SGM Herbert A. Friedman (Ret.)

Note: Images from this article were used in a Naval War College book on the destruction of Japanese transportation, primarily focused on its shipping assets: An Accidental Campaign: Destruction of Japanese Transportation during the Great Pacific War.

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I have written about a dozen articles on various Allied and enemy leaflets of WWII. In general, there were two basic kinds of American white leaflets used in the Pacific. “White” leaflets are those that are clearly American in origin. “Black” leaflets are covert and hide their origin and might appear to be Japanese military or civilian documents.

The U.S. Navy used Office of War Information (OWI) personnel to produce leaflets on Saipan Island. The leaflets were coded numerically, examples being 350 or 2400. The U.S. Army under General MacArthur produced leaflets that were coded with the letter “J,” examples being 10-J-1 or 15-J-3.The first numeral is the number of the leaflet in the series, the last numeral is the unit, so 20-J-6 would be the 20th leaflet produced for the U.S. 6th Army. In some cases the same general leaflet was produced by both the Army and the Navy, though there might be minor changes in the vignette or the text. The Army also printed some leaflets with an “F’ instead of a “J,” these for the Filipinos. Readers who want to see more leaflets used in the Philippines should read my article A U.S. Army Newspaper Editor in the WWII Philippines.

There seems to have been some interchange between the Army and Navy PSYOP organizations. We see very similar images and text used by both, and in some of the leaflet data collected by Army personnel we find OWI leaflets. In the J. Robert Sandberg / Frank M. Hallgren PWB archives we find both types of leaflets. For example, they donated the following leaflets to the University of Nebraska:

Propaganda Leaflets and Text, Nos. 500-2026 (OWI)
U.S. Propaganda Leaflets, Serial Nos. 2J1-123J1 (PWB)

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OWI Leaflet 520 / PWB Leaflet 04-J-1

We are not exactly sure of the extent of “partnership” but there must have been considerable interchange and correspondence between the two organizations or how would Sandberg and Hallgren in the Philippine Islands have accumulated so many leaflets prepared by the OWI in Saipan. We know that there were some OWI personnel attached to Allied headquarters to help with PSYOP planning and perhaps they were able to give the PWB propagandists some of their material to use as reference. For instance, OWI leaflet 520 “Militarists oppose Surrender” is found in the PWB files coded 04-J-1. OWI leaflet 518 “American Generosity” is found in the PWB files coded 03-J-1. The first “0” may indicate that the leaflet was also OWI.

In March, 2017, another PWB book appeared that had a great number of the OWI leaflets so there was apparently more interchange between the two organizations than I would have thought. The OWI leaflets were numbered: 104, 106, 403, 405, 407, 408, 410, 411, 507, 519, 701A, 706, 809, 2006 and 2009.

For more information on the OWI see my article OWI Pacific PSYOP Six Decades Ago.

The OWI Leaflet Newsletter dated 1 September 1945 (final issue). Tells us a little bit about the arrangement between the two propaganda agencies:

There was close liaison between the OWI representatives in PWB, and the OWI Honolulu office. Many of the leaflets distributed by the former were created and printed in Honolulu. Likewise, the “Rakkasan News,” a Philippines newspaper, was dropped in quantity by Superforts based in the Marianas.

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An Early OWI Training Leaflet

A booklet entitled OWI Leaflet Maneuvers dated 6 October 1944 actually has an example of early OWI attempts at preparing a leaflet for Japan. The class was held in San Francisco without benefit of instruction or advice on leaflet technique from anyone with field experience. Eight new OWI agents were tasked with producing five leaflets completely on their own. They were assigned an artist named Gene Schnell, a Japanese translator named Sung Soo Whang, and a Davidson Printing Pressman named Richard Hubert.

Richard and another agent named Vic Glasband designed and wrote the third leaflet aimed at Filipinos to encourage resistance and to urge the overthrow of the Japanese on the Philippine Islands. They used a rather famous 1943 “War Production Board” Manuel Rey Isip image of a fighting Filipino already being used as a patriotic poster on the front, and added a long propaganda text on the back. The poster of course is in full color, the leaflet printed on the Davidson Press is in black and white. Some of the text in Tagalog is:


It was the dream of Rizal that one day the banner of National Sovereignty would wave over the Philippines

At the very brink of realization the dream of Rizal and the work for freedom of the Filipinos were frustrated by Japanese conquest and occupation…

People of the Philippines, soon you will have the opportunity to join hands with your old friends, General MacArthur, who respects and reveres the noble flame of freedom that burns within the hearts of all Filipinos. Together we will deal a smashing blow to the Japanese and thus assure the liberation of the Philippines.

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General MacArthur

The story of General MacArthur’s escape from the Philippines is well known. American resistance was crumbling, and President Roosevelt, realizing the tremendous propaganda victory the capture of an American general would mean to the Japanese, ordered MacArthur to escape on PT boat 41, 11 March 1942, and on 18 April 1942assume the office of Supreme Commander, South West Pacific Area (SWPA) with headquarters in Australia. He was now in command of American Army, Navy and Air units as well as Australian, British and Dutch military forces in the Southwest Pacific.

Far Eastern Liaison Office

The Australians had been at war as part of the British Commonwealth for several years. Realizing the need for psychological operations (PSYOP), they began printing and disseminating leaflets in August 1942. Prior to 1944, the Australian agency known as the Far Eastern Liaison Office (FELO) was responsible for disseminating propaganda to all enemy troops and civilians. FELO produced more than 58 million leaflets in six different languages and numerous native dialects. The Australian War Memorial has 2,635 different FELO leaflets in its collection.

The Allied Intelligence Bureau (AIB) served as Gen. Douglas MacArthur's intelligence and covert action organization from July 1942 to the end of the war. It was a combined U.S.-Australian activity headquartered in Melbourne. FELO operated as Section D of the AIB. In June 1944 when MacArthur authorized the Psychological Warfare Bureau, FELO was confined to operations involving Australian, British and Dutch forces.

Author Martin Bennett mentions Allied propaganda booklets reaching the Philippines in late 1942. These could have been FELO or AIB products:

Mitsuo Fuchida was in the Philippines in the fall of 1943 establishing air bases and while in a Japanese-occupied military dwelling was thunderstruck to find, on a table, several copies of a booklet entitled “I Shall Return.” The issues that Fuchida referred to were from December 1942 to May 1943. “Now I understood much more clearly the hostility of the local people. Such literature as this gave them hope and encouragement, assuring them that their allies had neither forgotten them now written them off as expendable. If the United States could smuggle these into the Philippines, it could also bring in munitions, supplies and agents.” 

Note: Fuchida was the lead pilot in the attack on Pearl Harbor. He was interviewed by historian Gordon William Prange in a book entitled God’s Samurai: lead pilot at Pearl Harbor. 


The Nightmares of Lieutenant Ichi

About booklets and publications, the PWB prepared several for use in the Philippines. Some of them are: 1-BF-1 Philippine Omnibook 10,000 issues; 2-BA-1 Psychology of the Japanese Soldier 1,000; 3-BF-1 Philippine Commentary 8500; 4-BA-1 Paper Bullets 6,000; 5-BA-1 Answer to Japan 1,000; and 6-BF-1 Little Ichi (Comic) 10,000 copies. The codes are "A" American, "B" Booklet, and "F" Filipino. 

Stanley Sandler, in Cease Resistance: It’s Good for you! A history of U.S. Army Combat Psychological Operations, 1999, lists the ten basic rules of psychological warfare adopted by FELO:

1. Be Paternal but not cold.

2. Avoid a superior attitude.

3. Do not offend or humiliate the enemy.

4. Avoid boasting.

5. Never blame the psywar recipients for the war.

6. Never corner the enemy without showing a way out.

7. Iterate that death is not the natural destiny of the Japanese soldier.

8. Be sincere.

9. Encourage psywar targets to draw their own conclusions.

10. Show that Japan could have a bright postwar future.

In An Introduction to Wartime Leaflets, Carl Berger writes about “Selection of Themes:

Leaflet messages, particularly in tactical leaflets, should avoid ridicule of the target and use of sophisticated political propaganda themes, and should concentrate on the use of simple messages directed to the target's basic and immediate needs and wants.

In writing or preparing a propaganda leaflet, there are no strict rules. We have learned, partly from the effect of German leaflets on our own troops, partly from other evidence, that hostile, condescending or sarcastic leaflets—no matter how much fun to write—defeat their own purpose. In a war among soldiers, recognition of the enemy’s soldierly qualities, credit for bravery, soldier-to-soldier talk (where these matters are pertinent and justifiable) are like butter on bread —they make it swallow easier.

The Leyte campaign during the liberation of the Philippines, a Seventh Division leaflet writer strongly objected to the sarcastic approach to the Japanese soldiers: "Why should we address them as 'Rats in a Trap' or caricature them as 'Sad Sacks?' These things only infuriate them and provide their officers with something to create unity in trying circumstances and to further their resistance."

Language specialists with the Seventh Division, who interrogated Japanese prisoners, agreed that American leaflets should include such things as praise for the Japanese soldier for his heroic conduct and a brief statement of the tactical situation, without exaggeration. "Any ridicule of the individual Japanese soldiers," they reported, "belittlement of his equipment, or insulting his leaders was found to create an adverse effect."

There were some members of the American Office of War Information assigned to the Australians, but MacArthur wanted none at his headquarters and no Office of Strategic Services (OSS) personnel in his entire theatre.On the rare occasion when MacArthur seemed to relent, his aides who were managing the various espionage and propaganda units put their foot down. They were very protective of the General. There are some wonderful stories of the "espionage" operations that took place as our friendly forces tried to infiltrate MacArthur's headquarters. The OSS managed to get a naval officer into MacArthur's HQ in the Philippines; he was ferreted out and sent home. Our British Allies in M.I. 6 were so frustrated at their lack of knowledge of what MacArthur was doing that they used Ian Morrison, a reporter of the London Times in Australia as a spy. When MacArthur's chief of the Psychological Warfare Branch submitted a plan for secret operations against Japan the OSS criticized it. MacArthur's headquarters responded, "Our experts state that your experts are obviously mere superficial observers."

We find another mention of the general’s distrust of the OSS in A Covert Affair, Jennet Conant, Simon and Shuster, New York, 2011:

…MacArthur loathed Donovan with a monumental hatred. The antagonism between the two was so deep that MacArthur had even sworn to court martial any OSS member caught operating in what he considered his exclusive territory. Rumor had it that the feud had its roots in the fact that Donovan had won the Congressional Medal of Honor during World War I, for capturing a German machine-gun nest single-handed, while MacArthur had been twice nominated for the medal and been twice denied…

Note the word “rumor” above. There may be no truth to the story.

While I personally believe that MacArthur did not want the OSS in his area because he did not want civilians that were not under his direct control in that area, it may be that MacArthur had a legitimate excuse not to allow the OSS into his area.  Bob Stahl says in the book, You're No Good to me Dead – Behind Japanese Lines in the Philippines, that MacArthur had his own AIB which was very much like the OSS:

One of the best kept secrets of World War II is the story of the activities of the Allied Intelligence Bureau (AIB). In the southwest Pacific area, the AIB, an operating agency of theater G2 (Intelligence), was the counterpart of the Office of Strategic Services in the other theaters. It carried out clandestine activities behind enemy lines from the Solomons to Singapore, from Port Moresby to Manila, reporting Japanese shipping movements, aerial activities, weather information, and military intelligence. And inter-Allied agency, the AIB was comprised of Australian, British, Dutch, and American intelligence units, each operating in the geographical areas that had been under their country’s jurisdiction before the Japanese invasion. By penetrating Japanese-held islands far in advance of the many military campaigns, AIB agents gathering intelligence information paved the way for the Allied victory over Japan.

The Philippine Regional Section (PRS) was the AIB's operating arm in the American sector. Under the PRS the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion (Special), an amalgamation of the 5217th reconnaissance Battalion provisional and a 978th signal service company, furnished these intelligence gathering services throughout the Philippine archipelago. The first Reconnaissance Battalion and the 978th signal service company were the first and only army units to undertake such a specialized mission during the second world war. While similar functions were carried out in other theaters, they were executed by the Office of Strategic Services, not the US Army. To this day, the story of these activities remains one of World War II the best kept secrets.  

Major General Charles A. Willoughby defends MacArthur’s WWII decision in MacArthur 1941-1951, McGraw-Hill, NY, 1951:

In Washington, “Wild Bill” Donovan’s OSS operatives had a fixed idea that they were arbitrarily kept out of MacArthur’s Southwest Pacific Theater. Actually, MacArthur had to go along without the OSS because he couldn’t afford to wait for it. Unlike the war in Europe, the U.S. war in Asia was a “shooting war” from the start. Where the OSS in Washington had time to gather information about North Africa, about the “soft underbelly” of the Axis in the Mediterranean and about Europe in general, MacArthur had to improvise his intelligence from scratch with the Japanese breathing down his neck…

His G2 section was handed the job of organizing an Allied Translator and Interpreter Section (ATIS) to interrogate prisoners and translate captured documents; an Allied Intelligence Bureau (AIB) to conduct clandestine operations, sabotage and espionage behind enemy lines (a counterpart of OSS); an Allied Geographical section (AGS) to gather and publish geographical information; and a Central Bureau (CB) to provide crypto- analytical services. To help get accurate information about what the Japanese were up to, the AIB took over the Royal Australian Navy’s system of “coast watchers.”

Colonel Allison Ind gives another reason in for the rejection of OSS assets in Allied Intelligence Bureau – Our Secret Weapon Against Japan, McKay Company, 1958. Allison says:

MacArthur felt that the various unorthodox units he was taking over from General Blaney [Australia] and the Dutch might submit to a certain amount of control from him there on the spot, but he was convinced that an attempt at domination by or absorption into another intelligence unit based in Washington would prove to be unworkable.

Starting about mid-1943, all leaflets had to be approved by South West Pacific Area headquarters. MacArthur was starting to realize the value of psychological warfare.

Psychological Warfare Branch

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Psychological Warfare Branch Emblem

MacArthur used the Australians to help train his own people, drafted some FELO specialists and in June 1944 authorized the formation of the Psychological Warfare Branch (PWB). This agency actually existed to help MacArthur reconquer the Philippines, a burning desire that had driven him since his defeat by the Japanese. As a result, the two organization’s areas of responsibility were divided, with FELO targeting the old Australian, British, and Dutch areas while the PWB targeted the Philippines.

The PWB is mentioned in the classified report Intelligence in War – MacArthur’s Intelligence Service 1941-1945. It says in part:

The establishment of an American Psychological Warfare Branch (PWB) was approved by the Chief of Staff as a continuation of FELO, then operating primarily in British and Dutch territories. Leaflets were fired from 25-pounders and mortars, and thousands were dropped by the U.S. Air Force. Front-line broadcasts were developed to send messages to Japanese troops. Mobile propaganda units exploited recently reoccupied and enemy occupied territory to win native support for the Allied forces. In the battle for Manila, radio broadcasts were frequently employed in the expectation of lowering enemy morale and inducing the Japanese to surrender…In the period 1942 to 1945 a total of 222 million leaflets and news sheets were produced [this would be by FELO and PWB combined].

Major Steve A Fondacaro mentioned the MacArthur's PWB in his 1988 Command and General Staff College Master of Military Art and Science Thesis titled: Strategic Analysis of U.S. Special Operations during the Korean Conflict, 1950-1953. He said in part:

In the Pacific theater, psychological operations in MacArthur's Southwestern Pacific Area/Far Eastern Command (SWPA/FEC) were conducted by the Far Eastern Liaison Office (FELO), an Australian agency under the Allied Intelligence Bureau (AIB) which controlled all clandestine activities in the theater. Formed in June 1942, FELO primarily conducted leaflet drops and radio broadcasts up until the SWPA/FEC assault upon the Philippines. In June 1944, MacArthur formed the Psychological Warfare Branch (PWB), a primarily American unit, under FELO. It focused on leaflet drops, artillery delivered leaflets, newspaper drops and radio broadcasts to the Philippines and, later, Japan.

PWB initially consisted of seventeen U.S. Army officers, and twenty enlisted men. They were joined by nine Australian members of FELO. Some OWI personnel were also attached to Allied headquarters to help with PSYOP planning. We should point out that the two organizations often worked closely together and some leaflets appear to have been dropped by both. In this article we will call all the “J” leaflets Psychological Warfare Branch, but it is understood that they might have been created with the help of the Australians and may have been disseminated in some of FELO’s areas of operations. For instance, although a “restricted” document dated 1 December 1944 from The Psychological Warfare Detachment at SWPA headquarters clearly shows leaflet 6J1 (Abandoned) as a U.S. product, the Guide to the FELO Collection of the Australian War Memorial states that it is an Australian leaflet to Japanese troops. It is possible that since the Americans and Australians worked in partnership at PWB both sides took credit for the leaflet. In general the fact sheets that translated all the PWB leaflets used the following heading: Psychological Warfare Branch, U.S. Army Forces, Pacific Area, APO 500.

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Brigadier General Bonner F. Fellers

Brigadier General Bonner F. Fellers was MacArthur’s personal secretary and assigned as his psychological Warfare (PSYWAR) chief and thus in charge of PWB. In 1935 he wrote a paper entitled: The Psychology of the Japanese Soldier. Colonel Al Paddock says in U.S. Army Special Warfare - Its Origins, University of Kansas Press, KS, 2002:

Fellers, a 1918 West Point graduate, was one of a very few U.S. senior officers in the Pacific who had actually studied the Japanese military in some depth prior to the war. His “Basic Military Plan for Psychological Warfare in the Southwest Pacific Area,” completed in August 1944, provided the Psychological Warfare Branch with its organizational structure, goals, and operating procedures. Fellers believed that the purpose of psychological warfare was “to further the military effort by weakening the fighting spirit of the enemy and thus hasten Japan's decision to surrender.”

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Feller’s original Study: The Psychology of the Japanese Soldier 1934ueger-1935

In his Foreword to the Basic Military Plan for Psychological Warfare in the Southwest Pacific Area he wrote:

All commanders realize the importance of high morale as a major factor in military success. To lower morale in an enemy army is as vital a mission as to establish and maintain high morale among our own troops.

A soundly conceived, effectively executed campaign of psychological warfare is as basic a part of any modern military operation as are tactics and logistics.

Enemy armies are comprised of soldiers who are individuals - people. What these people think and believe governs what they do, how well they fight and how long they fight. The mental attitudes of enemy civilians likewise have a direct and important bearing on the duration of the war and a close relationship to the fighting effectiveness of enemy troops.

Psychological warfare is the MILITARY application of the science, which analyzes, predicts and influences the behavior of people. In this theater, it includes all activity directed against Japan except guerilla and orthodox warfare and physical sabotage.

A properly directed psychological warfare program in the Far East could achieve objectives of far reaching consequence. A stubborn China, the heroic resistance of the Philippine people, and the stupidity of the Japanese aggressors prevented a racial war. Only by winning the peace can we avert a future racial war.

The favorable reaction of Oriental peoples to invading forces from the West is dependent upon a clear understanding of Western tolerance and liberalism. It is a responsibility of psychological warfare agencies to inform Oriental peoples of the idealistic and unselfish purposes of our war aims. Establishment of mutual respect and trust between Occidental and Oriental peoples presents to psychological warfare agencies a challenge of the highest order.

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The Completed Feller's Plan studied by American forces at the Conference on Psychological Warfare against Japan in Manila,
7-8 May 1945. Each unit gave a presentation, including the Sixth Army, Eighth Army, Tenth Army, Seventh Fleet, etc.

In the plan, Fellers explains what a Psychological Warfare Branch would be and what it would do:

1. That the Psychological Warfare Branch can further the military effort against Japan by developing programs which seek to achieve the following objectives:Undermine morale by convincing the Japanese that: a. Military defeat is inevitable. Their land and air forces are inadequate; their tactics and strategy inferior; their fleet impotent. b. Their country is blockaded; their Pan-Asiatic dream is dead. c. Their country is divided. Disunity exists among the army, navy, and air forces; between civil and military population; officers and men. d. Continuation of the war will destroy Japan.

2. Charge the military clique with the responsibility of the war: a. Cite their incompetence in foreign affairs, on the home and fighting fronts. b. Prove they have lied and are still lying about the war. c. Explain their exploitation of racial prejudice. d. Show their misrepresentation of Western people.  e. Charge them with the responsibility for a national disaster. f. Drive a wedge between the Emperor and the people on the one hand, and the military clique on the other.

3. Encourage the people to: a. Seek self-preservation. b. Rally to save what is left of their country. c. Destroy the military clique and form a "Peace government." d. Throw themselves on the mercy of the United States.  e. Sue for peace on our terms.

Brigadier General, G.S.C.,
Military Secretary to the C.-in-C.

Apparently, Feller’s report on the Japanese soldiers caused him some problems, He had shown it to several people and mailed it to some others for comments. A 28 February 1940 memorandum from the Adjutant general advises him that his research study was official as part of his military duties and was improperly shown to others. He is ordered to collect all the copies he has distributed and report when that is done.

On 18 December 1942, William J. Donovan requested that Brigadier General Fellers be designated an OSS representative in the Southwest Pacific area. That is odd because MacArthur had blocked all OSS interference in his domain. Sure enough, on 22 December 1942, a letter to Donovan explains that MacArthur is working with the Australians and has no need for a PSYOP officer. On 21 January 1943, Feller was appointed a member of the OSS in Washington D.C.

On 12 October 1943 General fellers received a letter thanking him for his 8 months working with the OSS Planning Group. On 9 December 1943 he is ordered along with 16 other officers to General Headquarters, Southwest Pacific Area, signed by General MacArthur. Apparently, MacArthur understood that OSS period was simply an assignment and Fellers was still a military man and loyal to his commander. On 28 March 1943, MacArthur named Fellers his Assistant Chief of Staff G-1 (Personnel). On 28 September 1944, MacArthur decides to form a G-5 Section to oversee Psychological Warfare and Civil Affairs. On 14 October 1944, Fellers G-5 Section consists of 10 commissioned officers and 12 enlisted men.

On 27 November 1944 Fellers is moved from G-5 to Military Secretary to the Commander in Chief. Apparently, Macarthur had great faith in him. He held that position until December 1945. Fellers also held the additional duty of Chief of the Psychological Warfare Bureau from 2 May 1945 until 1 March 1946.

On 20 April 1945 a special form for General Officers describes Fellers:

A conscientious hard-working officer of sound judgement and excellent military ability who has had wide experience as a military observer and liaison officer. His service as an observer in forward areas has been outstanding. He is well educated, extremely tactful, and has a pleasing personality which makes him well liked by his associates. His physical endurance is excellent. Cool and effective under pressure.Completely loyal.

MacArthur asked that Fellers be made a Major General. Apparently, MacArthur’s recommendation was not approved. On 3 February 1946 with the war over Fellers was returned to his old permanent rank of Colonel. On 27 June 1945, Fellers requested retirement after 28 years of service. On 30 November 1946 his retirement was made official. After his retirement Feller’s rank was returned to Brigadier General on 16 August 1948. Fellers died of congestive heart failure at 0815 on 7 October 1973.

