Japan tried for months to dislodge the stubborn American Marines
but eventually had to concede this unknown but important island base. After that Japan could never
again launch another major offensive anywhere. The war would continue for another three years
while the Japanese slowly lost the lands that they had conquered. Japan's dream was over and
their nightmare had begun.
By mid-1942 American submarines and aircraft had begun to
take a serious toll on Japanese shipping. Prince Chichibu could no longer send the many tons of
treasure back to Japan with any guarantee that it would get there and not end up on the bottom of
the ocean floor. Actually he had to revise his thinking about where to send the treasures after the
Midway fiasco. Following a meeting with his brother, the Emperor, it was decided that the treasures
should be hidden in the Philippine Islands. Why the Philippines? Because Japan was certain that
they would end up with these islands during surrender negotiations with the Allies. Also, it was the
shortest distance from Hong Kong and Singapore where the material was being processed.
Prince Chichibu had begun shipping material to the Philippines even before this
decision was made. It was originally intended to be sent on to Japan in returning war ships. The
Prince was still nervous about these shipments even after the decision was made. He
commandeered four large freighters and had them painted all white with a red cross on their sides.
These were "hospital" ships which he loaded with the many treasures. To be absolutely sure that
even these ships were not molested he announced their movement on a clear radio channel so that
the Americans would know their times of departure and their courses.