Among Feller’s higher awards and decorations are two Distinguished Service Medals and a Legion of Merit Medal. General MacArthur personally wrote the request for a second Distinguished Service medal and said in part:

Under his personal direction. Psychological Warfare not only made a material contribution to the war effort, but as investigation in Japan has disclosed, actually influenced and speed Japan’s decision to surrender. The Emperor himself has stated that Psychological Warfare was most effective in forcing him to hasten the end of the war…

Allison B Gilmore says in You Can't Fight Tanks With Bayonets, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, NE, 1998:

Feller's “Basic Military Plan” established three functional divisions with PWB: the Collation Section, the Planning Department, and the Production Section. Situated between these three sections and the Office of the Military Secretary in the chain of command was the executive officer, Colonel J. Woodall Greene. As executive officer, Greene implemented Feller's plans and policies, supervised administration, and coordinated the work of the three section chiefs and the field units. He also comprised the “Weekly Military Plan for Psychological Warfare” designed to achieve the organization's objectives in light of the changing military situation. Each week's plan was submitted to Fellers for his approval, and then distributed to the Collation, Planning and Production divisions to insure a coordinated effort.

The Collation Section studied intelligence reports from all over the Asia and the Pacific and identified Japanese vulnerabilities and ways to exploit them. The Planning Department prepared the PSYWAR operations. It scheduled leaflets drops, newspaper publication and radio broadcasts. It forwarded weekly directives to the Production Section where the newscasts, leaflets. news-letters and magazines were actually produced.

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What the Japanese PW thinks of Thought Warfare

Since we mention the Collation Section we should depict one classified confidential publication that was produced by that section entitled What the Japanese PW thinks of Thought Warfare. This 3 May 1945 PWB booklet was meant to teach the PWB staff what was right and what was wrong with their leaflets. The reader will notice that we mention Japanese critiques of many of the leaflets in this article. In most cases those comments came from this booklet.

Many of the Japanese prisoners were more than happy to help the Americans. One suggested three major themes:

  1. The Japanese soldier must be convinced that he will be treated humanely upon surrender.
  2. The Japanese soldier must be convinced that American weapons are far superior to his own.
  3. The Japanese soldier must understand the hopelessness of his own situation, and those of other Japanese in other sectors.

Of course, it was not only the Americans who wanted to influence the Filipinos by the use of propaganda. The Japanese were also busy from their first day of occupation as is documented by the classified confidential G2 (Intelligence) report, Japanese Propaganda in the Philippines, dated 25 February 1945. The report says that from the beginning of the Japanese occupation an extensive and systematic propaganda program was set into motion. The report quotes from a captured “Most Secret” Japanese military administration document. The Japanese document is over 20 pages long so we shall just mention a few pertinent points:

We must promptly revive in the Filipinos the spirit of the Far East. We must encourage them to live and die along with us by rousing their racial pride…We must study and understand the Filipinos as to their character, values, racial characteristics, racial feelings, customs, habits, virtues and faults…Propaganda must be promptly adapted to the characteristics of the area, to the existing attitudes of the people, particularly where they are concentrated.

Curiously, after studying their new proposed allies, the Japanese listed their characteristics. These were not very flattering. Of the 26 Filipino traits, we note:

They are four-flushers and show-offs; they are lazy and despise labor; they are much inclined to gambling and idleness; their standard of good taste is very low; they like drinking exceedingly; they can tell lies so calmly that it is very hard to tell whether it is true or not.  

With this attitude toward the Filipinos, it is easy to see why they treated them badly and were never able to win their loyalty and friendship. The Japanese Propaganda campaign was four steps.

1. The first was anti-American propaganda with the regular use of such terms as “American Imperialism,” “American exploitation,” and “American tyranny.”

2. The second step was the liberation of the Philippines with constant reminders that America did not liberate the Philippines, but the Japanese had every intention of doing so. The Japanese regularly used such terms as “the free and independent Philippines, “the Philippine Republic,” and “the Philippines for the Filipinos.”

3. The third step was the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. Once the Philippines were free of American influence and believed itself to be an Asian nation the Japanese would absorb it into their Co-Prosperity Sphere, a union of all Asian peoples they called, “one big family of equitable give and take.”

4. The final step was the use of pro-Japanese propaganda to create a willingness of the Filipinos to submit and accept guidance from the Japanese Empire.

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U.S. Sixth Army Commander Lieutenant General Walter Krueger

General MacArthur had personally selected Walter Krueger as one of his commanders. He said about him:

I don’t think history has given him due credit for his greatness. I do not believe that the annals of America have shown his superiority as an army commander. Swift and sure in attack; tenacious and determined in defense; modest and restrained in victory – I don’t know what he would have been in defeat because he was never defeated. The great mantle of Stonewall Jackson would certainly fit his ample frame.

MacArthur argued with Krueger on several occasions when he wanted the Sixth Army to race into enemy territory to gain ground at the risk of his soldiers. On one occasion he demanded that Manila be taken by his birthday, on another he moved his HQ ahead of Krueger’s trying to embarrass him into an attack. Krueger was a soldier’s general and refused to send his men forward with exposed flanks where they might be surrounded and killed. He believed in Special Forces and used the Alamo Scouts as a long range reconnaissance unit to find and identify the enemy. He formed his own Ranger Battalion. In the early fighting in New Guinea, Krueger had a 14 to 1 kill ratio over the Japanese troops. When he landed in the Philippines and was greatly outnumbered against a dug-in enemy, Krueger upped the ratio to 19 to 1. Near the end of the battle when he was fighting die-hard fanatics in Manila, Krueger reached a 21 to 1 ratio. Even after the arguments about Krueger’s careful planning and the way he nurtured his soldiers, MacArthur chose him to lead the ground forces for the prospective invasion of the Japanese homeland. He had complete faith in his subordinate. Of course, the dropping of the atom bombs assured that invasion would never take place.

Leaflet 11-J-6 - "General Krueger's Personal Message to Japanese Troops

On 7 December 1944, General Krueger wrote a personal letter to defeated and isolated Japanese troops. The text on the front is:

A Message to Japanese Troops from the American Troop Commander

Some of the text on the back is:

To all Japanese Soldiers

The officers and men of the American Army adhere to the rules and regulations of Geneva. If you are captured or voluntarily surrender, you will receive honorable treatment. You will receive food, medicine, and clothing. You will not be tortured or killed. Neither your name nor your picture will be sent to Japan. You will be in no danger of disgrace.

Walter Krueger
Commanding General
U.S. Forces

[Author's Note]: Curiously, this appeal by Krueger was not approved for distribution and was withdrawn. A 16 December 1944 note from General Bonner Fellers accompanying the disapproval said that “The leaflet was prepared by the G-2 Office, Sixth Army. They have been advised that future leaflets that future leaflets, if signed, will be signed by the C in C."  I believe that means that General MacArthur told Krueger that any future leaflets signed as "Commander"ť would come from him.  

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U.S. Army Tank Approaches 6th Army Headquarters in the Philippines

The U.S. Sixth Army, Commanded by Lieutenant General Walter Krueger, the son of a WWI Prussian Army officer, was deeply involved in leaflet design and production even before they reached the Philippines. Carl Berger mentions their PSYOP during the Philippine campaign in: An Introduction to Wartime leaflets, The American University Special Operations Research Office, Washington D.C., 1959. He says in regard to the U.S. Sixth Army and the leaflets in general:

On 11 September 1944 the G2 (Intelligence section) of the Sixth Army, which had been designated to make the invasion, drew up a detailed "Basic Sixth Army Plan for Psychological Warfare." The plan concluded that it was essential that the propaganda campaign against the Japanese should “create a receptive attitude toward leaflets, to develop confidence in our truthfulness and possible dependence upon our leaflets as a source of news concealed by their own leaders.

The initial invasion of the island of Leyte was scheduled for 20 October 1944. In preparation, propaganda personnel scattered around the Pacific were formed into special units and placed on temporary duty with Army headquarters. They wrote and produced large numbers of "advance" leaflets, including civilian bomb warnings and other instruction leaflets for the people of the Philippines. Three of the advance leaflets were proclamations by General MacArthur and Philippine President Sergio Osmena. These political leaflets announced reestablishment of the Government of the Philippines under President Osmena and outlawed the Japanese puppet government. A special leaflet called upon the Japanese commander to accord proper treatment of American and Filipino prisoners of war captured in earlier fighting in the Philippines.

The PWB published an 11-page booklet entitled Psychological Warfare in the Sixth Army – The Luzon Campaign. Some of the more pertinent facts in the booklet are:

The strategic dropping of leaflets on the target was begun by PWB, General Headquarters in mid-November 1944. 8,500,000 leaflets for example, being dropped during the month of May, and a total of 29,500,000 were dropped throughout the period 9 January to 30 June.

Of all leaflets, 92% were dropped by supporting units of the Fifth Air Force (the 308th Bombardment Wing, the 310th Bombardment Wing and the Fifth Bomber Command), 8% were dropped by artillery liaison planes. Artillery shells were employed to distribute leaflets on only a few occasions because of the difficulties of transporting the ammunition.

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Paper Bullets – How they Beat the Jap

Speaking of artillery, it was very difficult to get the U.S. Army cannon-cockers to shoot leaflets at the enemy. They wanted to send high explosives over the front lines and cause extensive death and destruction. The PWB knew that the leaflets would expedite surrenders which would lead directly to military intelligence and a more efficient method to fight the war and a quicker victory. The PWB printed the restricted booklet Paper Bullets – How they Beat the Jap in an attempt to motivate the artillerymen to use the leaflet shells. The booklet even asks the rhetorical question:

What the hell kind of war is this firing leaflets at the enemy? Nobody ever got killed with a hunk of paper…Psychological Warfare, that’s what the Army calls it.

The 8-page booklet features one of the early “I surrender” leaflets aimed at the Japanese Army, explains the power of combat propaganda, and instructions on how to load and fire the leaflet shells. The back of the booklet depicts a Japanese soldier surrendering.

A Leaflet Explanation Card  

It was considered important to explain exactly why all those millions of leaflets were falling from the sky during the battle. One U.S. Army member of a Heavy Maintenance Repair Company, the 915th Ordnance Company, located in Manila (APO 358) during the war found this card stock leaflet falling from the sky. Note that they are using the old 5 x 8-inch that was popular in WWII and Korea. By Vietnam, the leaflet parameters had been studied in great depth and the 6 x 3-inch leaflet was the favorite because of its drift and spread over the ground.

Headquarters, Sixth Army, produced a record of their PSYOP campaign entitled Enemy on Luzon: an intelligence summary. It says in part:

When hostilities broke out between Japan and the United States, it was the common belief that no Japanese would ever fall into our hands, much less that he would surrender to our forces. Past events have shown, however, that such belief was erroneous. Japanese prisoners were captured, and more than half of those taken on Luzon voluntarily surrendered. A total of 7,297 prisoners of war were taken during the Luzon Operation; of these, approximately 5,100 were voluntary surrenders.

The strongest and most effective of the forces which reduced the Japanese morale was hunger brought on by the disruption of enemy supply lines. This factor was exploited, as well as other motivating forces, by Psychological Warfare. Among these were the cruelty of his officers, the hopelessness of the situation—accentuated by the devastating effectiveness of our bombing and shelling.

We Return

We don’t know much about this booklet explaining why the U.S. is going back to free the Philippine Islands but it is most likely that it was prepared by the U.S. Army Forces Far East and issued to the American invasion force troops. It bears American and Philippine symbols of the back. Inside are motivational comments and a map of the Philippine Islands. Some of the text is:


There are a number of reasons we are going into the Philippines. Some of them are reasons of honor, others are reasons of plain military science. The “Honor” reasons require little note here: you know them well –

The great mass of Filipino people has placed their trust in the United States. We owe them a solemn debt. Filipinos fought besides Americans to the bitter end on Bataan. We owe THEM something. Our friends in the Philippines are still fighting the enemy, we must help them. The flags of the United States and the Philippine Commonwealth flew side by side over the islands….

[Note]: Of course, this title is a take-off on General MacArthur’s famous "I Shall Return" statement, which the U.S. Army hated. They always wanted that changed to "We Shall Return." 

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Sixth Army Leaflet 102-J-6

This example of a tactical Sixth Army leaflet was prepared to be used against the Japanese defenders of Mt. Malepunyo. It depicts the Japanese in a box and clearly surrounded. The official description of the leaflet was “Special Surrender Leaflet, 6th Army.” The art is described as “Map of Mt. Malepunyo surrounded by American forces.” The text is:


This is the position of the Fuji Heidan on Southern Luzon. There is no safe place where you can retreat. We have prepared receiving stations for Japanese prisoners who are crossing our lines. You can stay in your isolated positions or you can come over to us and live.

If you wish to come under our protection, approach our lines during daylight hours carrying a white flag.

By December 1944 the unit known as the Fuji Heidan consisted of about 6,000 troops under the command of Colonel Masatoshi Fujishige. This unit was “hard Corps” and the Colonel is known to have told his troops, “Kill American troops cruelly. Do not kill them with one stroke. Shoot guerrillas. Kill all who oppose the Emperor, even women and children.” Since the leaflet mentions Mt. Malepunyo we can pinpoint its use to about the second week of April of 1945.

Leaflet 103-J-6 is all text so we will not depict it but it takes a much more reasoned approach to surrender. Some of the text is:

To the Officers of the Imperial Japanese Army:

You officers who have sworn to be fathers and mothers to your men – should you not discern right and wrong, in accordance with fundamental principles? Is this not the time to think of your men and the future of Japan? In other sectors of the Philippine battle area, certain Japanese officers…Have tried to force their men to remain in a hopeless situation and to die a dog’s death.

But the Japanese soldier in these areas, with greater wisdom and the belief in the future of a reborn Japan have decided to live for the future. In the night they have crept away from their units and hidden themselves, an in the day time they have approached the American lines to accept temporary hospitality…Honorable officers of the Japanese Army, assist your men to reach the decision to live; be their fathers in these times.

I have seen many different terms used for surrender but this is the first time I have seen it called “temporary hospitality.”

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Another leaflet targeting the Japanese forces on Luzon was 31-J-6. It is all-text and warns the Japanese soldiers of the American approach:


The Unites States Army will occupy this area in the near future. The Japanese High Command knows that Luzon is impossible to defend. But – to save the face of those high officers you are condemned to fight and die in the mountains. You will never see your homeland again. You have been warned. Cease resistance now.

The Commanding General, U.S. Forces.


This leaflet was the idea of a Japanese prisoner-of-war on Leyte. He was a graduate of law at Nippon University but just a private first class in the infantry. The theme of the leaflet was Empire Day, 11 February. Some of the long text is:


On this great occasion of your Empire Day, we sincerely celebrate with you. The day has deep significance. We must be thoughtful and recognize the essential nature and present state of the Greater East Asia War. We must also think realistically of the war…Defeat after defeat – tremendous losses suffered by your loyal comrades in battle because of the shortness of resources at home…The blame for these conditions must be laid on the stubborn Gunbatso and the ambitious men who strongly favor the continuation of the war.

There is a sinister cloud obscuring the will of the Emperor. Even though the people are making a mighty effort, the war is heading toward disaster. As is written in the history of the world, “Devouring ambition leads to military downfall.” Look into the past and you will see several examples of rises and falls. Who are the present Iruka, Dokyo, and Takauji [power grasping traitors to Japan], and where are they? We must think carefully and remove them; and we must promise to establish peace in this world as the Emperor wishes.


This United States Sixth Army leaflet is entitled "Aims" and depicts four members of a Japanese family on the front. It was prepared on 17 February 1945 and uses nostalgia as a theme. The text is:

The United States does not want to hurt you or your families.

The back depicts Mt. Fuji with a cherry tree at the right. The text is:

America has no designs on Japanese territory, intending only to avoid
aggression wherever possible in securing a lasting peace for the world.

This leaflet was dropped on South Luzon, Philippines on 16th July 1945.

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This 1944 Associated Press Wire Photo depicts American falling leaflets explaining the invasion of the Philippine Islands to waiting civilians on the Island of Leyte. The leaflets were written in English and local dialects and proved valuable in restoring order after the fury of the off-shore shelling.

Leaflet 3-J-6

This leaflet depicting a flight of B-24 Liberator bombers was prepared by the U.S. Sixth Army in the Philippine Islands. It targeted Japanese concentrations. It was designed to weaken the enemy’s will to resist and plant doubt about the strength of his own air force. The back of the leaflet depicts American fighters strafing and bombing Japanese troops. The text on the front is:

Only Americans Eagles are in the Sky. Why?

The text on the back says in part:

Soldiers of Japan in the Philippines

As you do not understand us, you may find it hard to believe our words. The truth of what we have to say, however, you may judge for yourselves.

Ask yourself how many Japanese planes you have seen in the sky in recent weeks. Why have they disappeared?

Are our planes ever challenged when they roar in the sky above you? What has become of the wild eagles who were trained to protect you?

Who has domination of the air above you? And have you not heard your Gumbatsu spokesmen say that whoever dominates the air will win the war?

What you know to be true here is true up and down the whole Pacific. Consider this well. Though you tighten your belts, can you honestly have any doubt about what lies ahead?

The "Gumbatsu" is mentioned in many American leaflets to the Japanese. The term represents what President Eisenhower would later call the Military-Industrial complex, a mix of high-ranking officers, government officials and leaders of industry.

Leaflet 9-J-6

This 16 September 1944 all-text Sixth Army leaflet was designed to look like a Japanese newspaper extra. It targeted Japanese troops in large concentrations that had not yet heard the latest news of their defeats. It told of a major defeat so the troops would hear of it before the Japanese leadership could put their spin in it and make it sound like another victory for their forces. The leaflet was produced within 12 hours of the battle’s end. This leaflet was called the "Morotai-Palau Landing Extra." The front of the leaflet shows the Japanese word "Gogai: which means "Extra." The leaflet is stained, perhaps from light or water.  The text on the back is:



The U.S. Carrier Task Force launched its first air attack on September 8. The assault was followed up by air strikes on September 11th and 12th.

The Japanese forces were on the defensive throughout. They made no effort to find and attack the American Naval force, which consisted of battleships, carriers and several hundred smaller naval craft. Japanese ships fled before the onslaught, but with little avail. Japanese planes took to the air over the Philippines, but only to defend their bases.

By September 12, Japanese power in the Philippines was demolished, and no further resistance was made to the final American air attacks.

On September 15, hundreds of American ships landed combat troops on Morotai and Palau. Morotai is 300 miles south of Davao. Palau is 550 miles east of Mindanao.

Berger goes on to point out that leaflets were dropped as part of a disinformation campaign to make the Japanese think that the invasion would hit the beaches of Mindanao. A week before the landings, 60,000 leaflets were dropped over Mindanao with the title, "Coming events cast their shadows," code number 3-J-6. General Yamashita (the Tiger of Malaya) later admitted that he expected Mindanao to be the target instead of Leyte. He adds:

Once the landings were under way, leaflets were given a general distribution throughout the Philippines. The islands of Luzon and the Visayas were targeted by Navy carrier-based aircraft, while Mindanao and Palawan were hit by Fifth Air Force planes based on Morotai.

Many of the leaflets also ridiculed Japanese military efforts and contained caricatures of the Japanese soldiers. Such an approach, Seventh Division leaflet designers complained to higher headquarters, had had an adverse effect on the Japanese and they recommended its discontinuance.

Between October 1944 and January 1945, when organized resistance on Leyte practically came to an end, an estimated 20,000,000 leaflets had been distributed throughout the islands. In January, Sixth Army moved onto the main island of Luzon, signaling the start of a new and greatly intensified leaflet operation on that island. In a six-month period an estimated 28,500,000 leaflets were disseminated over the island. During the final stages of the Luzon fighting, the emphasis in the American leaflets was on surrender, and special efforts were made in writing leaflets to take into account the local situations - about 4,500,000 of the leaflets aimed at the Japanese emphasized the “good treatment” theme; some 6,670,000 other leaflets were “Safe Conduct Passes.”

In the entire Philippine operation about 12,000 Japanese troops surrendered--more than in any other campaign in the Pacific. These prisoners were substantial refutation of the familiar argument that Japanese soldiers would not surrender.

The Leaflet Newsletter dated 1 June 1945 talks about the immediate production of propaganda when U.S. troops landed in the Philippines:

Most psychological warfare is fought with words. But words can have high explosive power. When MacArthur finally returned with men and weapons, his landing craft also brought portable printing presses, radio equipment and loud-speakers ashore. A unit of the Office of War Information came in with the first wave and moved into Tacloban with the infantry. The OWI boys hunted up the local printer, re-opened his print shop while Jap planes still roared overhead. Within 24 hours the first Free Philippines Leaflets were being dropped, with the banner headlines:

Americans Land in Philippines

Underground workers placed a copy on the-desk of Jose Laurel, puppet president.

In less than a day, the Voice of Freedom went on the air and MacArthur was broadcasting to the people of Mindanao, Leyte and Luzon:

“I Have Returned”

This was part of a growing, general offensive against the pillboxes of the Jap mind.

The OWI forces in the Philippines are mentioned in the December 1944 issue of the WWII classified magazine Outpost News; U.S. Office of War Information Outpost Service Bureau. Some of the comments are:

First newspaper to be published in the Philippines since our men landed there October 20 was the Leyte –Samar Free Philippines, which made its appearance Sunday, October 29. Its headline read “Japan’s 16th Division Shattered.”

Romulo began making daily broadcasts October 31, President Osema has agreed to go on for us whenever he has something official he wants to announce.

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The Leyte-Samar first issue of Free Philippines

Some of the articles tell the Philippine people that the invasion convoy was the biggest in the Pacific War - 600 ships; Victory pesos are now being used in the Philippines; 14,045 Jap soldiers were killed in the first 8 days of fighting; 21 Japanese warship and 298 aircraft have been destroyed; and the Americans have liberated 60 towns.

Acting Deputy Director George E. Taylor adds:

Naturally, our first target is the Japanese home front. And after that, the Japanese troops in the field...One of our greatest problems is getting enough workers who speak Japanese…At present we are working a PWB arrangement under MacArthur…

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Free Philippines Magazine - 1 August 1944

William B. Breuer mentions the Free Philippines Magazine in MacArthur’s Undercover War, Castle Books, Edison, N.J., 2005:

Hundreds of thousands of copies of a pictorial magazine entitled Free Philippines were printed each month and shipped into the islands in huge cargo-carrying submarines. Splashed across the covers in huge, bold letters were the words “I shall return.” Loaded with pertinent photographs, the magazines reviewed the progress of the war on a factual basis. Maps, with angry-looking arrows pointing directly toward the Philippines, helped explain the true war picture – and MacArthur’s goal – to the hard pressed natives and guerrillas.

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Free Philippines Newspaper, Volume 1 Issue 1

This newspaper dated “Sunday, March 25, 1945 – Manila
reports the landing of General MacArthur on the Philippine islands.

As soon as the Sixth Army made landfall on Leyte the first thing they printed was a copy of the propaganda newspaper Free Philippines.

Stanley Sandler mentions the newspaper:

The most widespread and popular PWB Philippine news sheet was Free Philippines. This daily journal had actually pre-dated the American landings, being delivered to waiting guerrillas by submarine…Free Philippines was published in both English and Tagalog, but English was strongly preferred as being more “official.” Citizens would wait in line patiently for up to an hour for a copy….In all the areas through which we passed the people were famished for news. Whenever we stopped to deliver a few copies of Free Philippines, people literally stormed the weapons carrier for their copy.

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The Japanese Newspaper "The Leyte Newslette"

The Japanese had their own propaganda newspaper in the Philippines printed in Manila and entitled The Leyte Newlette (sic) for some unknown reason. I have read a few copies and they are generally full of German and Japanese military victories. The headline of the 8 December 1944 issue is: “Philippines joins other East Asia nations to celebrate 3rd Anniversary of GEA War.” “GEA” of course stands for “Greater East Asia.”

Returning to the Sixth Army:

Between October 1944 and January 1945, when organized resistance on Leyte practically came to an end, an estimated 20,000,000 leaflets had been distributed throughout the islands. In January, Sixth Army moved onto the main island of Luzon... In a six month period an estimated 28,500,000 leaflets were disseminated over the island. During the final stages of the Luzon fighting, the emphasis in the American leaflets was on surrender. About 4,500,000 of the leaflets aimed at the Japanese emphasized the “good treatment” theme; some 6,670,000 other leaflets were safe conduct passes. 

Perhaps because of the leaflet campaign, 12,000 Japanese surrendered in the Philippines. That is more than in any other campaign in the Pacific. The Sixth Army captured 7,297 Japanese troops and 70% of them came over holding surrender leaflets. Sixth Army reported:

The psychological warfare campaign during the Luzon Campaign was the most effective one carried on by the Sixth Army and demonstrated the power of propaganda as a tactical weapon.

There was also a Basic Military Plan for Psychological Warfare Against Japan prepared by the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff. This plan included the following objectives or themes:

Undermine morale by convincing the Japanese that:

Military defeat is inevitable. Their land and air forces are inadequate; their tactics and equipment inferior; their fleet impotent.

Their country is blockaded; their Pan-Asian dream is dead.

Their country is divided. Disunity exists among the army, navy and air forces; between the civil and military population; and between officers and enlisted men.

Continuation of the war will destroy Japan.

Charge the military clique with the responsibility of the war:

Cite their incompetence in foreign affairs and on the home and fighting fronts.

Prove that they have lied and are still lying about the war.

Explain the exploitation of racial prejudice.

Show the misrepresentation of Western people.

Charge them with the responsibility for national disaster.

Drive a wedge between the Emperor and the people on one hand, and the military clique on the other.

Encourage the people to:

Seek self-preservation.

Rally to save what is left of their country.

Destroy the military clique and form a peace government.

Throw themselves on the mercy of the United States.

Sue for peace on our terms.

As you will see as we study the leaflets by theme. Almost every one of the above concepts is found in one or more leaflets.

Staff Sergeant Richard A. Cross

SSG Richard Cross was the Editor-in-Chief of the Daily collation summary of the Psychological Warfare Branch at General Headquarters. As we stated above, the Collation Section studied intelligence reports from all over the Asia and the Pacific and identified Japanese vulnerabilities and ways to exploit them. He was awarded a Bronze Star for his exceptional performance from 7 May to 2 September 1945. His citation states that, “Through his effort, a system for analyzing enemy reactions to psychological warfare was instituted which proved of inestimable value in operational planning.”

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Suggestion for a Propaganda Leaflet

Richard Cross had many talents. We can see from the above suggestion that besides doing important intelligence work he also wanted to take part in the design and wording of leaflets. Here, he forwards the following comments to his superiors on 23 July 1945:

One of America’s biggest assets in this war is her superior productive capacity in relation to Japans’…This power has been consistently played up in our propaganda I know, but how specific have the statements been? I am again suggesting a leaflet which avoids generalization. The story of our production is so powerful that if told clearly it will do much to show the Japanese the futility of further resistance.

I suggest a map contrasting the land mass of the two nations. I would then add text comparing the production of planes, ships or tanks. We could also talk about the comparative production of steel, aluminum, etc.

On another occasion he suggested a threatening leaflet to the Japanese people:

The Japanese people expect a sharp increase in the air and naval bombardment in the coming months. Just how much of an increase can be clearly shown in a simple chart broken down into three 6-month periods.

    1. From the fall of Saipan, July 1944 to January 1945.

    2. From January 1945 to July 1945.

    3. Estimated from July 1945 to January 1946.

I believe that this chart, with a heading such as “What can the Japanese people expect in the coming months?” can be used without additional copy. However, it might be advisable to conclude, “In the next six months Japan will feel heavier bomb loads than ever experienced by Germany.”  

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Official PWB Product Scrapbook

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Sample pages from the Official PWB Product Scrapbook

During his time with General Headquarters in the Philippines Richard Cross kept several scrapbooks of the material that PWB produced. At the end of the war, he was given permission to bring them home. The official letter authorizing the scrapbooks is dated 1 November 1945. I tell you all this because the majority of leaflets that we depict in this article came directly from the scrapbook put together by SSG Cross.This personal scrapbook of Richard A. Cross bearing 86 PWB leaflets, 29 photographs and 70 typed pages was sold on eBay in June 2012 for $717. That was a bargain price considering the historical value. A second Cross scrapbook containing 128 U.S. propaganda leaflets, 26 Japanese leaflets and 29 official Signal Corps photographs sold in August 2012 for $4050. Perhaps seeing the prices these scrapbooks were sold for, the scrapbook of Major William Taylor was offered in November 2012 for $5,000. However, this book had already been heavily picked and contained just 40 different leaflets, many in duplicate to show the backs. As a result, the book received no bids. It was auctioned again in July 2013 estimated at $400. It sold for $484.

Decades after I wrote the above, quite by accident I found a similar collection by Colonel Karl F. Baldwin that he had presented to the Pacific University of Oregon from a PWB book he had received. It contained an 8 February 1945 letter written by Baldwin, a U.S. Military attaché in Melbourne, Australia, to Lieutenant Colonel J. Woodall Greene, Executive Officer, PWB. In it, Baldwin thanks Greene for sending him one of the PWB scrapbooks. The letter said in part:

I wish to thank you sincerely for the book you sent me setting up the proclamations and leaflets prepared by the Psychological Warfare Branch of the General Headquarters, Southwest Pacific Area…Please continue to send these to me and accept my sincere gratitude for the book which I shall treasure as one of the best records of the fine work of General MacArthur and your section in particular.

When I was photographing the leaflets from the Cross books, there were several that were covered by the translations or glued down to show the text instead of the image side. I did not add those to this article. Since the Baldwin file depicts a few leaflets that I could not photograph without damaging the books, I will add several leaflets from the Pacific University of Oregon Baldwin file to this article. My sincere thanks to the University for helping me to complete this history of the PWB.

Staff Sergeant Bill Wooley

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Bill Wooley was a member of the Psychological Warfare Branch who started as a U.S. Army Private First Class with the invasion of the Philippines and ended up as a Staff Sergeant by the end of the war. He had been recruited by the PWB about March, 1944, while in the Replacement Depot in Milne Bay, New Guinea. He was sent to Australia where he spent the next three months learning the art and science of psychological operations. He was then assigned to the Army Air Force 308th Bomber Wing in Hollandia, New Guinea, a unit flying the North American Billy Mitchell B-25 twin-engine medium bomber. It is worth noting that other members of his unit were assigned to the Fifth Air Force, the 7th Bomber Group, the 494th Bomb Group, the 319th Bomb Group, the 11th Bomb Group and the 41st Bomb Group. Apparently every bomber organization got a PWB representative.

When the Americans hit the beaches of the Philippine Islands on 20 October 1944, Bill was on an LST and arrived at Leyte the day after the initial landings. He saw the entire battle of the Leyte Gulf and regularly dropped propaganda leaflets using C-47 Skytrain military cargo plane, B-25s and various fighter aircraft. He points out that most fighter pilots did not want to do leaflet missions (they had to fly low and slow and were targets for enemy anti-aircraft), but they always performed their mission. Apparently the fighters were P-47 Thunderbolts because a letter from 5th Air Force asks:

Your activity with P-47s in carrying out PWB missions is most interesting. Would you give me a description of the technique used in getting the leaflets out of the planes without injury to the pilot or canopy? I’d like to pass this information on to the 310th Wing.

Leaflet bombs are still in the theoretical stage. If you find the opportunity to use the caps and fuse, give it a try, especially utilizing a 12,000 to 15,000 foot altitude. If the caps detonate anywhere below 3,000 feet, the result should prove satisfactory. Pin-pointing must be narrowed to an area less than a mile square.

P-47s using dive-bombing tactics or coming in at tree-top level seems to be our only answer at present.

Leaflets were also sent to Tinian Island for dissemination by bombers, and Navy carrier planes dropped them on Manila and other targets. Bill sometimes took part in the night drop of tactical leaflets on Manila in support of the U.S. Army Infantry and Cavalry units. Although he had no part in the printing of leaflets he did have some input into their content. He also took part in some loudspeaker operations, including one occasion in southern Luzon where he rigged an amplifier on the wings of a small two-man Stinson L-5 Sentinel observation spotter aircraft and flew over a tough Japanese unit dug into a deep canyon and broadcast surrender appeals from American Nisei troops.

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One of the Psychological Warfare Branch tents in the Philippines.
Notice that many of the leaflets hanging on the wall are also depicted in this article.

Bill received a commendation from his commander on 4 December 1944 that stated in part:

Captain Anderson has shown me your leaflet dropping report for 30 November. This is one of the finest pieces of work so far accomplished in our PWB activities and I want to take this opportunity to congratulate you upon your endeavors.

Bill also had a PWB scrapbook and told me that he believed that every member of the unit was awarded such a souvenir scrapbook upon discharge. Many of the leaflets in this article are from Bill’s scrapbook. Bill is probably correct because a Fifth Air Force Letter dated 28 October 1945 says:

The following item of American military equipment is hereby declared to be the personal property of SSG Bill Wooley. This equipment is surplus to the various agencies of the War department and its release conforms to the rules and regulations established by superior headquarters. 

One PWB Leaflet Book

Okinawa – the Testing Ground

Leaflet 136-J-1

This leaflet was titled “Is Japan Next?” It depicts a map of the Pacific with the line of American advance leading to Okinawa. It asks on the front:

The text on back is:

The American offensive rolls on relentlessly. As a result of the inferior strategy of the militarists, the Japanese forces were defeated everywhere. Meanwhile, however, the militarists continued to announce, "A great victory."

Today the American troops in the Pacific are being augmented by great forces from Europe. The Japanese homeland is being relentlessly bombed. The war is progressing rapidly toward Japan itself.

"Unconditional Surrender" means the end of the war and the destruction of the militarists. It does not mean the enslavement or the extermination of the people.

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Leaflet 138-J-1
Another PWB Leaflet defaced by the addition of a stamp on the
attack transport McIntyre

The first large-scale use of PSYOP in the Pacific was the Okinawa campaign. More than six million leaflets were dropped on Japanese troops. The result was the surrender of 11,409 Japanese prisoners of war. Fifth Fleet carrier planes alone dropped some five million leaflets on the island. The psychological warfare teams' immediate objective was to depress Japanese morale so that the enemy soldiers would surrender rather than resist. The long-range goal was more ambitious: to promote the idea that Okinawans were ethnically and culturally different from the home island Japanese. The leaflets told the Japanese soldier why and how they should surrender and the Okinawan citizens not to be afraid, for they were not regarded as the enemy. The PSYOP campaign was considered a great success and a similar campaign was planned for the Philippines.

It is interesting to note that there were a great number of trained personnel in the PSYOP field that had studied the Japanese in depth and regularly told their superiors that a proper psychological warfare campaign against the Japanese would be successful and lead to their surrender. They saw the Japanese morale cracking and read the dairies of dead soldiers and interviewed prisoners who were generally more than happy to talk. Politicians in Washington and field commanders did not believe them. In regard to Okinawa, according to John W. Dower in War without Mercy – Race and Power in the Pacific War, Pantheon Books, NYC, 1986:

…Until the final stage in the invasion of Okinawa, psychological warfare was seldom employed against the Japanese, who were regarded popularly as too inhuman to be propagandized.

To be honest, the propaganda campaign against Okinawa was mostly carried out by the Navy-OWI unit on Saipan. They dropped a series of leaflets coded 131, 416, 535, 536, 1027, 1050, 1055 and 2079. However, the PWB did prepare leaflets that used Okinawa as a theme.

The above leaflet depicts American soldiers in three photographs: a U.S. soldier and Okinawan child, a U.S. soldier and friendly Okinawan boys, and Okinawans returning to their homes.Okin

On Okinawa, once a grim battlefield, the storm has passed and peace is returning.

Civilians who had fled and hidden themselves, believing in the propaganda of the militarists, have returned to their towns and villages.

Under the friendly protection of Americans, reconstruction is going on. The present conditions in Okinawa clearly refute the propaganda of the militarists.

The statement of U.S. President Truman that unconditional surrender does not mean enslavement or extermination is fully borne out by the situation on Okinawa.

It is very interesting to note that the Japanese also employed some propaganda against U.S. troops on Okinawa. They never had air superiority, so I assume that their leaflets were left where they believed American troops might congregate. The leaflets were apparently prepared by a band of German propagandists that worked out of Shanghai even after the German surrender. One of the leaflets had the image of a dead American soldier draped over a machine gun and text in part:

Today at the front, he died. A young American soldier, a human being, like you or I.

Tomorrow, more will be killed – there will be no end to human suffering in months and years to come…

Formosa – Techniques are honed

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Leaflet 1-FO-1

It is hard to believe now, but there was a time when there was a bitter debate about whether the United States should invade Luzon on the Philippines or the Island of Formosa. Of course, MacArthur wanted The Philippines and he eventually had his way. However, a great number of leaflets were prepared and dropped over Formosa in preparation for a possible future attack by both the Army and the Navy. The PWB leaflets bear the letters “FO” for “Formosa,” examples being 1-FO-1 and 2-FO-1.

This leaflet depicts a Chinese War God on the front and a Chinese religious figure on the back. Formosans would recognize both these figures. The text is in Chinese and Japanese. The label is entitled “Future of Formosa,” and attempts to give hope to the people awaiting their liberation. Some of the text is:

Since the Battle of the Solomons, one defeat has followed another. Now even Manila, the heart of the “Greater East Asia” has been lost. The Japanese homeland and military installations on Formosa have been subject to almost uninterrupted bombing…

…What of Formosa?

…The so-called Cairo Declaration states that Japan’s aggression and imperialism must go. Korea shall have independence and Formosa shall be returned to China so that each race shall be able to build its own freedom and happiness…

I would like to stop here for a moment and mention that leaflets to Formosa were mentioned in a document titled - "The Political and Military Background of and Negotiations for the Surrender and Occupation of Japan." The document says in part:

The first propaganda leaflets had been dropped on Formosa and Okinawa by carrier aircraft of the Third Fleet as far back as October 1944, opening the strategic leaflet campaign in which approximately one hundred million leaflets and newspapers were dropped on Japan before the war ended. The first drops on the home islands had been made on 16 February 1945, when Fifth Fleet aircraft hit the Tokyo area. The great majority of strategic leaflets were distributed by B-29s of the XXI Bomber Command, which made their first propaganda drops on Osaka on 4 March 1945. The initial drops on Kyushu were made by Fifth Fleet planes on 18 March 1945.

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Leaflet 2-FO-1

This leaflet was also prepared to inform the Formosans of the Allied plans for their future. It depicts a dove of peace holding the propaganda message in its beak. One side is in Chinese, the other side in Japanese. Some of the text is:

On December 1, 1943, the conference of President Roosevelt, Prime Minister Churchill, and Generalissimo Chiang Kai Shek, held in Cairo, Egypt, made public the so-called “Cairo Declaration.” It read, in part, as follows:

…It is their purpose that Japan shall be stripped of all the islands in the Pacific she has seized or occupied since the First World War in 1914, and that all the territories Japan has stolen from China, such as Manchuria, Formosa and the Pescadores, shall be returned to the Republic of China…

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Leaflet 1-H-6

The final PWB leaflet known to have been dropped on Formosa and dated 18 December 1944 depicts a Formosan under Japanese rule with American B-29 bombers overhead and the word:


The back is all text:

People of Formosa

The battle of liberation draws nearer Formosa. The Americans have sworn to free you from Japanese oppression and to avenge Japan’s rape of China. For years you Formosans have lived under bondage and oppression. In return, the Japanese demanded heavy taxes and coolie labor.

Your hour of freedom is coming. Today Americans are fulfilling their pledge to the Filipinos. Japanese forces have already been decisively defeated on the island of Leyte in the Philippines.

Prepare to throw off the yoke of oppression. Plan now to strike the Japanese when the American forces land. When the time comes, help destroy the cruel enemy and drive him from your homeland.

As I read this leaflet two thoughts arise. The Navy wanted to liberate Formosa first and if MacArthur had not been so stubborn about attacking the Philippines the Formosans would already be free. The second thought is that the Communist Chinese are going to chase the Nationalists off the mainland and soon those Formosans would be occupied by another military force.

There must have been some concern about this leaflet because the information sheet says:


The Philippines

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Before we start to depict what was actually prepared for the Philippines, we should mention what the original recommendations were as found in the June 1943 report entitled General Headquarters, Southwest Pacific Area, Military Intelligence Area, General staff, G2 Information Bulletin – Report on Conditions in the Philippine Islands. The report says in part:

The enemy has used every possible angle to line the Philippine people up for “Asia for the Asiatics,” “Philippines for the Filipinos,” and Greater Co-Prosperity Sphere.”

[U.S] Printed propaganda directed to the Philippine people would be of definite assistance throughout the islands…Such propaganda should be carefully prepared and lithographed in good quality work so that its having been prepared in America will not be doubted…The subjects most likely to help at the present time would include short messages to the Filipino people indicating a positive plan to return to the islands to evict the enemy; messages from General MacArthur to booster the morale of the Filipino people; Messages from President Quezon and President Roosevelt…Messages pointing out the actions of the enemy such as commercial monopolies by the Japanese, taking down the Filipino flag, the implanting of Japanism, etc.

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A President Quezon 1943 Pamphlet

This small 20-page Pamphlet was prepared by the U.S. and dropped over the Philippines in 1943. It quoted a speech made by President Quezon on the radio and was to be passed on to any loyal Filipino. The booklet concludes:

Do not despair for your liberation is certain. It may take time, but it will come. Meanwhile, do not let the Japanese fool you. Use your wits and beat him at his own game. Above all, you must have faith in America, which has kept faith with every other nation, and especially with us. Our bond of friendship, tempered in the heat of battle, will last beyond the war and into the peace of freedom, general well-being and safety that will follow it.

God bless and keep you all.


In other documents the U.S. recommended various ways to use propaganda in the Philippines to keep up their fighting spirit:

Pamphlets containing messages to the people, containing news of Allied victories, with pictures…They should contain messages of achievements in other theaters to indicate to the Filipino people the strength of the Allied forces and assurance of ultimate victory.

There should be included cigarettes, late American magazines, and propaganda leaflets.

A second early pre-invasion leaflet featuring President Quezon.

The front of the leaflet features President Quezon and tells how the American people have accepted him and are fighting for the freedom of the Philippines. The back of the leaflet depicts President Quezon with President Roosevelt at a meeting of the United Nations Pacific War Council. He speaks more about how well he has been treated and the great respect of the American people for the way the Philippines has fought on against the occupying Japanese.

General MacArthur's PSYOP staff prepared a great number of leaflets for the Philippine campaign. There were close to 200 different leaflets produced by MacArthur’s PWB in Brisbane in the "J1" series. Examples are 6J1 (Abandoned), 25J1 (I cease resistance), and 159J1 (Surrender order, 38th Division, Southern Luzon, signed by Colonel Kobayashi).

The US Sixth Army used leaflets coded “J6.” Examples are 1J6 (Germany surrenders), 33J6 (Manila Falls), and 103J6 (Japanese officers, please read this). Sixth Army PWB was established in September 1944 at Hollandia. It was made up of the X Corps, XIV Corps and the First Cavalry Division. I am aware of no complete count of all the leaflets prepared by the U.S. Sixth Army, but I have records of 37 different types in my own WWII Pacific files.

The US Eighth Army used leaflets with the code "J8." Examples are 2J8 (Straggler surrender) and 31J8 (Japanese Army and Navy Officers).

Other leaflets in this same series bear the codes J2, J3, J10, J11, J14, J21, J24, J38, J40 and J41. The meaning of many of these codes is unknown and most of them exist as only one or two specimens so they were probably tactical leaflets used for a specific purpose on a special occasion. For instance, we do not know who prepared the J3 leaflets (1-J-3 “Officers and NCOs of the Fuji Heidan” and 4-J-3 “The Way to Safety”), The J10 leaflets are from X Corps (1-J-10 “To the Men of the 9th, 23rd and 33rd Regiments). The J11 leaflets are for the U.S. Army XI Corps. Leaflet 3-J-11 is “General Patrick’s Surrender Leaflet” written by the Commanding General of the Sixth Division, but that division was part of XI Corps. The J21 leaflets were for the 11th Airborne. The J24 leaflets are from the 24th Division reinforcing the X Corps of the U.S. Eighth Army. The J38 leaflets are believed to be special requests of the XIV Corps. The single J40 leaflet I have seen is listed as 2-J-40 “Negros Surrender.” When you look at the codes you see that PWB has broken them down somewhat by date. For instance, leaflets coded 2-J-1 to 101-J-1 were printed in Brisbane, Australia, from August 1944 to March 1945. Leaflets coded 103-J-1 to 152-J-1 were printed in Manila, the Philippines, from April to August 1945. All of the other leaflets with codes in the J-6, J-10, and up to J-41 are labeled as leaflets printed in PWB field offices.

The cause of some of this confusion was that every Army and every Corps (Normally three Corps to an Army) had its own PWB unit. The Air Force bomber wings also had PWB teams attached. Each of these teams was at the beck and call of the unit it supported. So, there were 200 PWB members in units of various sizes working for commands of various sizes at different locations. Some confusion was surely inevitable. An Army division (normally three Divisions to a Corps) might request a leaflet run, discover it could not disseminate them and forward a request for an aircraft to Corps. Corps might find itself unable to comply and forward the request to Army. The people at SWPA headquarters might have no input into the division-designed leaflet and this was acceptable as long as the themes complied with the Basic Military Plan for Psychological Warfare in the Southwest Pacific Area.

To make it even more confusing, the Office of War Information also worked with MacArthur as stated in the Office of War Information Leaflet News Letter dated 1 September 1945. The leaflet codes were all PWB, but apparently the OWI quietly helped in the background:

Long before American forces landed in the Philippines, leaflets played a vital role. Prior to the first Philippine landings, the OWI leaflet unit in Brisbane produced some 56 million leaflets. In Leyte, from November through February, 4 million more were printed, many of them being of the surrender type and beginning in March, production in Manila mounted steadily, nearly two million being put out that month, in spite of the difficulty of obtaining supplies and equipment in the ravaged city. Distribution figures for the period 20 October 1944 to 12 May 1945 totaled 53,360,150 leaflets.

Leaflets for the Filipinos included texts of official proclamations, news leaflets, messages to guerrillas, and instructions for helping in the liberation. Later, there were warnings of American landings, instructing Filipinos how to avoid death or injury by our bombings and shelling of beaches and military installations, and finally, the red, white and blue leaflet proclaiming that "MacArthur has returned."

For the Japanese leaflets of two general types were produced: news leaflets designed to give troops the facts about the progress of the war, and leaflets devoted to a single theme appeal, designed directly to reduce the morale of the enemy troops and induce their surrender. The "surrender pass" gave instructions on how to surrender and bore in English on one side instructions to American troops on how to accept the surrender and turn the prisoner over for questioning,

Themes included the threat of terrific pounding by artillery, promises of good treatment for prisoners, news of the new American landings, explanation of the superiority of U.S. weapons, explanations of the fact that U.S, forces had cut off supply lines, the truth about Japanese leaders, the lack of support for ground troops from the Japanese navy and air forces, and surrender passes.

One starts to see the complexity of this operation. Headquarters has a general list and surplus of leaflets which was regularly sent down to Army and Corps for their general use; and at the lower levels leaflets are being produced as needed for tactical operations. There were a lot of leaflets moving back and forth between the various combat units in the Philippines. PWB teams and combat officers at the lower levels could refuse to use a leaflet if they felt it was at cross-purposes with their mission.

William E. Daugherty and Morris Janowitz discuss the SWPA PSYOP arrangement in A Psychological Warfare Casebook, Operations Research Office, Johns Hopkins Press, Baltimore, MD, 1958.

At the (SWPA) headquarters a quasi-special staff section (actually called a Branch) was established under the direct supervision of the Military Secretary to the Commanding General (Fellers). In this unique setup the Chief of the Psychological Warfare Branch enjoyed direct access to the commanding general of the theatre.

In the lower echelons of this command – in the Sixth U.S. and the Eighth U.S. Armies – special teams composed mostly of military personnel were dispatched on limited liaison-type assignments from the theatre psychological warfare staff agency. Where coordination or supervision of the psychological warfare teams were attempted by the lower echelons, it was usually through the Intelligence Section (G2) rather than through the Operations Section (G3) of the command involved.

The Propaganda Leaflets

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PWB Members Producing Propaganda Leaflets and Posters

The photograph above depicts members of the U.S. Army Psychological Warfare Branch preparing propaganda leaflets and posters. Some soldiers are seen working on text; others appear to be drawing images. On the bulletin board in the background I can identify a standard "I Surrender" safe conduct pass and leaflets 2-J-1, 3-J-1, 3-J-6, 4-F-1 and 13-J-6.

The report Combat Notes Sixth Army, Volume 10, final edition, discusses the leaflet program in the Philippines.

In the psychological war against Japan, the objective was not only to make enemy soldiers surrender, but also to lower morale among soldiers and civilians alike, and to prepare the way for peaceful Oriental-Occidental cooperation after the conclusion of hostilities. To implement the main objectives of this type of war, the Psychological Warfare Branch was established - In this organization were pooled military, civilian, and Japanese personnel with a wide variety of talents, research men, artists, radio announcers, news writers, editors, technicians, planners, and linguists. These men possessed an intimate knowledge of Japanese psychology, vulnerabilities, customs, traditions, religion, education, training, dreams of destiny, current attitudes, and behavior patterns. It was their job to prepare the materials for this paper war to present the facts clearly and logically and to evaluate the results.

Despite all the talent available there was no basis on which to determine the Japanese reaction to our propaganda efforts, and early publicity was on a trial and error basis. To carry out the field work and tabulate results, psychological warfare units were established in the headquarters of the various combat commands. The first major problem of these new field units was to gain the support and cooperation of the Allied troops, for it was as important to convince our own soldiers of the value of this type of warfare as it was to convince the Japanese. In the early stages of the war in the Pacific, American soldiers learned by bitter experience the cruelty and trickery of the enemy and it was necessary to indoctrinate all troops of the necessity for and value of taking prisoners.

The first actual use of propaganda by Sixth Army occurred during the campaign on Leyte, where thousands of leaflets were dropped. The propaganda had a multifold purpose, to build up the spirit of resistance among the Filipinos, to assure the Filipinos of American good will, and to demoralize the enemy and pave the way to victory.

Between D-day, (20 October) and 1 December 1944, American planes dropped only 111,000 leaflets with a return of 94 Japanese prisoners. In February, the number of leaflets dropped was increased to 4,000,000 and 906 war-weary Japanese threw down their arms. By this time, the advocates of psychological warfare were shouting for more leaflets. The number was stepped up in May to 8,600,000, and the number of Japanese captured mounted to 1,777.

With the progress of the propaganda campaign a vast amount of information was learned from prisoners. From careful interrogation we discovered certain reactions of the various groups of Japanese to our propaganda and were able to make corresponding adjustments. Every effort was made to use idiomatic language in propaganda leaflets. The artwork was designed to conform to the Japanese standards. Good paper replaced the cheaper varieties. The number of propaganda themes was reduced to a minimum for the psychological warfare section found that a few important thanes were far more useful than a great variety.

Since there are probably well over 200 leaflets in the SWPA “J1” series it is not practical to depict them all. Therefore my plan is to list some of the various propaganda themes and show some leaflets that use that theme in each category. The reader should understand that if I depict one or two leaflets that use the theme “Continuation of the war will destroy Japan,” I might have a dozen more of the same type of leaflets. In general I will select the most pictorial and colorful leaflets to show the reader.

Theme: Military defeat is inevitable.

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Leaflet 2-J-1 and 5-J-6

One of the earliest Army leaflets dropped on Japanese troops is 2-J-1 entitled “Japanese soldier sitting in a rowboat.” 700,000 of these leaflets were printed in Brisbane, Australia. The U.S. did not want to antagonize the Japanese, so they used a technique they call “soft-soaping” to point out their predicament without appearing to gloat. The leaflet depicts an unhappy Japanese soldier alone in a rowboat near a barren island. The 6th Army liked the leaflet so much that they reprinted it and used it in their section of the Philippines. The text on the front is:

Left Behind With Only Small Boats, an Army Chokes With Grief!

The back is all text:

Soldiers and Officers of Japan.

We wish neither to insult nor make fun of you. Because at Bataan and Corregidor we faced the same miserable conditions you are now facing, we cannot but sympathize with you.

We then were helpless to do anything else at Bataan and Corregidor. Was it not because the Japanese Navy controlled the waters around the Philippines?

But since then the war situation has changed completely. Who now has naval superiority in the waters around your islands?

Where are the ships that brought you and your supplies here? Where is the Navy which escorted your transports?

As many of you know well, our submarines, planes and warships have inflicted heavy losses on Japanese shipping. Are there any Japanese ships still afloat? Yes, but have you seen any of them lately? Your Navy has probably withdrawn them to safer waters.

When ships can no longer reach an island garrison, do you not realize for the first time that the island has been abandoned?

Curiously, this same leaflet, without a code number was dropped on the Japanese at Bougainville. 25,000 leaflets were dropped, and a notation says, "Drop before November 17." American forces of the XIV Corps first landed there and held the perimeter around the beachhead at Torokina, from November 1943 through November 1944. Australian troops then went on the offensive, mopping up pockets of starving, isolated Japanese from November 1944 until August 1945, when the last Japanese soldiers on the island surrendered.

Second Leaflet 2-J-1

Perhaps even more curiously, a second leaflet coded 2-J-1 was printed with no image, just text. Some of the message is:


Here is the truth about your comrades in Leyte and your future in Samar. Japanese troops in Leyte have met with total disaster. Those who have survived the terrible pounding of American artillery lie huddled in the Ormoc Corridor. Cut off from all help they face two alternatives: death from shellfire and starvation, or peace with honor….

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Leaflet 3-J-1

Army Psychological Warfare Branch leaflet 3-J-1 seems to be the first in a series of leaflets that depicts Japanese soldiers left behind as General MacArthur advanced using his "Island-Hopping" campaign. 700,000 of these leaflets were printed in Brisbane, Australia. Other similar leaflets depicted a lone Japanese soldier standing on an island (6-J-1) or a lone Japanese soldier watching a battle take place on a nearby island (22-J-1). These leaflets all had the basic same message. You are cut off and there will be no resupply. There will be no food, no water, no ammunition and no reinforcements. The text on the front of the leaflet is:

Agony of Days Ahead

The text on the back of the leaflet is:

We wish to pay respects for your unparalleled bravery, and, at the same time, to voice sympathy for the many hardships you have faced through no fault of your own.

Now that our offensive has reached your island, we can predict your future clearly. We can do this because with our own eyes we have seen the end of the Japanese forces abandoned in the Solomons, New Guinea, Attu, Guam, Saipan, and Palau. We can do this because with our own eyes we have seen the end of Japanese forces abandoned in the Solomons, New Guinea, Attu, Guam, Saipan, and Palau. The Japanese forces will try to counter-attack and each time they will suffer great losses. Probably they will be sent into unfriendly hills where supplies are scant. Many of them will be injured by our bombing. Because of lack of treatment, they will die slowly. Others will suffer from lack of food. They will be no way to withdraw. Some of you will be driven to suicide. The rest will face hunger and exhaustion and be forced to live like animals.

Before you reach this miserable state, which is more than men ought to endure so far from home, we want you to keep something in mind. Those who choose to come to an honorable understanding with us will find that we treat them as human beings, not as enemies. We shall hold it a duty to see that they have clothing food, shelter and medical care.

This leaflet does not ask the Japanese soldier to surrender. To save face, it simply asks that he reach an "honorable understanding" with the Americans. We usually don’t know much about how these leaflets were disseminated. In this case, we know from a sailor who kept one as a souvenir:

This leaflet was dropped by a flight of American Grumman Avenger torpedo bombers from the escort carrier U.S.S. Suwannee, on Japanese military positions in the Visayas, Philippines, on 22 October 1944 during the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Three days later, on 25 October 1944, the U.S.S. Suwannee was the first capital warship to be hit by a Kamikaze plane, on the morning of the first day that Japan unveiled the new tactic of suicide attacks! A Mitsubishi Zero, with a bomb attached, dove from 8000 feet into the deck of the carrier and exploded into two great fireballs! The attacks killed 107 sailors, wounded 160 more, and forced the carrier to disengage from the battle for repairs.

Soldiers from 361st Field Artillery Battalion load propaganda leaflet 3-J-1 to be fired over Japanese lines,
Leyte, December 1944.
(Photo by US Army Tech3 Harold Newman)

The same image was used on PWB Sixth Army leaflet 6-J-6, “Doomed.” However, there was a different text.

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Leaflet 4-J-1

The theme of “Five minutes to twelve” is interesting because this was used by both the Allies and the Germans in the European Theatre. Both asked, “Why die now in the last few minutes of the war?” Here, the PWB asks the Japanese the same question. 500,000 of these leaflets were printed in Brisbane, Australia. The reader sees all the islands that have fallen to the Allies and is told that the next to fall will be Japan. According to the leaflet specifications sheet, instead of numbers, islands where the Japanese have been defeated appear on the clock face. Starting at 1 o'clock: Guadalcanal, Bougainville, Tarawa (Kiribati), Marshall Islands, Admiralty Islands, New Guinea, Saipan, Guam, and Palau. The minute hand rests on the Philippines, indicating the current battle underway there. The hour hand rests on Japan (at the 12 o'clock position) indicating it is the next and final target. Curiously, a Japanese researcher stated that the minute hand was on Okinawa.50,000 of these leaflets were dropped on 21 November 1944. The American name for this leaflet was simply “Clock” and the text on the front is:

The Hour is Drawing Near!

The back is all text and says in part:

Japanese away from home

Here are some typical statements from Tokyo, where the high authorities know in detail the war situation:

With the present conditions, it is by no means impossible to meet with a final defeat. Radio Tokyo, 31 July 1944.

I can say that the general war situation cannot be regarded as satisfactory. The nearer the enemy approaches the inner defense ring of Japan, the more difficult the position will be for us.
Navy Minister Tonai, 7 September 1944.

We must consider the possibility of the Allies landing on our home soil.
Premier Kioso, 7 September 1944.

What do these Tokyo statements mean? They mean that despite the future bravery of your comrades in the pacific Islands, the great Allied offensive continues to advance on schedule toward the Japanese homeland.

The time has come when the inordinately ambitious leaders can no longer conceal their miscalculations. Although they know there is no chance of victory, they continue making you die like dogs to save their own faces.

Do you think this is just or right?

This general image was so popular that it was used again on leaflet 118-J-1. The text on this leaflet discusses the meaning of “unconditional surrender” and points out that the Japanese military warlords are spreading propaganda when they claim that the term means “enslavement of the Japanese people and their extermination.”

Earlier in the war, this leaflet without any code was dropped on Bougainville by the American XIV Corps. The message quoted the Geneva Convention rules to the Japanese. Some of the message was:

Officers and Men of the Japanese Forces

You have seen on our leaflets the words "The Allies will treat you well in accordance with International Law." Superfluous as it may be, we which to explain here what International Law stands for in this instance.

In this case, International Law is determined by the Geneva Convention. The official name is "The International Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners-of-War." And it was signed by twenty-nine nations at Geneva on July 27, 1929. The following are extracts:

Eight Articles of the Geneva Convention follow.

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German leaflet 655 SK 1a

As mentioned above, both the Allies and the Axis prepared anti-morale leaflets that made use of the propaganda theme “Five Minutes to Twelve. An example is the German leaflet prepared by “Scorpion West,” the organization tasked with the production of German propaganda against Allied troops in Western Europe. This leaflet appears in several different sizes and was dropped starting about March 1945.

The front depicts an American soldier stopping another from stepping into a grave, a clock reading five minutes to twelve, and the text:



The back is all text and says in part:

Five Minutes to Twelve
Luftwaffe down and out. German war industry smashed. Russians threatening Berlin, The end is in sight.
Five Minutes to Twelve
And so nobody wants to be killed in these last five minutes. That’s Common sense.
Watch your step!

Theme: Without raw materials Japan is lost.

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Leaflet 8-J-1

This leaflet tells the Japanese about the American landing on the Philippine Islands. The front depicts several Japanese magazines and quotes from the articles inside that discuss the importance of supplies from the southern regions. The leaflet was called "War of Supply". 750,000 of these were printed in Brisbane, Australia. Some of the text on the back is:


As the Pictorial Weekly, edited by the Cabinet Information Bureau says: “The war of supply is the key to victory.” As you know, a supply of oil, tin, rubber, and other essential war materials is absolutely necessary to carrying on modern warfare. What does the recent advance of Allied forces into the Philippines mean in regard to Japanese supply of these materials?

It means that Allied planes and ships, not only from various bases in the South Pacific, but also from air fields and advanced naval bases in the Philippines, are far more able that ever before to sink Japanese ships laden with raw materials on their way from the rich southern treasure chest to the Japanese homeland. A few ships may still get through, but it is correct to say that for all practical purposes the life-line has been cut. With the supply situation in such difficulties, is it not so that the outcome of the war is, overall, a matter of time? May it not be that the Japanese militarists are continuing to fight on just to "save face?"ť


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Leaflet 9-J-1

This American WWII leaflet to the Japanese depicts a microphone in front on a bright red field. This leaflet does not ask the Japanese to listen to Allied radio, but instead attacks Japanese radio for lying to the troops on a regular basis. The leaflet depicts a microphone making false claims to the Japanese people about the Imperial Navy destruction of British and American ships. The theme is "Truth of Leaders." 750,000 of these were printed in Brisbane, Australia. The text on the front reminds the Japanese of all the lies they have been told:

The text on the front reminds the Japanese of all the lies they have been told.The text on the front is:

Excerpts from Radio Tokyo broadcasts:

The Americans apparently have no fleet left in the Pacific. – 25 Feb. 42.

The Japanese fleet has virtually destroyed the enemy forces. – 9 May 42.

All American British and Dutch fleets have been wiped out. The Japanese Navy dominates the Pacific. – 20 Sep. 42.

Japanese forces have wiped out the cream of the American fleet. – 20 Nov. 43

The text on the back is a variation on an old Japanese proverb:

Does hearing a thing 100 times equal thinking about it once?

When you are hearing or reading the war news, don't you sometimes have questions like the following:

If the American fleet was destroyed in 1942 and 1943, why was the Japanese fleet unable to prevent the retaking and holding of the Solomon Islands, New Guinea and Saipan?

If the main bulk of the American fleet was annihilated, could the American fleet have brought material and troops 9000 kilometers and landed them on the Philippine Islands?

If the Allied fleet suffered critical damage in the battle off the Philippines, how is it possible for the American forces to continue to land troops in the Philippines and keep spreading out over the islands? Why does the Japanese Navy allow the American fleet to dominate the seas around the Philippines?

When you think over these points, do the war reports of the military leaders always seem entirely reasonable to you?

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Leaflet 12-J-1

This is another in a long line of leaflets that talks about the inevitable defeat of Japan as the Allies slowly tighten the noose around the home islands and cut off the raw supplies needed for the war effort. The leaflet depicts American B-24 Liberators bombing the inaginary "oil pipeline" from Borneo to Japan. At the lower right, a Japanese pilot is trying to squeeze out a last drop of fuel for his Betty bomber. The text on the front is:

A Drop of Oil Equals a Drop of Blood. The Last Drop.

The text on the back is:


Nowadays the wild eagles on whom you rely on have not been showing themselves in the sky as often as before, and you have perhaps been feeling somewhat uneasy about it. But it would not be just to blame the pilots indiscriminately for the recent American landing on the Philippines has forced them to meet new conditions.

Because of America’s advancing attacks in the Philippines, Japan cannot help being hit hard in the matter of oil supply. The supply lines which tie together Japan, and the South Pacific are being cut. Allied planes, ships and submarines based in the Philippines, are steadily sinking Japanese ships filled with oil and other essential materials.

When your Wild Eagles do not deliver any counterblows against the relentless bombing by the Allied forces, may it not be that they are concerned with conserving oil?

Six Japanese prisoners were shown this leaflet and none believed the message. Some of their comments were: 

In Burma we were worried because our “Wild Eagles” did not appear, but I don’t believe that we have no oil in Japan. 

One drop of oil is one drop of blood. We have to save the oil. I believe that Japan will have abundant oil when the proper time comes. 

I cannot believe the statement. Maybe our military leaders have some plans and purpose for saving fuel.

The American B-24 Bomber PUNGGI over the Philippines

Since we mention the B-24 bomber here is an interesting painting by a Filipino of a lone B-24 bomber. Florante Villarica told me about a lone B-24 bomber that occasionally dropped gifts and leaflets over the Philippines: 

A lone B-24 Liberator bomber conducted regular early morning patrol in the skies of Calapan. It would fly low, buzzing the flagpole and roof-top of the garrison scaring the Japanese troops with several rounds of machine gun fire at soldiers scampering under the cover of their foxholes. 

Another time it bombed the dock and ship repair yards and oil depot in Lazareto. The bombing caused a plume of black smoke that can be seen for miles. 

At other times it dropped bags attached to small parachutes, containing, candies, canned goods and leaflet propaganda with a caricature of Japanese surrendering. The people waited for the big plane's "visit" every day and nicknamed it "Punggi which in local dialect means "tail-less." 


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Leaflet 30-J-1

This leaflet is entitled “Southern Treasure House.” The art depicts the Allies cutting off the southern supply lines. Text on the front is:

After establishing strange bases in New Guinea, the American forces made their advance to the Philippines and finally cut the supply lines which link Japan with the Southern Regions.

The back says in part:

The successful operation of American forces in the Philippines made possible the severing of the sea routes between Japan and the Southern Regions. The power of the American forces in the Philippines is growing stronger every day. The American Navy is reaching its might across the sea as far as Thailand and French Indo-China. The Air Forces cover the area from the Ryukyus Islands to Saigon, and is bombing shipping and military installations almost daily…

…As long as these conditions continue to exist, it is impossible for Japan to reopen the sea rotes to the Southern regions.

The “Treasure House of the South Seas” which was so depended upon by the military, now becomes useless. Japan can continue her war only as long as she is well supplied.

Theme: Their fleet is impotent.

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Leaflet 5-J-1

Leaflet 5-J-1 depicts the lonely position of Japan, attacked from every direction as its allies Germany and Italy fade away. This is an excellent image and even an illiterate could understand that the attacks are coming from every direction and Japan is helpless to resist. I should mention that when Italy capitulated, many Germans were happy, glad to be rid of what they considered a weak and needy ally. It would be interesting to know if the Japanese considered the loss of their allies an asset or a liability. The American name for this leaflet was "Lonely Japan" and 50,000 were dropped on Japanese forces on 19 November 1944. The text on the front is:

What can be Done Against Overwhelming Odds?

The back is all text:

When Germany and Italy are Gone

In any country the authorities decide all important matters. Soldiers are educated and trained to follow their orders and devote their entire effort to performing their duties. But what happens if their leaders give out an incorrect order? Isn’t it so that on such a mistake may hang not only the individual soldier’s fate, but even the welfare of the country?

The results of the mistakes committed by the militarists have become so obvious that it is beyond the slightest doubt.

The leaders knew very well that if they embarked on a war against both England and America alone, there was no chance of victory.

For this very reason they went into an adventurous military alliance with Germany and Italy. They thought that while Germany and Italy were fighting the Allies, drawing enemy strength to Europe, the enemy strength opposing Japan would be very small.

But what has happened? Italy crumbled some time ago and Allied troops are on German soil.

Japan now faces a crisis, in which the full strength of the Allied nations will soon be concentrated against her. Does she not feel lonely?

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Leaflet 6-J-1

A great number of Allied leaflets were aimed at Japanese on bypassed islands. MacArthur decided early not to fight the Japanese wherever they were. He picked his fights on selective high priority targets and left the Japanese defenders in his wake to starve on many bypassed islands. As a result, MacArthur had relatively low losses in his various island invasions. 500,000 of these leaflets were printed in Brisbane, Australia. The text on the front is:


Where are our Ships and Planes?

The text on the back of the leaflet is:

What is Going to Happen to You?

General MacArthur, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in the South pacific, recently paid high tribute to the brave actions of the Japanese soldier:

We cannot help giving our sympathy to you promising Japanese soldiers who have been forced into such miserable conditions as today. Your wild eagles, upon whom you depended so much, hardly show their faces, leaving you unprotected against the never-ending bombing of our air force.

The Japanese Navy is withdrawing its ships from their bases and U.S. troops are successively pouring into the Japanese naval bases. As a result, you are cut off from supplies and reinforcements and now you cannot even expect to be evacuated.

If you attempt to establish yourself in the mountains and make a last stand there, all that can happen is that disease will eat your flesh and hunger gnaws your bones, and your plight becomes worse and worse. Your comrades-in-arms, who were left behind in the Solomon Islands and New Guinea, died hoping that friendly ships and airplanes might come to their rescue.

Why must you die a futile death with this vain hope in your hearts?

The Leaflet News Letter of April 6, 1945 reports that leaflet 6-J-1 proved very effective, primarily because the condition of some of the units upon which they were dropped coincided with the conditions described in the leaflets. The picture of a Japanese soldier on an isolated island emphasizes the hopelessness of his cause and his abandonment by the Japanese Navy and Air Force. Some prisoners attributed the deterioration of the morale of their outfits to the fact that Allied leaflets were dropped at just the right moment.

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Leaflet 22-J-1

This leaflet shows a lonely Japanese soldier standing on a bypassed Island as he sees the flames of battle on another island. This leaflet targeted Japanese troops, especially on Luzon. The purpose is to demoralize troops by telling them that they will never be re-supplied. They have lost control of the sea and the air. The text is:

Soldiers of Japan

You fought hard and courageously. But within three months after the Americans landed in the Philippines they had advanced to the very heart of the Island – Manila. It is obvious that support and reinforcements have failed you, and you are forced to fight against hopeless odds.

Why is this?

Isn’t it because the large forces of Japanese troops in the Southern Regions have been outmaneuvered, immobilized and rendered useless? This is because Japan has completely lost control of the sea and air.

These large bi-passed garrisons look on idly, like men watching fires across a river, while you fight your decisive battle. There is no need to tell you that these troops have become ineffective as a fighting force, and their isolation will seriously affect the future conduct of the war.

Is it not another blunder on the part of your military leaders who, by blunder after blunder, have brought Japan to the very brink of disaster?

A Japanese prisoner of war said about this leaflet: 

This would not mean much as the Japanese do not expect reinforcements anyway. 

Theme: Their country is blockaded; their Pan-Asian dream is dead.

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Leaflet 10-J-1

This leaflet is interesting because it shows General MacArthur and Admiral Nimitz pulling a rope that is tightening a knot on Japan’s supply line. The leaflet was called "Japan's Lifeline." The text is on the front is:

Japan's Lifeline in Danger

The text on the back is:

The Key to the Outcome of the War

The Domei News Agency said on November 7, 1944:

"The Japanese loss of Leyte will disrupt sea lane transportation of our vessels in the Southern Regions, and it will endanger the transportation of our various raw materials from the Southern Regions to the Homeland."

Just how accurate was this prediction is shown by the successive military developments themselves.

The entire strength of the Army, Navy and Air Force under General MacArthur and Admiral Nimitz is now able to operate freely from newly captured bases in the Philippines. The sea route which connects the homeland of Japan and the Southern Regions is gradually being compressed.

The day is not far off when this sea route, which is called the Lifeline, will be cut; and Japanese shipping will be nailed down.

Will there not soon be a shortage of the fuel that airplanes need? The supply of rubber, tin and other vital materials needed for the implements of war will fall into great difficulty.

No matter how strong a soldier may be, when even the very supply lines cannot be protected, how can he satisfactorily perform his task?

One Japanese soldier surrendered with this leaflet and said that after seeing it he realized that they were fighting for a lost cause. A Japanese officer surrendered and said that the leaflet was written in such a way that any man with common sense could not help but see the truth of the message.

What is interesting about this leaflet is that it is the last one to use the term "American" or "Allied" in its text. I don't know why these words were removed, but the propaganda writers were told not to use them any further. A report was issued on the use of these words and one or the other is found in seven early leaflets. In several cases on earlier leaflets there was a handwritten explanation of why those words were used. In one case where "Allies" was used, it was explained that it was believed the Australians would take part in the operation.

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American C-47 Dropping Leaflets

We mention November in the paragraph above and that reminds me of a Diary entry by Louise Fillmore Blancaflor, dated 4 November 1944 and mentioned in the Philippine Diary Project:

Last night at 8:00 p.m. a Japanese plane circled over us three times. At 3:00 a.m. this morning we heard a drone, and in the early morning light we saw three planes flying very high over us.

This morning at 10:00 a.m., we counted 16 American planes flying overhead. We always wonder and fear whether they will bomb or not. We are so close to the Japanese garrison.All the Japanese soldiers went to their shelters. At 2:00 p.m. one beautiful, silver plane (American) flew overhead and dropped leaflets. The Japanese will not allow the civilians to pick them up.

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Report on Psychological Warfare in the Southwest Pacific Area 1944-1945
Declassified September 1958
This copy of the declassified report sold at auction for $202 in 2015

This leaflet seems to have worked. In Report on Psychological Warfare in the Southwest Pacific Area 1944-1945 we find the comment:

A prisoner who surrendered with a leaflet showing General MacArthur standing in the Philippines and Admiral Nimitz standing on a battleship pulling taut a noose around the Japanese lifeline to the Netherlands East Indies claimed that they realized they were fighting a lost cause and that the sooner a stop could be put to the war the better.

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Leaflet 13-J-1

This leaflet depicts the Philippine Islands surrounded by Allied ships that blockade Japanese shipping coming down from the north and crucial supplies like oil and rubber heading north to Japan from her occupied territories. The title of the leaflet is "Ring of Ships." The text on the front is:

The South Seas are the South Seas; Japan is Japan

The text on the back is:

In a speech before the Diet on last September 7, War Minister Marshall Sugiyama said:

“It is most regrettable that the various Japanese front lines are being handicapped by the deterioration of our supply lines and bases.”

This statement was made before the American landing in the Philippines. What is the situation now?

Allied planes, ships and submarines based on the Philippines surround the islands and are able to search out and destroy Japanese ships from southern regions laden with oil, rubber, tin, etc.

What chance do vital materials such as these, which are needed in your war industry, have of arriving in Japan?

The condition of Japanese supply lines and bases has deteriorated further since the War Minister's speech. It is still deterating and as time goes on the situation can only become worse.

However hard you try, how is it possible to fight properly without adequate supplies?

Theme: Trust the Americans to be kind and to provide good treatment to prisoners-of-war.

Leaflet 7-J-1

This leaflet shows the good treated afforded Japanese prisoners and how they responded. 750,000 of these leaflets were printed in Brisbane, Australia. In this case, the leaflet was folded and opens to show four pages. Page 1 depicted an image of Mt. Fuji. At the top in English and Japanese it depicts a letter sent from prisoners thanking the Americans for their good treatment. It says:

Lt. R ………                                                                                                               Jan 14th, 1944

We thank you very much for your kind treatment given to us during our stay at the Finchaven P.O.W stockade.

Saburo and 282 others

The text below the image is:

Expressing the deep emotion of 283 Japanese soldiers, the picture above was presented to the officer who cared for them after a reconciliation had been effected. Typical Japanese courtesy is shown by the fact that the artist dated the inscription in Western style. Pictures inside show how these men and others are reacting to their new life. [Eyes are covered to protect their identity].

Pages 2 and 3 depicted five photographs of happy Japanese prisoners of war, and the back page showed four more prisoners. Some of the text is:

Your comrades-in-arms who are on the road to rebirth.

1. Proudly displaying his artwork.
2. Recuperating in an Allied hospital.
3. A moment during the evacuation. “Let’s have a smoke.”
4. Before going out to the morning’s work.

5. The unforgettable aroma of tea.

The captions of the photos on the back are:

1. Enjoying breakfast.
2. After receiving treatment from a medical officer.
3. Let’s have a smoke.
4. Busy at his favorite handy work.

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Leaflet 15-J-1

There are many leaflets showing happy prisoners in American POW camps. I like this one because it seems to acknowledge that the Japanese might hate American cooking…but it then tells them that they will get used to it. An interesting use of propaganda text. The front features dozens of Japanese prisoners of war enjoying American chow. The text is:

Yesterday we were Enemies. Today we are Friends.

Occidental food tastes good too, when you get used to it.

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Back of leaflet

The back depicts the same prisoners taking part in arts and crafts. Although hard to be sure, it seems they are carving and painting buses or railroad models. Some of the text is:

Busily engaged in handicrafts.

Your comrades who came over to our side are guaranteed food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and recreation, in accordance with international law.

The eyes are covered since it was American policy to protect the prisoners and their families. However, this also allowed the Japanese to say that they were not true Japanese prisoners, but American actors. Later in the war many Japanese POWs were shown without the eyes being covered.

In a confidential study on the effects of American propaganda in the Philippines, a Japanese Domei correspondent admitted that “It could be said that one of the biggest problems facing us is to minimize the effects of food propaganda on Japanese soldiers.” Branding this type of appeal as contrary to the soul and spirit of the Japanese, the author added that the mere mention of good food and the picture in the leaflet undoubtedly caused some impression on the average Japanese soldier who has been suffering from short rations. Then, as if to minimize the statement, he concluded, “But, of course, no Japanese will submit himself to the thought of surrender, for to the true soldier of the Emperor privation and death are more honorable than surrender.”

The following X Corps report also reveals the demoralizing effects of hunger on the enemy:

The Japanese soldier saw several American leaflets and decided to surrender in spite of the fear that, he would be killed upon capture. He had already started in the direction of the American lines. On the morning of his capture, he was cooking bananas when three guerrillas approached him. Since he was already to surrender, he ran out to meet the trio with his hands over his head and handed them a surrender leaflet. He stated he would never have surrendered were it not for the leaflet. He thought they were effective, and was particularly impressed by the American offer of food and medical aid.

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Australian Leaflet J-306

I thought the reader might be interested in where the PWB got its inspiration from. Australia was fighting the Japanese before the Americans joined the war and had already printed and disseminated hundreds of propaganda leaflets. When the Americans came, the Australians pitched in and helped bring them up to speed. Here is an Australian leaflet showing happy Japanese being fed. Note that the eyes are covered to protect the identities in the Australian leaflet too. This leaflet tells the Japanese that they have fought a brave and courageous battle even though they are in grievous need of everything. They will never receive supplies or be reinforced. It tells them that if they come over to the Allies they will be well-treated, fed and receive medical attention. The promise is made in the name of the Commander-in-Chief of Allied Forces.

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Leaflet 18-J-1

Several American leaflets show the Japanese playing games such as Chess, Chinese checkers or Go. This leaflet shows some happy prisoners playing pool in an American prisoner-of-war camp in the Philippines. The text is:

Yesterday we were Enemies, Today we are Friends.

Articles approved by the International Convention on treatment of prisoners of war, which was signed by 29 nations at Geneva on June 27, 1929 contain the following:

Prisoners of war shall be treated humanely

The food ration of prisoners of war shall be equivalent to that of the depot troops.

Each came shall possess an infirmary for the prisoners of war.

A scene during the rest period.

Eyes have been covered to protect their families in Japan.

I should point out that time and again this covering of the eyes has been proven not to work. In the Korean war the U.S. depicted Chinese prisoners with their eyes covered to protect them and according to Dr. Jared M. Tracy, Deputy Command Historian for the U.S. Army Special Operations Command in his book titled VICTORY THROUGH INFLUENCE:

There were challenges in writing and printing leaflets. Leaflet 7042 showed POWs receiving food and medical care. Their eyes were blacked out to prevent identification. The practice was discontinued when the Communists used these leaflets to show how the UN mistreated people by removing their eyes.

In the Vietnam War when civilians were pictured or shown with their eyes covered, the Communists and Viet Cong claimed that they were not Vietnamese, but instead American actors from Hollywood.

There are numerous other leaflets in the form of bomb warnings. We will not depict them because for the most part they are all text. We should mention leaflet 101-F-1 that was specifically printed for Filipino natives in the Cagayan Valley. 300,000 of these all-text leaflets were printed in Tagalog on one side and Ilocano on the other. The message is:


To all Filipino People in the Cagayan Valley

Filipino people, stay away from the Japanese and Japanese materials. We are going to bomb and strafe your area. Move to the hills and if possible go behind the guerilla lines.

Stay away from the Japanese or you may be killed.

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Leaflet 103-J-1

This leaflet is one of a series that depicts the good treatment that the Japanese can expect as an American prisoner. For instance, leaflet 15-J-1 shows POWs eating good food and taking part in handicrafts; leaflet 16-J-1 shows POWs eating and planting a garden; leaflet 29-J-1 depicts POWs gardening, playing “GO,” drinking tea; and learning crafts. The leaflet above depicts a group of POWs just hanging around and enjoying a smoke. Some of the text is:

We deeply respect your courage. But now the tide of war has turned. You have come to the final step and must choose between life and death. Think this over! Does a needless death serve your country?

Americans are treating your comrades well according to international law. They are living together and all have returned to health.

One Japanese prisoner recommended that these leaflets depict not just a few, but instead hundreds of prisoners. He said that knowing so many had already surrendered; it would be less difficult for a Japanese soldier to make the decision to surrender. Another recommended that these photographs always show the tables piled high with food as many of the Japanese were starving.

Leaflet 16-J-1

I mention this leaflet directly above but was not going to depict it since the image is much like many other leaflets showing Japanese prisoners. However, the text was so odd, so peculiar, that I decided that I should show it. It differs quite a bit from the usual American propaganda message. Some of the text is:

"Throughout the world you won't find any devils." People are human beings, with the instinct of humanity. In the heat of battle, we have very little understanding of one another's feelings, nor do we have time to think about them. Now, suppose for a moment you came over to the American forces. You would learn many things you never knew before. You would have a new and better point of view. For instance, this photograph gives you one example.

"Race and language may differ, but sincerity creates understanding." The International Law of treatment of prisoners of war, which was signed by 29 nations at Geneva on 27 July 1929 has the following articles.

The leaflet ends by quoting three articles of the Geneva Convention.

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Leaflet 128-J-1

Many of the “trust the Americans’ themed leaflets showed soldiers with happy children. This leaflet depicts an American with a small Okinawan child. The text says:

A little Okinawan girl has made friends with a soldier.

Saying “Give me candy” and “Let’s play,” she has flustered her big American friend.

Isn’t this a pleasant scene?


This leaflet was prepared on 20 November 1944 and called Prisoner of War #1. It was obviously meant to be the first in a series of leaflets about the good treatment Japanese prisoners would receive at the hands of the Americans. It was written by a Japanese POW so the spelling and grammar should be correct. The leaflet was printed by the Reproduction Section of the 929th Engineer Aviation Regiment. The leaflet has Japanese Calligraphy on the front:


The text on the back is:

To the Men on the Battlefield

I am a prisoner of the Americans. They are not Devils but very humane [literally “God-like]. Every day they treat all of us kindly. Since becoming a prisoner-of-war I have realized for the first time that I will be able to live a longer life and I am very grateful to them. Let us stop fighting immediately and look forward to the time of peace when we can all live happily.


The very plain leaflet has Japanese Calligraphy on the front. It targeted small units that were cut off and unable to escape. The information sheet added: MUST NOT BE USED ELSEWHERE. The writing on the front was done by a 6th Army Calligrapher and is:


The text on the back of the leaflet was written by a Japanese Prisoner-of-war:


I am a prisoner of the Americans, but every day I receive warm treatment from them. With tears in my eyes, I am grateful to them.

I was astonished to see the new type of tanks, war ships, planes, and guns. I realized for the first time that we are losing the war to the Americans. At present what hopes are left for you? Be at ease and think of the future - the new Japan.

Surrender immediately and let us wait for peace.

Note: A memorandum was prepared that tells other American forces how this leaflet had been prepared. It says in part:

The following text was given to Staff Sergeant Ogawa, the Sixth Army PWB Japanese language man, to have it written by a Japanese prisoner of war (Sergeant Major). Sergeant Ogawa translated the text orally to the POW, and the POW put the thoughts into writing. Sergeant Ogawa then translated the text written by the POW. Notice that the POW did not mention torture in any way, the emphasis was changed from Japan losing the war to the U.S. winning the war, there was no mention of "duty" in the new text, and the surrender appeal is direct rather than indirect.

Remarks: It is believed that this POW can be of great value in the preparation of additional leaflets. He has already written six and is at work on more.

The information sheet for this leaflet bears the warning:

For small Japanese units, defeated and cut off from escape. MUST NOT BE USED ELSEWHERE.

Theme: Cite the military clique incompetence in foreign affairs and on the home and fighting fronts.

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Leaflet 23-J-1

This leaflet depicts Japanese officers playing chess. The Japanese form of chess is called Shogi (General’s Game) and is supposed to train the officers in aggressive strategy. This leaflet points out how bad their commander’s strategy has been during the course of the war. General MacArthur’s and Yamashita’s sleeves are labelled and the position of the chess pieces clearly shows that Yamashita is checkmated.

The text on the front of the leaflet is:


The text on back says in part:

Two Strategies

For the past two years it has been perfectly clear to the Japanese military leaders that the advance of General MacArthur’s American forces has been directed toward the Philippines.

Yet, when the Americans landed at Leyte, General Yamashita was caught unprepared and his desperate, last-minute defensive strategy was ineffective, resulting in an enormous sacrifice of human life.

General MacArthur has consistently outmaneuvered Yamashita and other Japanese leaders…

The war steadily draws nearer your beloved homeland. Isn’t this the fault of your military leaders who are responsible for the loss of hundreds of thousands of valuable lives?

One Japanese prisoner stated that the layout of the chess game was not logical. He further pointed out that it would have been better to place the words “Americans” and “Japanese” on the sleeves rather than the names of the generals. Many Japanese soldiers would not recognize the names of the superior officers.

Theme: Japan is alone.

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Chinese Checkers

Perhaps we should take a look at some of these games depicted on American leaflets. We have already noted that 18-J-1 depicted men playing pool and 23-J-1 depicted Japanese chess. Leaflet 701B has the code of an OWI leaflet but was also printed by the PWB. It depicts prisoners of war playing Chinese checkers. When I was a boy everyone I knew had the big wooden board with the holes drilled out in the form of a six-pointed star. It was a very popular game. This leaflet was designed to make the Japanese think about killing themselves in Banzai charges. Some of the text is:

If you consider seppuku…

You will be the last of your family. You won’t be able to carry on your line.

No good to you, your family or to Japan will come from such an act.

When the war is over soon, you will not be able to work for the new Japan


Leaflet 29-J-1

Go is a favorite game of the Japanese, chess-like in some ways and very strategic. PWB leaflet 29-J-1 is a large leaflet that discusses the good treatment of prisoners of war and has a total of nine different photographs of happy POWs. The leaflet text claims that the pictures were presented to the Americans by 283 Japanese interned in one of the camps:

This picture was presented by 283 Japanese interned at Finschhafen [New Guinea] to one of our officers in charge of the camp, expressing their thanks for the kind treatment given to them. We believe this action shows very well how refined and courteous these internees are. It inspired us greatly, and for this reason we are reproducing this picture for you. The pictures inside show a bit of the daily life of this group and your comrades in other areas. (Eyes are covered to protect their families in Japan).

The title of the leaflet is:

Your Comrades-in-Arms who are on the Road to Rebirth

Some of the captions on the other pictures on the same page are:

Taking care of the flower garden.
Patients regaining strength in the hospital are playing GO.
Working in the vegetable garden.
Before going out to the morning’s work.
The unforgettable aroma of tea.

Note: Early in the war the faces of the Japanese were hidden for their protection. The Japanese government attacked these photos claiming that those people photographed were not really Japanese and could be American Hollywood actors. As a result, as the war went on, the blocks were removed and the Japanese faces were fully depicted.

A U.S. Office of Strategic Services secret memorandum dated 11 January 1944 says that the Japanese have embodied all of their strategic theories in this game. It is an “almost obligatory” game to be studied by Japanese Army and Navy staff officers. The writer says that it is not a game as much as it is a way to study war just as American officers do at Ft. Leavenworth. The writer points out that there has been an English-language book written about this game by a Mister Edward Lasker and suggests that it could be concentrated into a 30-page booklet that American propagandists could use to study the Japanese military strategy.

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Leaflet 26-J-1

Leaflet 26-J-1 was dropped over Japanese troops and civilians. The front of the leaflet depicts a large leaf marked "Berlin" falling from a Kiri (Royal Paulownia) tree. Berlin had just surrendered to the Allies. The leaf on the ground is marked "Rome" which had surrendered earlier. The remaining leaf on the tree is marked "Tokyo" and the implication is that they will be surrendering soon. The falling of the Kiri leaf carries with it a feeling of doom to the Japanese. The text on the back is:

The great German army which once overran the entire continent of Europe has been pushed back by Allied forces until their capital city, Berlin, has now fallen. The European war is in its last days.

What is going to happen to Japan now left behind in isolation?

Even now, after the fall of Berlin, your military leaders continue to force the people to greater sacrifices and privations by saying that they must fight to the very last, even at the expense of scorching their beloved homeland.

Do you think your military leaders are following the wisest road?

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Leaflet 27-J-1

It has often been said that when Italy surrendered, Germany rejoiced thinking that they were better off fighting the war alone. In this case, the Allies tell the Japanese that the Germans have been defeated and millions of troops in Europe are now free to fight Japan. Of course, those troops did receive orders for the Pacific but the dropping of the two atomic bombs and the Japanese surrender meant that the American armies in Europe never had to deploy to the Far East. The image on the front depicts an American soldier stepping from a defeated Germany toward Japan. Some of the text on the back is:

The German military force has surrendered and the greatest war in history which turned Europe into a scene of carnage is now over.

As a result, the tremendous amount of Allied weapons and manpower concentrated in Europe will now be transferred to the Orient.

What does this mean to your military leaders who today are having difficulties in even maintaining your supply lines?

The Japanese military leaders are the ones who are leading your beloved country to disaster. They relied greatly on Japan’s Axis partners and embarked upon this adventurous war of so-called “Greater East Asia.” The grave responsibility of this policy is on their shoulders.

It is worth mentioning that although this text appears almost perfect in western eyes, U.S. Office of War Information research and evaluation at the end of the war indicated that propaganda text that attacked the Japanese leadership was among the least effective of the war. For the most part, the Japanese respected and revered their leaders.

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Image from War Department Pamphlet 21-31


When I see the above leaflet telling of the surrender of Germany I always think of this 1945 War Department image that shows US troops leaving Europe and approaching Japan, and in one case sticking a bayonet in it. The booklet is preparing those soldiers stationed in Europe for deployment in the Pacific. We see terms like “the defeat of the Nazis would have required even a longer and more costly effort had not every essential man and woman in the armed forces been on hand for the job” and “all those who are essential must be available for the last great push.”

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Leaflet 28-J-1

This leaflet depicts a lone Japanese soldier sitting on a log and reading about the end of the war in Europe. This leaflet was called "Peace in Europe". The headline on the newspaper is The European War had ended.

There is a short poem on the front of the leaflet:

A single leaf of the paulownia falls

And sad are the waters of Naniwa

The poem commemorates the fall of Osaka Castle, which marked the end of the Toyotomi-Tokugawa War, and established the Tokugawa Shogunate.

The back is all text:

Peace has come to Europe

The greatest European war in history, which turned the continent into a scene of carnage, is now over. The bells of peace are ringing far and wide.

The day is not far off when the soldiers, who have grown gaunt with hunger and disease in the front line and smoke of battle, will return to their own peaceful homes, longed for these many years. They will enjoy the great happiness of reunion with their families.

The strains of carnage will disappear, and soon the time of the budding spring foliage will come to the hills, fields, and villages.

Leaflet 42-J-6

This U.S. Sixth Army leaflet also uses the German defeat as a theme. However, this leaflet was prepared long before the actual capitulation. The front depicts a surrendering German soldier at the left and at the right a lightning bolt aimed at Japan. The back depicts a map with numerous Allied thrusts aimed at the Home Islands. It was apparently prepared in advance on 31 March 1945 and scheduled to be dropped as soon as the German capitulation was official. Hitler committed suicide on 30 April 1945, but the actual surrender was not signed until 7 May 1945. Some of the text is:


Germany Capitulates

The Fall of Japanese Militarism is Near!

After six long years of war, the mighty German military machine was defeated by determined and well-equipped Allied armies. U.S. and British armies, which are now assigned to Europe, will be transferred to the Pacific with all speed. Japan will now face such powerful nations as the United States, Great Britain, China, Australia, Canada and other countries. These nations are determined to defeat Japanese militarism and put an end to it.

The back of the leaflet has a small map where all the Allied forces racing toward Japan are depicted in bright red, especially the US forces that were fighting Germany. Some of the text is:

Japan, once a powerful country among the Axis nations, is now the sole survivor without support. Japan now must face the overwhelming force of the Allied armies as did Germany and Italy. The war in Europe has come to an end. Japan is now in the center of the Allied spotlight.

After Germany lost several million troops as prisoners-of-war to the Allied Armies, the remaining German allies could not withstand the slashing blows of the Allied Air and Ground forces and surrendered.

Now is the time for you to deeply think about Japan. We will not say any more. It is up to you.

Leaflet 41-J-6

Sometimes the 6th Army showed a sense of humor. In this leaflet it makes fun of Japanese General Yamamoto and tries to make his tactics a joke to the Japanese troops. The leaflet bears the title "Who’s chasing who?" and the front depicts in bright red the movement of American troops across the Pacific with the arrow pointed directly at Tokyo. Some of the long text is:


The DOMEI newspaper of 12 January reported that General Yamashita said, "The enemy is at long last in our hands. At last Douglas MacArthur is in my trap. I have been chasing the enemy's commander all over the southern seas area and each time he has slipped away from me. This time it will be a different and a face-to-face meeting will be realized."

Japan itself seems to be the next logical place for Yamashita to chase MacArthur. How long do you think it will be before they meet there?

On the map the shaded area shows all the Japanese positions the Americans have conquered. The text lists the names and dates when all the places were taken by the Americans. The last item is Tokyo and the text asks: Taken?

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Leaflet 111-J-1

This leaflet has a long text on the back pointing out how the militarists have lied and how they will soon be driven from Japan. The front depicts a Japanese family standing in front of the rusted military remnants of the war and looking at a newly rebuilt Japan. The leaflet targets Japanese troops everywhere. The text was revised slightly on 26 May 1945 so depending on which leaflet you have the translation might differ a bit. Text on the front is:

Road to a new life

Some of the text on the back is:

Those who believe anything the military leaders say still dream of Japan’s ultimate victory.

But frankly, you soldiers in the front must feel that your hope for victory is withering away and that fear and restlessness are creeping deeper into your heart every day…

You fought gallantly. But the fortunes of war were against you and you are placed in the miserable condition you find yourself now. Isn’t this the time to think about the future when each and every one of you will be needed in Japan?

The war should not last very long now that the American forces have almost completely occupied Okinawa, the most important island in the Ryukyu Group. Your comrades-in-arms who have been under American protection are showing gratitude for the way they are being treated. They have recovered their health and are enjoying community living.

There is not the slightest doubt that when the military leaders disappear from the surface of Japan, a new and peaceful country can be built. That will be the time when you must devote your entire effort to rebuilding your country and to looking after your families. This is your greatest responsibility.

It is easy to die but hard to live. You must throw away any recklessness now and must find a way out for life so that you may be able to discharge this great responsibility.

Theme: Their tactics and equipment inferior.

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Leaflet 33-J-1

A number of Allied leaflets attacked the inferior weapons that Japanese soldiers were issued. The type 38 rifle is a good example. It fired a very weak 6.5 x 50mm bullet that had little knock-down power. It was later replaced by a Type 99 rifle, based on the type 38 but still with a small caliber of 7.7 mm. The leaflet depicts the type 38 rifle rusting by a pile of other Japanese military debris. The object was to create a sense of helplessness by causing the Japanese to lose confidence in their weapons. Japanese POWs were questioned about the rifle and the text contains some of their thoughts. The text is:

As you know, the type 38 rifle you are using succeeded the Murata rifle and first appeared on the battlefield as a new weapon for use in the Russo-Japanese War.

But that was 40 years ago. Everyone know that since that time the various countries vying with one another have been absorbed in scientific studies, and that great advances have been made in the development of military equipment.

Why, then, do you have to fight against automatic weapons with rifles of the bolt-action type? If you fought with new weapons like the Americans, perhaps tragedies like Leyte might have been avoided. However much spiritual strength you have, how can you expect to fight a 500 kilogram bomb from a bomber with a Type 38 rifle?

By Coincidence, Allison B. Gilmore mentions this leaflet in The Foundations of Victory: The Pacific War - 1943-1944. She discusses an interrogation report in which a Japanese prisoner said:

The Government is trying to create the impression among the men that because they are Japanese and therefore possess the Yamato spirit they cannot lose battles and cannot be destroyed. They shipped us to distant lands—to New Guinea and Guadalcanal—and expected us to win the war with Type 38 Rifles and the Yamato spirit, but without food or airplane protection. Are they expecting five feet of Yamato spirit to overwhelm 500 kilogram bombs from B-24s? This is absurd.

The propagandists immediately recommended a series of leaflets to portray the “one-sided character of the present struggle” and demonstrate the futility of the war. In this case, the process of propaganda creation culminated with a leaflet describing the history of the Type 38 rifle, which was first used in the Russo-Japanese War, and the advances made in military technology since then:

Why then do you have to fight against automatic rifles with rifles of the bolt-action type? If you had fought with new weapons like the Americans, perhaps tragedies like Leyte might have been avoided. However much spiritual strength you may have, how can you expect to tackle a 500kg bomb from a bomber with a Type 38 rifle?

Theme: Prove that the military clique has lied and are still lying about the war.

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Leaflet 11-J-1

This leaflet depicts a Japanese patriotic magazine and features the stories about alleged American naval losses during the war. It is clear that the militarists have lied. Some of the text is:


During the lulls in battle, don’t you sometimes wonder about the war reports put out by your leaders?

For instance, the number of heavy American warships shown as sunk or badly damaged in the “Pictorial Weekly” chart is larger than the total number possessed by America during that time.

Suppose the Americans really had lost this great number of ships. How could they have gone on step by step to retake most of New Guinea, and the islands of Saipan, Guam, Palau, Morotai, etc? However great America’s productive capacity, she cannot fight with paper battleships.

Great victories were claimed for the sea battle off Formosa. You may remember how the military leaders, speaking on the radio, said this battle had dealt a sledge-hammer blow to the American Philippine campaign and definitely frustrated the American plan.

But strangely enough, the American forces landed on the Philippines just five days later.

Possibly to set your minds at ease and give you cause to rejoice, another great victory was claimed in the naval battles off the Philippines.

But men! Why is it that every time these victories are announced, the American forces come closer to the homeland of Japan, while your plight in battle becomes more desperate?

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Leaflet 24-J-1

PWB Leaflet 24-J-1 depicts arrows from the Philippines pointing northward and giving the distances to China, Formosa and Japan. It announces the fall of Manila to the Japanese troops and its strategic importance. Some of the text is:

Manila has fallen

For three years the Japanese military leaders knew that the American offensive was pointed at Manila. They had plenty of time to prepare for the defense of the city. Yet, once the Americans launched their attack, the city fell easily. With the recapture of the capital city, the American Army now dominates the entire Philippines. The American forces, in high morale, are poised for still another strike closer to the homeland.

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Manila after the American Hard-fought Victory

The leaflet is actually very misleading and I am surprised it was printed. The Japanese did not intend to defend Manila. It was just a rebellious commander that decided on his own to defend the city and the battle was extremely difficult with street-to-street fighting and extreme destruction. The battle raged for one month from 3 February to 3 March 1945 and culminated in a terrible bloodbath and total devastation of the city. It was the worst urban fighting in the Pacific theater. General Tomoyuki Yamashita, commander in chief of Japanese forces in the Philippines ordered General Yokoyama Shizuo to evacuate the city and destroy all bridges and other vital installations. Rear Admiral Iwabuchi Sanji was left in charge of the city and decided to defend it to the last man. The battle left 1,010 U.S. soldiers dead and 5,565 wounded. An estimated 100,000 Filipinos civilians were killed, and well over 16,665 Japanese dead were confirmed.

In general, leaflets should be very honest so that the enemy fully believes in their message. In this case the Japanese must have known that this message was false and I wonder what it did to their belief in the veracity of other PWB leaflets.

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Leaflet 32-J-1

This leaflet points out the lies told by the militarists and the political and military leaders of Japan. Three news stories are featured on the front, each an obvious falsehood.The third story seems to be the most interesting because it is a quote from General Yamashita, speaking on Tokyo Radio on February 11, 1945:

At long last Douglas MacArthur is in my iron trap. I have been chasing him all over the southern sea, but each time he has slipped away. This time it will be different and my pleasure at a face-to-face meeting will be realized.

The text on the back is:

After establishing strong bases in New Guinea, the American forces continued their advance and soon succeeded in reoccupying Manila and taking control of the Philippines. Now, with the establishment of more firm bases, they will continue to advance.

The fact that the war is drawing nearer and nearer to the homeland of Japan, is also clear from the bombing of the homeland by B-29 bombers, and the capture of Iwo Jima.

Is it not true that no matter what you do, nothing can affect the war’s progress toward the home islands?

Yamashita had little pleasure from his battle with MacArthur. At the end of the war he refused to commit hara kiri and was arrested and tried as a war criminal. Although it appeared that Yamashita was not in charge of the troops that committed atrocities in Manila, he was held ultimately responsible and hung on 23 February 1946. Although never proven, there was some talk at the time that General MacArthur held a grudge and wanted his revenge for being driven out of the Philippines.

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Leaflet 101-J-1

This leaflet depicts Formosa (Taiwan), the Ryukyus Islands (Okinawa) and Japan under American bombing attacks from Iwo Jima, Saipan and Luzon and points out that the Gumbatsu (A mixture of rich industrialists and high government and military leaders) have lied time and again. At some point there was a revision of the text although the image on the front and the code number was the same. Some of the original text is:

Luzon – Left behind by the

Though groups of isolated Japanese soldiers remain in the hills, the battle for Luzon is over, and American forces with great determination are attacking the homeland of Japan.

Formosa is in flames and Iwo Jima has fallen to the Americans. Tokyo, Nagoya and Kobe have been intensely bombed. A great American army has landed on Okinawa.

The tide of battle has passed beyond you. The Gumbatsu have left you to rot. Should you doubt this, ask yourself:

“Where are the planes you have been promised?”  Not one Japanese Wild Eagle sours over your head.

“Where is your Navy?”  The Imperial Japanese Navy has been attacked by American forces in the Island Sea.

Do not let your officers deceive you any longer. We of the United States, pledge that the Gumbatsu will be destroyed. Then there will be peace again and Japan will be re-born.

Your greatest duty now, and most important, is to live; to be ready for the reconstruction of your beloved homeland.

It appears that the text on the back was revised at a later date to better tell the Japanese troops of their current position. The new text is similar to the original, but goes into more detail and is certainly more defeatist. Some examples of the revised text:

To Japanese soldiers – As you know Japanese soldiers in the Philippines have withdrawn to the mountains. You too are in this situation and the battle for Luzon is almost over.

All parts of Formosa are daily bomb targets, while the military installations in Tokyo, Nagoya, Kobe and all large cities are exposed to bomb attacks. Iwo Jima is in American hands and the U.S. Army is fighting fiercely to occupy Okinawa. That island’s capture is just a matter of time.

The war has already moved from the Philippines to the Japanese homeland. You have been left to your fate. If you doubt this, think over what appears below.

Where are the planes that were to come to your assistance and what are they doing? Have you seen a single plane bearing the Rising Sun fly over? Where is the Japanese Navy that boasted only last spring that it would destroy the U.S. Navy? What has it done?

Do not let your officers mislead you. For the sake of Japan’s future, think about living to build a peaceful country after the war. It is your duty to consider the future of your country and to make every effort to prolong your life for your beloved ancestral land.

Leaflet 1-F-1

This is an interesting leaflet that uses sarcasm to attack a "Captain Konno" who obviously is a spokesman for the Japanese and seems to write and talk and perhaps has a radio broadcast in the Philippines that is anti-American. The leaflet says that both Filipinos and Americans laugh at his amusing and astonishing figures listing Japanese and American victories. At the bottom it explains that the leaflet was prepared for the Filipinos on 7 December 1944 by the PWB Intelligence Section for the U.S. 1st Cavalry Division to be dropped on Samar

Theme: Appeals against self-destruction and for self-preservation. 

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Leaflet 107-J-1

This leaflet is mentioned in Paul M.A. Linebarger’s book, psychological warfare, Washington Infantry Press, Washington D.C., 1948. He says:

On March 5 of every year the Japanese celebrate the colorful custom of Boy’s Day. Kites in the form of carp are flown over the cities and countryside and millions of families set out to give their little sons an excursion or some other treat. (It is characteristic of the Japanese that there is no Girl’s day).

The leaflet depicts two carp kites on the front and some of the following text:


The whole world knows that from ancient times the Japanese have had great love for their children…

As we are all aware, the Samurai displayed their war banners, spears and other weapons to indicate their prestige and power and it was to emulate this that the common people flew carp banners high in the sky, asking a blessing for their children. These carp banners overwhelmed the crests and banner of the Samurai.

We have deep appreciation and understanding of your love for children.

Is there ever a day when you do not think about the children you left at home? You may remain silent, but deep in your heart you remember the innocently smiling children to whom you bade farewell. How can you forget?

When, after hard fighting, you sleep like one who is dead, your favorite dreams must be those of the happy hours when you were home with your children.

As you know, this great war has finally reached the Japanese homeland and large cities are being bombed.

Even mothers are being drafted for war work. The result is that the children are nearly forgotten…Schools are now closed and one cannot help being anxious when he thinks of the post-war future of Japan and of those children who could not receive a proper education.

You must guard the strength of the new Japan – your treasure, your children

What silver, gold or gem
is more precious than a child?

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Leaflet 110-J-1

Many American leaflets tried to convince the Japanese to live rather than take part in Kamikaze attacks, hopeless Banzai charges and Hara kiri ritual suicide. This leaflet tries to use a photograph of happy children to convince the soldier to stay alive to return home. Some of the text is:

Where is Daddy?

The words of Prince Mito:

To rush into the thick of battle and to be slain in it is easy enough, and the merest churl is equal to the task: but it is true courage to live when it is right to live, and to die only when it is right to die.

Is this not the time to live?

[Note] "Churl" seems to be a rather old word, meaning "peasant, rude and ill-bred fellow."

Leaflet 147-J-1

Regarding suicide, this leaflet depicts the scene for Harikari or Seppuku, the Japanese ritual suicide. I have mentioned in other articles that we often asked the enlisted men not to kill themselves, but we never seemed to worry about the officers. Perhaps we thought they were too indoctrinated to stay alive and learn to live under a democracy. The front of the leader shows the place where the individual will get on his knees, open his coat and shirt, and slice his belly open with the knife on the low table. Usually, a trusted friend will stand behind him holding a samurai sword to kill the person should they show some weakness and to protect his name and honor.  The U.S. produced many leaflets urging to enlisted soldiers to preserve their lives, here they ask that the military leaders, the officer class, be urged to commit suicide. The text on the back is:

When the tide turned against the Japanese on Okinawa and defeat became certain, the leaders there carried out the tradition of the Japanese warrior and took full responsibility, ending their lives.

What of the military leaders in Tokyo who sent these brave men and thousands of other brave men to their deaths? Far from accepting responsibility for the crushing defeats Japan has suffered, they are no seeking to place the burden of defending the Homeland on the shoulders of the people.

It is time they admitted their failure as leaders and obeyed the code which they demand their followers obey. If they do not take that action, the people should demand that they do so.

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Leaflet 116-J-1

This is a tactical leaflet designed for the Vigan-Suivee area. It is a two color map that depicts the American and Japanese positions. Some of the long text on the back is:

After the American Army landed at Lingayen Gulf you fought bravely against overwhelming American forces. You did your full duty as soldiers, but the fortunes of war went against you. You have now been forced to retreat to a corner of Northern Luzon, where you are encircled by our forces.

The American forces, constantly increasing in strength and fully supplied with every sort of military equipment, have established an impregnable position. On every battlefield in Luzon the remaining Japanese forces are being mopped up and the finish of the Philippine campaign is now only a matter of time…

Soldiers! If you decide on rebirth, in order that mistakes may not occur, throw away your weapons and approach our positions or sentries with this leaflet. The time to come is between sunrise and sunset. We hope you make your decision quickly.

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Leaflet 117-J-1
Grass for my Pillow

This is another leaflet that uses the theme of the cut-off Japanese soldier left on an island as the Allies pass him by. The image is always very sentimental and sad. In this leaflet, a realistic looking soldier dozes on a hillside while a dog, silhouetted against the sky lifts its head in a mournful howl. This May 1945 leaflet targets Japanese troops in the Philippines. The text on the front is:

Grass for my pillow
And what was in the dog’s howling?
Voices in the night.

There is a long propaganda message on the back that says in part:


How long ago was it that you left your beloved homes, with cheers ringing in your ears, and came far across the sea to this distant island in the South. Because it was war and you are courageous, you must have come tense with the desire to do your utmost for your country. Did things turn out as you thought they would?

Look! Since the American forces landed on Leyte, in every battle the Japanese forces have been destroyed or beaten back. Now you infantry soldiers have been abandoned by your navy and air force. Your present condition is such that you must suffer even from shortage of food.

Look! Manila is lost! Iwo Jima has fallen! Okinawa has been invaded! Tokyo and other Japanese cities which are producing the war materials are being reduced to ashes by our constant bombings! Even the Japanese fleet, hidden as it was in the Inland Sea of Seto, has been attacked and badly damaged by American carrier-borne bombers!

Soldiers: Do you think reinforcements will come? Don’t you think further supplies are out of the question? Think hard. Is going to a useless death true courage? If you die meaninglessly in a strange land, who will rebuild the future Japan when peace comes?

Why don’t you come over to the side of the Americans and wait for the war to end? Your comrades-in-arms who are already here have completely recovered their health and are enjoying community living under the protection of the Americans.

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Leaflet 119-J-1

This leaflet dated April 1945 is one of the better images from the PWB artists. It depicts a Japanese officer with his sword in a stark black silhouette on an orange background filled with the rank insignia of Japanese field officers and non-commissioned officers. The text on the front of this leaflet is:


The text on the back of the leaflet is:


The battle of the Philippines is drawing to a close. Iwo Jima has fallen. Okinawa has been invaded. Japan is being continuously bombed, and the tide of battle is drawing ever nearer to the homeland…

Under these circumstances it is obvious that you cannot receive reinforcement or supplies. You wounded cannot get enough medical care, and day and night your men are falling all about you. They are indeed in a pitiful condition.

After seeing these sad things, do you, carried away by a temporary hot-bloodedness, show true love for your men by forcing them to die a “dog’s death?” Is this the best plan?

Look at the example of Germany where because the officers gave their full consent, a million valuable lives were saved in order to build a new living nation after the war.

In the Russo-Japanese War many Japanese prisoners returned to the Homeland and became valuable citizens. Even Lieutenant Tatekawa, a former ambassador to Russia and the present head of the Japanese Yokusan Sonen Dan [Adult Support Group], was for a time a prisoner of the Russians during that war.

We urge that you officers, who are responsible for the fate of the men in your command, act with prudence and decision.

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Leaflet 123-J-1

Peace with Honor

500,000 copies of this leaflet were printed depicting the Goddess of Mercy and the text on the front:


The back is all text and says:

Below is an extract from the first official broadcast made to the people of Japan by Rear Admiral Zacharias, in which he clarifies the statement by the new U.S. President Truman. Rear Admiral Zacharias was formerly stationed in Tokyo. He is well acquainted with many Japanese, such as Admiral Yonai and Admiral Nomura. During the two-month tour of the United States by Prince and Princess Takamatsu in 1931, Rear Admiral Zacharias acted as their aide-de-camp.

The extract follows: I was chosen as a spokesman to interpret for you the true meaning of events now shaping up, because in 20 years of peace, in Japan as well as here in Washington, I have always acted as a friend of the Japanese people and have done everything in my power to prevent the catastrophe which has already begun to envelope your homeland.

The militarists who have brought this misfortune upon Japan say the only choice left the Japanese people is victory or extermination.

I am in a position to guarantee with authority that the desperate phrase “Victory or extermination” is a deliberate misrepresentation of fact. I can state categorically that Japan has no chance left of victory. But at the same time I deny most emphatically that your only alternative to victory is extermination.

I am specifically authorized to reiterate that unconditional surrender is a purely military term, meaning only the yielding of arms. It does not entail extermination of the Japanese people. These thoughts have been injected by your military leaders as an ignoble device to compel you to continue a hopeless war.

Your future lies in your own hands, you can choose between a useless death for many of your forces or peace with honor.

It is interesting to note that once the Allies decided on “Unconditional surrender,” which simply implied that there would be no bargaining over a terms of surrender, the phrase caused so many problems that a vast amount of time and energy had to be expended just to explain what the two words meant.

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Leaflet 140-J-1

The Americans constantly asked the Japanese not to kill themselves and to live on to rebuild their nation. There was one little exception to this rule and that was the senior officer corps. Both the OWI Navy leaflets and the PWB Army leaflets had no compunction about telling the officers that taking their lives was completely acceptable. This leaflet actually shows the hara kiri tradition setting. The privacy screen waits as does the knife to be used to disembowel oneself. Some of the text is:

When the tide turned against the Japanese forces on Okinawa and defeat became certain, the leaders there carried out the tradition of the Japanese warrior and took full responsibility, ending their lives.

What of the military leaders in Tokyo, who sent these brave men and thousands of other brave men to their deaths? Far from accepting responsibility for the crushing defeats Japan has suffered, they are now seeking to place the burden of defending the homeland on the shoulders of the people,

It is time that they admitted their failure as leaders and obeyed the code which they demand that their followers obey.

Leaflet 148-J-1

This leaflet is titled, "Desire for peace crushed." The front of the leaflet depicts a peaceful pre-war scene. The text is:

Back to Peace

The text on the back is:

The ordinary people of the world do not want war. In Japan, before the militarist’s attack on Pearl Harbor, many people were opposed to war.

The militarists did not allow any expression of public opinion. Those who believed America and Japan should remain friends were branded as traitors. Under the pretext of creating "national unity," all who favored peace were suppressed.

Now giant American bombers are bringing the militarist's war into Japan.

Patriot! Appeal to you leaders to cease their useless resistance while part of Japan can yet be saved!

Leaflet 3-J-11

Leaflet 3-J-11 is usually referred to as "General Patrick's Surrender Leaflet." It targeted every Japanese soldier cut off in the 6th Division Sector. The text was written by General Patrick, the Commander of the 6th Division. The illustration on the leaflet depicted extensive bombing, and the one alternative to death, an immediate surrender. Notice that the first two lines of this leaflet were considered arrogant and offensive, so they were scheduled to be changed. This explains why the U.S. preferred Americans or Nisei trained to write propaganda text to prepare the message on propaganda leaflets. The text is long so I will edit it for brevity:

Do you like this bombing? It is just a sample of what you are continually going to get from now on; that and a lot more.

It won't do you any good to move to other locations. Our bombers and our troops will follow you wherever you go. Don't be fools. Your case is hopeless. If your officers had your interests at heart, they would put an end to this meaningless bloodshed by arranging honorable terms of surrender. Instead, they will sacrifice every one of you and require that you die, not like men, but like animals. Will your officers die with you? The junior ones will, but gradually, as your suffering increases, you will discover that your senior officers have disappeared. Such was the case in New Britain, New Guinea, the Admiralties, the Marianas, Guam, Saipan, and Iwo Jima. Officers of the higher grades escaped by airplanes and submarines and left their men to wander hopelessly in the jungles - You are told that you will be killed or mistreated if you surrender. This is a lie. The American Army treats prisoners with respect - Americans are kind-hearted people - the same people who rushed to the aid of the stricken people of Tokyo with food, clothing, and medical supplies after the great earthquake of 1923.

Think carefully on this matter. Talk it over with your most intimate friends. Let reason control your future acts. Come forward to the American lines. Hold your hands over your heads to signify that you do not bear arms. Display this leaflet and your safety is insured.

Theme: Rally to save what is left of their country.

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Leaflet 113-J-1

Leaflet 113-J-1 depicts a riveter working on a building, with other new buildings and Mount Fuji in the background. It tells of the need to live to rebuild Japan. The PWB printed 500,000 copies of this leaflet. Text on the front is:

Who will rebuild Japan?

The text on the back of the leaflet is:

War Reaches Japanese Heartland

Japan’s great cities are being heavily bombed from bases on the Pacific Islands and on Okinawa. The industrial districts of Tokyo, Nagoya, and Kobe are being devastated. Great areas in these once flourishing cities have been reduced to ashes,

It is sad that the exigencies of war mean that the US air raids will increase in fury with each day until the selfish militarists have been destroyed.

The Japanese militarists alone are responsible for Japan’s present misery. It is they and not the Japanese people at whom the attacks are directed. On the day when the militarists are crushed and peace returns under a modern government, will you not be needed for the great work of rebuilding Japan?

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Leaflet 2-F-3

I thought it would be good to place a leaflet to the Filipino people from the mysterious unit that used the code “3.” We do not know what unit this was, but they have a number of leaflets with the “F” for Filipinos and “J” for the Japanese. This one is a letter from a Dr. Compomanes to the Ganaps and Makapilas. We don’t know anything about the Doctor. The Ganap Party was a pro-Japanese Filipino political party and saw an alliance with Japan as the road to independence. The Makabayang Katipunan ng mga Pilipino (Patriotic Association of Filipinos), better known as the Makapili, was a militant group formed in the Philippines in 1944 during World War II to give military aid to the Imperial Japanese Army. The Japanese decreed that the group should be founded in November 1944 when they brought together many of the supporters of the defunct Ganap Party. After the war ended in 1945, the group was disbanded and vilified for its involvement in some Japanese atrocities in the islands and individual members faced trials for treason as a result.

This leaflet is in the form of an invitation to return to the fold and become a member of the new Philippines. The text is English on the front and Tagalog on the back.

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Leaflet 3-F-3

Leaflet 3-F-3 is similar in that it is all-text with English on the front and Tagalog on the back. Some of the text of that longer 6-paragraph leaflet is:


These are the facts:

The Japanese have been decisively beaten in the battle of the Philippines. It is useless to assist a defeated enemy.

Philippine independence was the only thing for which you fought, you yourselves have said. This is no longer a matter of controversy. Philippine independence has been guaranteed by an act of Congress of the United States.

Freedom for the Philippines under the Japanese was a lie…The Japanese betrayed you again when they promised the Americans would never return…

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Leaflet 32-J-6

Mt. Kaguyama

Fuji was not the only mountain used as a theme in propaganda leaflets. I have seen two that mentioned Mt. Kaguyama. Leaflet 32-J-6 was produced by the Sixth Army and shows a thin line drawing of Mt. Kaguyama in black ink on the front. The mountain is often called "Heavenly Kaguyama" in Japanese writing and in mythology fell directly from Heaven. The leaflet is entitled “Nostalgic poems.” The text is:

From birth to death, each New Year brings us one step nearer the grave

The herbs sent to me are at my side, reminding me of home and the snow on KAGUYAMA.

There is a second version of this same leaflet with the only difference being the text. The text on the front is:

The New Year’s Gate Decorations are but a milestone on our road to Hades

The text on the back is:

Yearning for the native land

Forget-me-not stuck on my sleeve

Reminding me not to forget my dear old

Homeland near the Kaga Mountain

Professor Earhart says:

Kaguyama, (Mount Kagu) is a mountain near Nara, the ancient capital of Japan, and is linked to the (legendary) Emperor Jimmu (or Jinmu).

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Leaflet 35-J-6

This 17 February 1945 Sixth Army leaflet to the Japanese depicts a soldier looking at a grave-site with Mt. Fuji and a torii in the background. Fuji implies that the soldier has returned home after the war. The text on the front is:

Two Roads of Thought

The back is all text:

Officers and men of the Japanese Imperial Forces:

After this conflict is over, wouldn’t it be better to return to your beloved homes which you are always thinking of in your dreams day and night, than death far away from your parents, wife, and children who are waiting for your return.

Display a white object, come over to our lines, and you will be given food, clothing, and medical care as specified by the Geneva Convention.

Note: A torii is a traditional Japanese gate most commonly found at the entrance of, or within a Shinto shrine, where it symbolically marks the transition from the mundane to sacred.

Theme: Destroy the military clique and form a peace government.

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Leaflet 129-J-1

This leaflet depicts the famous Japanese scholar Ninomiya Sontoku. (1787-1856), the “Peasant Sage of Japan.” It is not uncommon to see statues of Ninomiya in front of Japanese schools. Typically these statues show him as a boy reading a book while walking and carrying firewood on his back. It was said that Ninomiya was reading and studying every moment he could. Ninomiya combined the traditional teachings of Buddhism, Shintoism and Confucianism and transformed them into practical ethical principles. He saw agriculture as the highest form of humanity. Ninomiya was also a moral leader who believed in the value of hard work and the dignity of manual labor.

The theme of the PWB leaflet is: “Continuation of the war will destroy Japan.” The leaflet is entitled Words vs. Deeds. One such leaflet was found on Northern Luzon on 30 June 1945. The leaflet says in part:

The good government considers what it can give to the people.The bad government considers what it can take away. How does this compare with the actions of the militarists?

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The Japanese 1 Yen note of 1946

After the end of WWII, the United States occupying forces asked that all military individuals and symbols be removed from Japanese banknotes. They recommended to the Japanese Government that a portrait of the Democratic scholar Ninomiya Sontoku would be a suitable choice for a banknote portrait. The image of Ninomiya was placed on the 1 yen note of 19 March 1946.

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Leaflet 134-J-1

The official title of U.S. Army Psychological Warfare Branch Leaflet is "Japanese Navy and Air Force Powerless." The target is the Japanese homeland. The leaflet depicts a Japanese city with the shadow of a U.S. B-29 upon it. One wing of the aircraft is visible in the upper left-hand corner. The text on the back is:

Boasting that their defense was an iron wall, the militarists asserted that the Japanese Navy and Air Force would annihilate all who attacked the homeland.

Today, those militarists stand powerless while the U.S. Navy and Air Force attack Japan at will and with increasing fury.

It is clear that the Japanese Navy and Air Force cannot defend the homeland. It is also clear that the militarists, whose so-called defense was merely an empty word, are not worthy to be leaders.

The full force of the American attack has not yet been felt. When it comes, the destruction will be pitiless and complete.

The militarists cannot save Japan by their boasts, but the people can save their country by unconditional surrender.

Officers and men of the Japanese Imperial Forces:

After this conflict is over, wouldn’t it be better to return to your beloved homes which you are always thinking of in your dreams day and night, than death far away from your parents, wife, and children who are waiting for your return.

Display a white object, come over to our lines, and you will be given food, clothing, and medical care as specified by the Geneva Convention.

Some Japanese prisoners stated that the term “Unconditional Surrender” was very confusing to Japanese soldiers and the Americans should make every effort to clarify to the Japanese that their race was not about to be exterminated. A captured Japanese news correspondent also stated the importance of explaining to the Japanese people America’s intentions in regard to their country. 

Theme: Charge the military clique with the responsibility of the war:

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Leaflet 139-J-1

This leaflet states that the Military clique started the war and now want the civilians to finish it. The official title of the leaflet is “A Candle in the Wind,” a Japanese saying that implies an extremely difficult situation. A Japanese family is digging a foxhole to protect themselves from an approaching storm. Paulownia leaves (an ill omen) are seen swirling about. I talk more about these evil omens in my article Falling Leaves leaflets. Some of the text is:

No longer able to conceal their successive defeats, the military is attempting to put the responsibility for defense on the shoulders of the people by ordering them to fortify their homes. The call upon the people to do what the Army, Navy and Air Force are unable to do. How can civilians perform a task that was too great for the trained fighting forces?

When the general attack on the homeland begins, there won’t even be a chance to fight against its overwhelming might. The destruction will be terrible and complete. The people cannot save Japan by sacrificing their cities, their homes and their lives. The only hope for Japan’s future lies in unconditional surrender, enabling the people to return to their peacetime pursuits.

Theme: Their country is divided. Disunity exists among the army, navy and air forces; between the civil and military population; and between officers and enlisted men.

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Leaflet 19-J-1

This “divide and conquer” leaflet attempts to drive a wedge between the officer and enlisted Corps. It depicts General Yamashita withdrawing from a battlefield left in ruins. One curious fact about this leaflet is that there is a subtle implication that the general has failed and has no recourse except to commit Hari Kiri. I should point out that many American leaflets told the Japanese enlisted troops that they should not commit suicide because they were needed to rebuild Japan. And yet, several leaflets encourage the Japanese officers to commit suicide and I don’t think I have seen one that tells the officers they must live for the future of Japan. The title is:

One General Gains Fame while Tens of Thousands Die

The text on the back is:

When the Americans landed in the Philippines, you soldiers fought bravely. Despite this, in less than two months, the fighting turned against you and the battlefield is now moving steadily to the north.

To check our determine advance the Tokyo militarists entrusted the task to the famous Japanese general Yamashita. He has failed, futilely sacrificing tens of thousands of your comrades. Had he any real sympathy for his soldiers instead of being callous and indifferent to their fate, he would not have used a strategy which only piled up a mound of human sacrifices

It is as in the old saying, "One General gains fame while tens of thousands die." In the face of such selfish ambition; your lives are of no concern to him whatsoever. This is why he could adopt a wild and unsound military plan; why he refused to accept responsibility of his own failure or the obligation of the warrior's code.

Soldier, must you, like your comrades in the Solomons and New Guinea die a dog’s lonely death in a distant land just because of such incompetence and irresponsibility?

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Leaflet 20-J-1

Curiously, and perhaps not coincidentally, the very next leaflet, 20-J-1 was an all-text piece entitled “General Nogi.” This leaflet seeks to divide the Japanese soldiers from their commander and implies that if General Yamashita was honorable he would commit Hari Kiri. In this leaflet, the PWB tells of how after being accused of losing too many men in his great victory at Port Arthur against the Russians, he offered to commit suicide. This honorable action is compared with General Yamashita’s demand for Gyokusai (glorious death) by his troops. The Japanese would do “banzai” attacks where they would charge with guns, crutches, rocks or whatever they could carry. The Americans mowed them down. Those that were immobile or out of ammunition would often hold grenades against their bodies and pull the pin. The leaflet concludes:

General Yamashita took no blame for the glaring blunder committed on Leyte Island. This blunder caused useless death to more than 100,000 men. He sought to shift the blame onto others.

To cover his failures he forced his officers and men to needless sacrifices in the name of glorious death. He remained quite undisturbed as he looked on these vast numbers of sacrifices.

It would seem that the difference between the splendid spirit of General Nogi and the base attitude of the military leaders today, represented by Yamashita, is like the difference between clouds and mud.

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Leaflet 106-J-1

This leaflet is rather plain with just a colorful view of Japan off to the side on the front. My files show that this leaflet was produced in Manila from April to August 1945. It seeks to divide the Japanese enlisted men and officers by telling the common soldiers that they have fought honorably, but their officers have dishonored and embarrassed them by giving orders to murder innocent women and children. Since many of the Japanese soldiers seemed to enjoy killing civilians with swords and bayonets I am not sure how effective this leaflet would be. The text is:


You soldiers engaged in the Philippine campaign know that among the officers of the Japanese Army there were some that gave orders to kill innocent women and children. We feel sure that this does not reflect the spirit of the fighting men of Japan.

War is for fighting men, and we feel sure that you felt disappointed and ashamed of Japanese officers who gave orders to kill non-combatants, innocent women and children. These officers, while they were being thoroughly defeated in battle, placed you in your present wretched and miserable position, were in a cowardly fashion killing innocent civilians.

They dare do such things as these, while at the same time telling those under them to be God-like soldiers. How long can you continue to serve under leaders who order things so dishonorable and so contrary to the code of Bushido? How can you have respect for officers who did not hesitate to order such barbaric acts committed against innocent civilians and weak and helpless women and children?

Soldiers! Please think this over! How would you feel if your own parents, wife or children were cruelly treated and killed in the way Japanese forces did these things in Manila?

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Leaflet 146-J-1

This leaflet depicts the clothes of a militarist on one side and those of a worker on the other. It seeks to divide and conquer. Some of the text is:

Since the militarists have assumed control, conditions within Japan have steadily deteriorated. The war has brought wealth and position to a few, but to the people who are the backbone of the nation it has brought higher taxes, compulsory savings, and fewer and fewer of life’s necessities…

Theme: Their land and air forces are inadequate.

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Leaflet 21-J-1

This leaflet depicts an American invasion force in the Lingayen Gulf. The title is:

Where is the Japanese Fleet?

American Invasion Convoy in the Lingayen Gulf

The question is reminiscent of the Allied propaganda in Europe that regularly asked “Where is the Luftwaffe,” in an attempt to embarrass the German pilots and make them come up and fight. America believed that there was a cleavage between the Japanese Army and Navy. This leaflet aimed at widening that cleavage by pointing out that the Japanese Navy was ineffective.

Some of the text on the back is:

Four days before the American forces carried out their landing on Luzon, the Japanese already knew of the enormous convoy steaming northward. But the Japanese fleet made hardly any attacks on it, and the Americans landed easily in Lingayen Gulf.

This shows that you can no longer trust the Japanese fleet. Your supply routes have been blocked: there is no road open for reinforcements, and as a result you have to fight at an extreme disadvantage.

At a time when you are confronted with such unparalleled danger, Tokyo radio has broadcast the names of more than 80 admirals who have died since the start of the Great East Asia War. What do you think might be the significance of this?

Appendix A of the 12 April 1945 Implementation of the Basic Military Plan for Psychological Warfare Against Japan aggress with the text of this leaflet:

The enemy was not prepared to defend the Philippines. His super-egotism, his inability to face reality, his tendency to lie and exaggerate have given him a false sense of security. He depended upon the fleet, air, and ground forces in the Pacific to prevent our invasion of the Philippines. When we landed in Leyte, knowing Luzon was defenseless, the enemy frantically endeavored to win a Leyte decision. His supreme effort resulted in colossal disaster. Moreover, he had robbed Luzon of troops. For three years he had rested in the lush of Manila. The very weaknesses which the Japanese attributed to the white man anesthetized their own high command in Manila. Suddenly the enemy was forced to make hasty preparations on Luzon itself. His only plan was to kill civilians, destroy property and seek safety in Luzon's mountain fastness. There he boasted that at the proper time he would attack from all directions and annihilate our forces.

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The Official U.S. Navy Photo used in the above Leaflet

Notice the three Consolidated PBYs (Patrol Bomber and “Y” was the code for the maker, Consolidated) Catalina, is an American flying boat, and later an amphibious aircraft and one of the most widely used seaplanes of World War II. Catalinas served with every branch of the United States Armed Forces and in the air forces and navies of many other nations. During World War II, PBYs were used in anti-submarine warfare, patrol bombing, convoy escort, search and rescue missions, and cargo transport.

There is reason to believe that this ridicule of the Japanese Navy worked. According to Report on Psychological Warfare in the Southwest Pacific Area 1944-1945, American admirals believed that the Japanese Navy could be needled into coming out to fight. As a result, messages and leaflets said that the Japanese Navy would abandon its troops in the Philippines just as they had those isolated troops on the southern islands. After the campaign of ridicule they attacked Leyte Gulf on 24 October 1944. It was a disastrous defeat. U.S. Army Colonel Sidney F. Mashbir, who led the Allied Translator and Interpreter Section of Southwest Pacific Area, congratulated the PWB on its needling of the Japanese and said:

No one will ever under-estimate the part which the campaign of ridicule, so ably carried out by the Psychological Warfare Branch, played in bringing out the Japanese Navy to be destroyed.

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Leaflet 151-J-1

To be honest, in almost every American leaflet there is a comment that points out the inadequacy of the Japanese military forces. This very pictorial large leaflet depicts B-24 Liberator bombers flying unopposed over Japan. Factories explode below as civilians rush to the mountain tops for safety. P-38 Lightning fighters can also be seen strafing railroads and factories. The leaflet is entitled “Earthquake from the sky,” The text is:

Earthquakes and tidal waves cannot be halted. The people realize they are powerless against these overwhelming forces of nature and accept the ruin which follows in their wake.

The military forces of Japan can no more halt the overwhelming destruction by the United States Air Force than the people can stop an earthquake.

With ever increasing fury this air force will sweep over Japan like a tidal wave. It will rock the land like an earthquake. With unbelievable striking power, it will bring widespread destruction greater than that caused by all the forces of nature.

The boasting Japanese militarists know they are powerless to stop this terrific devastation. Having thus failed, they now call on helpless old men, women, and children to defend their own homes. They are now asking you to assume responsibility for home defense. But what weapons are the military giving you to defend your homes?

Complete destruction can be avoided only by the people’s overthrowing the militarists and asking for peace. An understanding with the United States means that the peace-loving people of Japan will be saved and will be free to build their country into a modern civilized nation.

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Leaflet 152-J-1

I hesitated to add this leaflet because it is all text and without an interesting image. However, it is an extremely important leaflet. In fact, it was placed inside the Report on Psychological Warfare in the Southwest Pacific Area 1944-1945 as an example of the PWB PSYOP tactics. This indicates how important the American staff considered it to be. It tells the Japanese the complete text of the Potsdam Conference where the United States, Great Britain and China agreed on the postwar treatment of Japan.

The Declaration was released to the press in Potsdam on the evening of 26 July 1945 and simultaneously transmitted to the Office of War Information in Washington. The OWI radio transmitters began broadcasting it in Japanese. The Japanese never mentioned this proclamation to their people. The ultimatum was heard by Japanese who listened to the OWI broadcasts, and leaflets describing it were dropped from American bombers. Although picking up leaflets and listening to foreign radio broadcasts had been banned by the government, the American propaganda efforts were successful in making the key points of the declaration known to most Japanese. The text is very long, 13 full paragraphs. Some of the leaflet message included:


The following proclamation by the United States, Great Britain, and China, was signed by the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Great Britain at Potsdam and was concurred in by the President of the National Government of China.

The President of the United States, the President of the National Government of the Republic of China, and the Prime Minister of Great Britain, representing the hundreds of millions of our countrymen, have conferred, and agreed that Japan shall be given an opportunity to end this war.

The prodigious land, sea and air forces of the United States, the Britain Empire, many times reinforced by their armies and fleet units from the west, are poised to strike the final blow on Japan. This military power is sustained and inspired by the determination of all the Allied nations to prosecute the war against Japan until she ceases to resist.

The result of the futile and senseless German resistance to the might to the aroused free peoples of the world stands forth in awful clarity as an example to the people of Japan. The might that now converges on Japan is immeasurably greater than that that which, when applied to the resisting Nazis, necessarily laid waste to the lands, the industry, and the method of life of the whole German people -¦ Japanese military forces, after being completely disarmed, shall be permitted to return to their homes with the opportunity to lead peaceful and productive lives…we do not intend that the Japanese shall be enslaved as a race or destroyed as a nation, but stern justice shall be meted out to all war criminals, including those who have visited cruelties upon our prisoners…We call upon the government of Japan to proclaim now the unconditional surrender of all Japanese armed forces, and to provide proper and adequate assurances of their good faith in such action. The alternative for Japan is prompt and utter destruction

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According to my records this is the very last leaflet produced in the J-1 series. It is all text and tells the Japanese troops that the war is over. My records say about this leaflet: “Special leaflet, request from 37th Division. It tells isolated troops of Japanese surrender." The text is:

Notification of Surrender from the War Department

Notice to Japanese soldiers on 2 September. Shigemitsu, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Umezu, the Minister of War, boarded the USS Missouri and signed the official surrender. The terms of surrender include the following:

Paragraph 1, Section 4: The office of the War Department, the main islands of Japan and her surrounding possessions up to the 38th parallel of Korea, and the Army, Navy, and Air Force troops in the Pacific area are to surrender to the American army. Furthermore, it has been decided that each individual soldier fighting in all different war zones is to surrender to the nearest American unit. Send men into the American territory at once and surrender with pride and orderly discipline.

Rather than be held hostage to these arbitrary themes, I will now discuss a number of leaflet types that I will call “Special projects.” Each of these leaflets served a purpose, though they might not fall into any preconceived themes.

Oversized Psychological Warfare Posters and Leaflets

Just as the PWB printed different leaflets, they also prepared numerous oversized leaflets and posters. Some were for the Japanese, some for the Filipinos, and many were for the American troops. Because of their size we will not depict many of these large products. However, some are particularly interesting.

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Oversized Leaflet 2-J-8

There were a number of large leaflets prepared to help the Japanese soldier surrender. Leaflet 2-J-8 is 10 x 14-inches and was printed on 3 January 1945. Most of these ask that the American and Filipino troops place these where a the Japanese might congregate to help them surrender. Japanese text on the back explains the surrender procedure. The leaflets were to be distributed by guerrillas and liaison aircraft. They were to be placed along trails and water points where the Japanese might pass or congregate. These leaflets targeted stragglers and remnants of the defeated Japanese Army. The text was in English and Cebuano. The Cebuano text in part is:


The bearer of this note is a Japanese soldier who wants to surrender. Watch out that no mishap may befall you. Treat him well and give him all the courtesies as a prisoner of war and bring him to the nearest detachment of Filipino or American forces.

This will help you clear your land of all Japanese soldiers left behind by the defeated Japanese force.

Put this notice to Japanese stragglers in places they move through – trails, wells, gardens, etc.

The Japanese text on the back says in part:


The battle of Leyte is finished. The result is well known even to the most ignorant. The valor and unprecedented sacrifices made by the members of the Imperial Japanese forces is equally well known. The few surviving Japanese soldiers have nothing to be ashamed of. Their future is in their own hands...Move down the rivers and streams to the sea. The back of this sheet tells the Filipinos and soldiers that you are to be treated as a man who has fought well. If you meet no people, you will eventually come to a road. Wait. Soldiers will be moving along the road, and you can signal them...

Similar large leaflets are 6-J-8, 12-J-8, 31-J-6 and 13-J-8. 2-J-8 is almost identical to 2-J-8 above, the only difference being that the Filipino language section below the English text is now in ILONGO dialect and is addressed TO ALL FILIPINOS IN PANAY AND NEGROS.  

We should probably point out that the Filipinos, who had suffered under the Japanese yoke, were not nearly as forgiving as the Americans. For years after the end of the war any Japanese tourist who happened to find himself alone on a back road in the Philippines might turn up missing. Accidents do happen.

Leaflet 12-J-8 looks very much like the large leaflet above and targets Japanese stragglers in Panay and Negros. It is in the Japanese language and ILONGO dialect.

We mention poster 31-J-6 in the paragraph above. It measures 9 x 14-inches and is all text on green paper. The language is Japanese and it targets any Japanese that have continued to resist the Allies. The text is:


The United States Army will occupy this area in the near future.

The Japanese High Command knows that Luzon is impossible to defend.

But, to save the face of these high officers you are condemned to fight and die in the mountains. You will never see you homeland again.

You have been warned. Cease Resistance now.

Commanding General
U.S. Forces

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Japanese Reactions to Propaganda Leaflets Poster

This poster coded 1-R-6 was printed by the PWB as an educational aid to American troops to convince them to bring back Japanese soldiers who surrendered alive. The poster is 10 x 14-inches. Many American soldiers who had seen the cruelty and brutality of the Japanese had no interest in keeping them healthy. This poster points out how important the information a POW brings can be.

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Information Poster

These large informative posters, measuring 18 x 24-inches were printed on a regular basis by the Information and Education Section of the Armed Forces Far East Command. This one is dated 19 March 1945. I added the poster because it discussed psychological warfare.

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Sixth Army Poster

Another poster seems to be a Japanese product because it is completely made up of Japanese propaganda leaflets, newspapers and cartoons. The title is “Asia for the Asiatics” In reality; this poster was produced by the Assistant Chief of Staff, Intelligence, of the U.S. Sixth Army. The printing was done by the 670 Engineer Topological Company in April 1945.

Notice that one of the propaganda products depicted in the poster, the leaflet, “American Gobs” is mentioned in our article on Japanese propaganda. This poster also contains propaganda about Japanese Catholics. American propagandists thought it was comical that the Japanese with a very small minority of persecuted Catholics would attempt to convince the Filipinos that they had the same religious beliefs.

The Sixth Army apparently produced this poster to show its own people the kind of propaganda that the Japanese had produced during their occupation of the Philippines.

Leaflets Prepared by Subsidiary Units 

We mentioned above that the PWB placed small elements with numerous field units. I have selected two leaflets for this section that show how the elements used local support organizations to prepare leaflets.

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Leaflet 19J6

This leaflet was to be used against small Japanese units that were defeated and cut-off. It was not to be used anywhere else. The front calligraphy was done by a Sixth Army PWB member while the text was written by a Japanese prisoner of war. The leaflet was printed by the Reproduction Section of the 929 Engineer Aviation Regiment through the cooperation of one Lieutenant J. H. Evans. The text on the front is:

Think this Over Carefully!

I am a prisoner of the Americans and every day I receive warm treatment from them. With tears in my eyes I am grateful to them. 

I was astonished to see the new types of tanks, warships, planes and guns. I realized for the first time that we are losing the war to the Americans. At present, what hope is left for you? Be at ease and think of the future, the new Japan. 

Surrender immediately and let us await peace.

I want to show some leaflets from the Eighth Army now as can be seen by their code “8.” I have records of 12 such leaflets in my files.


Leaflet 3-F-8

This is a handsome black and white leaflet that depicts the flags of the United States of America and the Philippines on one side, and a short message titled "Filipinos" on the back.

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Leaflet 4-F-8

This may be my favorite PWB leaflet. I really like leaflets that depict other leaflets and this one depicts many of the leaflets that you will find in this article. They seem to be dropped over the Philippines by American P-38 fighters, sometimes called "Twin-tailed devils." These were the fighters that tracked and shot down Admiral Yamamoto, the man behind the infamous sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. The official fact sheet for this leaflet says, "To be contained in all bundles of Jap leaflets in proportion of 20 to 1 to aid in leaflet distribution." The back is all text in English and Tagalog and says:


These leaflets and newspaper written In Japanese are to let them know the growing peril and hopelessness of their situation. The Jap officers do not wish their men to believe the truths we tell them. It is best they should know. It will hasten the day they are cleared from your land. Assist by placing the papers and leaflets where they will be found and read by the Jap.

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Leaflet 1-J-10

The large all-text leaflet is interesting from many standpoints. It is one of the few leaflets coded “10” which indicates it was from the 10th Corps of the Sixth Army. One again it is for isolated Japanese units, but in this tactical leaflet they are named. It was written by a Japanese Sergeant Major from the 20th Regiment. The English text was then prepared by a Captain R. Beard who was the X Corps PWB liaison officer.   The calligraphy was supervised by X Corps and the printing was done by the 671 Topographic Platoon. Everybody got into the act! Some of the text is:

To the Men of the 9th, 20th and 33rd Regiments

I am now a prisoner of the Americans on Leyte Island and am receiving very good care. We are grateful to the Americans who we used to think devils…

Since we have been captured, we have received coffee, bread, meat, chocolate, expensive cigarettes, and they send our wounded to the hospital... 

Stop fighting uselessly and save your loved ones back home. Americans are not devils, so when you see their leaflets, come over to the Americans and receive their sincere care. Leyte Island will be the end of Japan within a matter of hours…

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Leaflet 3-J-10

This Official surrender leaflet “I Cease Resistance” is on the front of X Corps leaflet 3-J-10. The X Corps message is all text on the back. I will depict the colorful front of the leaflet and translate the back.


As you know, the war is progressing at a rapid pace. U.S. Forces have occupied three-fourths of Okinawa. Our air force from Saipan and Iwo Jima is constantly attacking war industries in the large cities of Japan. The Japanese Navy has lost even the large battleship Yamato. In Europe, the Allies are in Berlin, the capital of Germany.

The battle of the Philippines will come to an end with the completion of the mopping-up operations on Mindanao. You are already aware that the U.S. ground forces on Mindanao, with strong air support, are pressing upon your positions.

Japanese residents! You have been enjoying peace in a land far from home, but unfortunately you have been flung into the whirlpool of war caused by the Japanese militarists. When the Battle of the Philippines entered its final stage, the Japanese Army became flustered and inducted you civilians who were working on the production front. You have been put into a private’s uniform and are the victim of arrogance on the part of the local officials who have violated the Emperor’s ordinance that induction must be in the Emperor’s name.

Think this over! Why must you now fight for the militarists who have turned your peaceful life into chaos – the militarists who have endangered the Japanese homeland? Why must you die a meaningless death, knowing that the war is already lost? Why not follow the example of the Japanese residents of Saipan and Okinawa? Why throw away your lives? Put yourselves under the protection of the Americans until the war ends, so that you will be able to return to a life of peace.

When you have made your decision, come to either the American or Filipino side. In order to avoid mistakes, throw away your arms and approach the lines with this leaflet held high on a stick. You may use one leaflet for a small group. Americans are treating Japanese civilians on Saipan and Okinawa kindly. You may be sure of food, clothing, and medical care.

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Leaflet 7-J-11

Since we show two Tenth Corps leaflets above we should show one of the U.S. Army XI Corps leaflets. These are all text and I usually don’t depict them but it is important for the reader to see the various types of leaflets prepared by the PWB. This leaflet claims that there is a Japanese order to kill sick and wounded Japanese soldiers. The other side of this leaflet is the same “I Cease Resistance” that we show above in 3-J-10. This leaflet targets Japanese troops on Luzon:


The headquarters of the Japanese Army’s 58th Independent Mixed Brigade issued the following order to all lower units and field hospitals:

“In a situation where the company headquarters are in danger of being penetrated by the enemy, you will dispose of all sick and wounded soldiers.” [The Japanese troops would clearly understand that “Dispose of” meant “kill”].

Have you considered the fact that this order is your death sentence? If you continue to fight you will only die a useless death. Even if you don’t continue to fight, you are to be killed on the order of your direct superiors. When necessary, the U.S. Army fights with determination, but if its adversary is wounded or gives up a hopeless struggle, he receives protection.

Your situation on Luzon is hopeless. You have fought with great bravery. The U.S. Army praises your courage, but if you continue to resist, you fate will be death. If you want to cease resistance and come over to the side of the U.S. Army, strip to the waist, put this leaflet or something white on a stick, and come to an American unit. The U.S. Army will positively not hurt you or humiliate you.




Leaflet 5-J-21

As long as we are depicting the more rare leaflets I will mention the only J-21 leaflet that I have actually seen. This leaflet is in Japanese, English and Tagalog. The title is “No Escape Route” and it targets the Japanese troops in the vicinity of Manila. It was requested by the 11th Airborne. The front is a map showing the Japanese that there is no escape. The text in Japanese and Tagalog is:

You know escape is cut off

The back is a seven panel-panel cartoon titled: The Wise Soldier.

An American officer tells Filipino Guerrillas to treat Japanese who have ceased resistance kindly.
A Japanese soldier goes in daylight to a nearby village.
A guerrilla guides the Japanese soldier to an American position.
The soldier is given food, clean clothes and sanitary quarters.
The wounded or sick soldier receives medical care.
The soldiers read or do work that they enjoy.
The war is over and the soldiers return to the new Japan where their wives and children are waiting.

The 11th Airborne Division was a United States Army airborne formation, first activated on 25 February 1943. Consisting of one parachute and two glider infantry regiments, with supporting troops, the division underwent rigorous training throughout 1943. The 11th Airborne saw its first action on the island of Leyte in the Philippines, but in a traditional infantry role. In January 1945 the division took part in the invasion of Luzon. The two glider infantry regiments again operated as conventional infantry, securing a beachhead before fighting their way inland. The parachute infantry regiment was held in reserve for several days before conducting the division's first airborne operation, a combat drop on the Tagaytay Ridge. Reunited, the division participated in the Liberation of Manila, and two companies of divisional paratroopers conducted an audacious raid on the Los Banos internment camp, liberating two thousand civilians.

The Cult of MacArthur

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General MacArthur returns to the Philippines

Before I start this section I must admit that as a youngster, General MacArthur was a personal hero of mine. I saw him win in the Pacific, take the Japanese surrender and later plan the Inchon landing in Korea when all the strategists said it was impossible. He probably saved the peninsula with that landing. When President Truman fired him I was shocked, and was able to see the General on his “goodbye” tour when he rode in an open car through New York City. But, having said all that, I know that he was a tough man to admire. I had relatives in the Army that remembered him from the Philippines and called him “Dugout Doug.” His ego was infamous, and he once called five-star General Eisenhower “The best clerk I ever had.”

Much of the complaints about his reconquest of the Philippines was all the products, cigarettes, matchbooks, etc., that bore his words “I shall return.” He was begged to change it to “We Shall return,” but refused.

In the latter months of the war the Office of War Information’s Intelligence and Leaflet Unit, Area III, produced a Leaflet News Letter. In this clipping it mentions the MacArthur PSYOP. The American newspapers were fascinated by General MacArthur. The following article was the lead story in the New York Herald-Tribune's Sunday magazine section, “This Week,” for May 27, 1945:

The watchers on shore, the tall, bearded American, and the squat guerrilla chieftain, heard the submarine before they saw it, a long drawn-out “whish” in the darkness that was almost a sigh; the sound of dripping water and a huge sea monster wallowing out of the deep. Then silence again. Finally the long awaited signal, a light blinking cautiously, three times and then three again. Close to shore. Incredibly close. The bearded man rose from his hiding place, sniffed the salt air. It carried sounds in-land, and the Jap's were less than three miles away. But it drove from his nostrils the sick stench of rotting corpses in the village where the Japs had been before him.

He moved toward the shore, greeted a brisk young Ensign who had stepped out of a rubber boat. “What did you bring us?” “Tommy guns and ammo,” the Ensign answered. “We have K-rations; radios; also chewing gum, cigarettes, matches, and lead pencils.” “Good Lord” exclaimed the bearded man. “Do they think I am opening up a cigar store?”

“It's psychological warfare, sir.” The Ensign held up a package of chewing gum, turned on a tiny flashlight so the bearded man could see the printed cover. Three words; MacArthur's stirring slogan: “I Shall Return."

William B. Breuer mentions some of this campaign in MacArthur’s Undercover War, John Wiley and Sons, New York, 1995:

Various items known to be scarce in the Philippines, such as cigarettes, matches, chewing gum, candy bars, sewing kits and pencils were sent to the islands in submarines by the millions for widespread distribution. Each package bore on one side the crossed American and Philippine flags and on the other the quotation “I shall return!” printed over a facsimile of General MacArthur’s signature. Never mind that few Filipinos spoke English – each man, woman and child knew the phrase “I shall return!”

Around Manila and elsewhere in the islands, “I shall return!” was crudely painted on walls as well as on the sides of buildings. On occasion, dawn breaking over Manila would find a large billboard with “I shall return!” leaping out at a passerby. These defiant words were even found on stickers pasted on the back of Japanese military buses and trains, at the entrances to theaters, at railway station, and even outside brothels.

When MacArthur returned to the Philippines the PWB printed a number of leaflets showing him and telling the Filipinos that their liberator was back on sacred soil. Most of these leaflets are not numbered so we place them here at the end of the article.

Colonel Courtney A. Whitney, a MacArthur confidant, was apparently responsible for the decision to create, in SWPA propaganda, a cult around MacArthur and his pledge to return, a campaign which, however effective in some quarters, led some guerrillas to adopt the derisive motto:

We Remained!

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MacArthur has Returned

As I mentioned above, notice that it is MacArthur that has returned and not thousands of American soldiers and sailors. Still, the General apparently believed that the Filipinos reacted to his own charisma and personality and perhaps he was correct. The two page bi-fold above shows MacArthur saluting on the front and debarking from an aircraft on the back. There are three black and white pictures of him inside the booklet. The leaflet bears no code but my files show that it was 2-F-1. It appears that all the “F” leaflets were to the Filipinos after the American landing. The front of the leaflet depicts General MacArthur saluting. The back of the leaflet depicts the general stepping off an aircraft with the text:

General MacArthur steps out of a plane at an advance airbase somewhere in New Guinea

When the bi-fold is opened there are three black and white photographs inside the leaflet with MacArthur on a warship, walking down a Philippine road, and in a landing craft. The text is:

General MacArthur keeps his pledge.

When General MacArthur left Corregidor, under orders from President Roosevelt to proceed to Australia and organize the offensive against Japan, his last words were “I shall return.”

From that moment his one driving ambition has been to get back to the Philippines, to drive out the Japanese, and to restore the legitimate government of the Philippines.

Today General MacArthur is back in the Philippines. He has returned as he promised. His great task is now entering its final phase. The forces under his command are assaulting the Japanese invaders throughout the Philippines. With these forces, General MacArthur will accomplish the liberation of the Filipino people.

But that liberation can be accomplished more quickly, and at smaller cost to American and Filipino lives, with your help and co-operation. General MacArthur will tell you over the radio, in proclamation, and by leaflet, exactly how and when you can help. Watch closely for these instructions.

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MacArthur Returns!

This leaflet depicts MacArthur walking ashore on the Philippines. According to my files this leaflet was uncoded. Some of the text is:

Home again! General MacArthur and President Osmena stride up the beach of Leyte Island to set up the Philippine government on Philippine soil once again. They came ashore shortly after the first wave and are accompanied by Lt. General Sutherland and Brig. General Carlos Romulo.

The back has two photographs; one of the American flag being raised and the other of a landing craft (LST) approaching the Philippines. The text is:

The American flag flies on Leyte, bringing with it liberty to the people of the Philippines.

The first wave of American soldiers landing on Leyte to keep General MacArthur’s pledge: “I shall return!”

Florante Villarica told me about his introduction to this "MacArthur returns!" leaflet:

After the Leyte Landing, this iconic photo was printed onto leaflets dropped by planes on areas still occupied by the Japanese. This was also accompanied by another leaflet showing a caricature of a Japanese soldier with hands raised up in surrender. Sometimes they also dropped food packages and chocolates with a victory label together with the leaflets.

I am 85 years old now and have experienced first-hand the liberation of our island province of Mindoro when I was eight. I have seen the leaflets myself and the chocolate and food packs. In fact, we (our eldest cousin, my brother, and two sisters) were held at a Japanese sentry when they saw a leaflet that we picked and put our "bayong" (native bag) with our "baon" of fish and rice. We were on our way to town in a "kariton," a carabao drawn cart and had to pass through the road in front of the Japanese garrison (the old High school building). Our cousin and my brother who was 15 was ordered to the roadside under the hot sun as punishment while us children stayed and waited in our kariton before they let us go.

MacArthur's Landing
Anastacio Caedo at the MacArthur Landing Memorial National Park on Leyte Gulf

It may be unfair to point this out and I could be wrong, but it seems that MacArthur tried to produce an even number of leaflets and proclamations for both himself and President Osmena so that it would appear that they were equal in authority. Yet, I notice that the MacArthur leaflets are larger and in full color and generally more impressive that the Osmena material. I think anyone finding a group of such items on the ground would get the impression that MacArthur was the more powerful of the two and certainly in charge.

Major General Charles A. Willoughby talks about this scene in his biography of MacArthur:

Close behind the troops, in a drenching tropical downpour, MacArthur strode ashore on a muddy beach near the town of Palo. Following him from a LST came little Colonel Carlos Romulo, the Filipino patriot who had been the Voice of Freedom on Corregidor and the last escapee from Bataan. Recalling the day at a later date, Romulo said jocularly:

“The newspaper reported that I was right behind him. Little did they realize that I nearly drowned. There was this tall MacArthur, with the water reaching up to his knees, and behind him was little Romulo, trying to keep his head above water.”

MacArthur immediately spoke to millions of waiting Filipinos on a portable radio transmitter. He said in part:

This is the Voice of Freedom, General MacArthur speaking. I have returned…By the Grace of Almighty God our forces stand again on Philippine soil…

Rally to me. Let the indomitable spirit of Bataan and Corregidor lead on. As the lines of battle roll on to bring you within the zone of operations, rise up and strike! For future generations of your sons and daughters, strike! Let no heart be faint. Let every arm be steeled. The guidance of Divine God points the way. Follow in his name to the Holy Grail of righteous victory!

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I Shall Return

This is a small leaflet that depicts General MacArthur saluting on the front. It bears his autograph as well as his photograph. The back depicts the flags of the Philippines and the United States in full color side-by-side. Like many of the MacArthur leaflets to the Filipinos, this leaflet bears no code.


Morale Building Sewing Kit

On occasion this leaflet was airdropped over the Philippine Islands accompanied by a small sewing kit in a plain brown envelope.

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Free Philippines Magazine – 1 January 1945.

This issue of Free Philippines printed by the PWB depicts General MacArthur’s return to the Philippine Islands. It features his “I have returned” slogan.

One of the articles inside refers to “The Voice of Freedom,” a radio station that broadcast the liberation of the Philippines on the day that allied troops landed on Leyte. The “Voice of Freedom” had broadcast from Corregidor early in the war during four months of siege. It was finally quieted on the day the Americans surrendered. During the war, the Americans broadcast “The Philippine Hour” from San Francisco and later Australia each evening. The magazine says:

The Voice of Freedom, originally broadcast from Corregidor by General Romulo, was revived on D-Day under instruction from General MacArthur, who himself initiated the first broadcast from Red Beach, above Palo, at H plus 4 over a shortwave transmitter set up by the Signal Corps. He was followed by President Osmena and General Romulo.

The first words to go out over the air the following evening on regular broadcast were: “This is the Voice of Freedom coming to you from General MacArthur’s headquarters on the island of Leyte, in the Central Philippines.”

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The diary of Filipino General Basilio J. Valdes, says of MacArthur’s return on 23 October 1944:

He disembarked and went ashore to Tacloban. In front of the Capitol of the province, General MacArthur read the proclamation declaring null and void all laws promulgated by the Japanese and the puppet republic, and replacing those of the Commonwealth. His proclamation was followed by a speech by President Osmena.

President Osmena

Sergio Osmeña (September 9, 1878 – October 19, 1961) was the second President of the Commonwealth of the Philippines. He was Vice President under Manuel Quezon, and rose to the presidency upon Quezon's death on 1 August 1944. There were some problems with the Quezon presidency. He was elected for two legal terms but considered that due to the fact that the Japanese had invaded his homeland, his time in exile should not count. He wished to remain in power for a third term until such time as he could return victoriously to the Philippines with the American forces. Osmena believed in the Philippine Constitution and wanted Quezon to step down as per the law. The problem was solved with the death of President Quezon.

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This Japanese leaflet appears to have been disseminated shortly after President Quezon’s death. At the left Manual Quezon is depicted in a coffin. At the right, U.S. President Roosevelt pulls the string of puppets representing Sergio Osmena being forced forward by General MacArthur and Admiral Nimitz. The Japanese text is:


Osmena had fled the Philippines with MacArthur as Vice President and was by his side when he returned, now as President. A number of leaflets were printed with messages or proclamations by the new President.

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A Message to Every Filipino

This leaflet bears a Philippine seal on the front and a picture of the president on the back. This leaflet bears no code but my files show that it was 3F1. Some of the text is:

President Osmena, elected to high office by the Filipino people at the last popular elections held in this country, has returned to the Philippines with General MacArthur. He and the members of his government, with the complete support and backing of the American government, come to assist in the restoration of your freedom.

There is a photograph of President Osmena on the back in front of a CBS microphone addressing the Philippine people. The title is:

The Need for Unity

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A Government of Law by President Osmena

Another leaflet that featured President Osmena was a small all-text item entitled “A Government of Law by President Osmena.” Osmena made the speech on 23 November 1944. This leaflet was dropped about a month after Osmena returned to the Philippines (An unverified note in my files says it was dropped 14 January 1945) and mentions his meetings with patriotic Guerilla leaders. This leaflet bears the code 7-F-1. The flier praises the efforts of the guerrilla fighters on the Philippine Islands and the Filipino citizens. It warns against the Filipino citizens retaliating against those that were disloyal to Americans or the Filipino government, prior to the return of General Douglas MacArthur and President Osmena. It emphasizes the importance of justice and due process. My files show that there was another leaflet named “President Osmena’s speech” that was given the code 1(g)F1.

The Leaflet News Letter of April 6, 1945 reports:

A favorable reaction to the “Government of Law” leaflet is reported. Jose Banez, Guerrilla editor of the Panay Today says that, in response to it:

The guerrillas, who had executed more than a thousand spies, informers, and puppets during the Japanese occupation, ceased all executions and jailed several hundred newly arrested collaborators for hearings before a Provincial Board of Inquiry.

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The Meaning of the Commonwealth

A third leaflet was entitled “A Government of Law” on one side, and “The Meaning of the Commonwealth on the other.” A fourth variety was entitled “The Meaning of Commonwealth” on both sides. This leaflet reprinted the contents of a speech President Osmena gave in Leyte on 15 November 1944. The leaflet is a transcription of a speech given by President Osmena in Leyte. In the speech President Osmena reflects on the terms of the Philippine Commonwealth and the Filipino independence that was to be effective July 4th, 1946. President Osmena described the Filipino and American commonwealth as an example for the rest of the world. Although the leaflet bears no code my files show that it was coded 8F6.

My Beloved People

In this leaflet coded 15F6 (“F” for Filipino and “6” for 6th Army U.S. Army), President Osmena tells the Philippine people that MacArthur is pushing onward and is about to enter Manila. He calls for all patriots to come forward and help in the liberation of their country. He ends with:

God defend our cause! God strengthen our arms! God speed the day of our deliverance!

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Fellow Countrymen

This is another leaflet letter from President Osmena (in the field). This leaflet is uncoded and asks the Filipinos to help the American forces and each other.


Message to the People of the Philippines from President Osmena

The letter praises the Filipino people for their loyalty to freedom during the dark days of the war. He states that their loyalty has proven to the United States that they deserve their own sovereign nation. The date of their independence will come as soon as the war has ended, and the Japanese has been expelled. He is optimistic that this will come before the previous date of independence set by the Tydings-McDuffie Act. That act set the date for the Filipino independence as July 4th, 1946.

Banknote Propaganda

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Banknote Overprint 10F6

Brigadier General Bonner F. Fellers stated that some Japanese occupation banknotes were overprinted in Tacloban, Leyte, by the Sixth U. S. Army and dropped by 5th Air Force planes over Manila and Central Luzon. The banknotes are in different denominations and bear the Overprint:


The data sheet for these overprinted banknotes; 1, 5 and 10 pesos, is dated 7 December 1944. It states that they are to be disseminated widespread throughout populated areas of the Philippines. The purpose is to impress on the Filipino people that the Japanese occupation currency had no value and will soon be valueless and obsolete like the Japanese Empire. This overprint is the standard dark and dull red found in hundreds of WWII collections.

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A Pristine PWB Overprinted Banknote that has never been in the Sun,
perhaps they all looked this bright when first overprinted

I have seen several examples of the 10F6 overprinted Banknotes that were safely stored away inside PWB Scrapbooks since the 1940s. The overprint is actually much brighter red than normal since most of these seven-decade old leaflets were on the ground in the sun and rain and were handled and passed around by the finders and tends to be a darker and duller red. This banknote came directly from a PWB scrapbook. It never saw the sun or any light and that is why it is so bright. Before I discovered these PWB Scrapbook notes I would have thought that a banknote so bright was a fake produced by some huckster to take advantage of an unwary buyer. Now we have to think twice about any note that has a color that doesn’t seem quite right.

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The Warriors of FREEDOM have Landed

Other leaflets are very patriotic. One coded 7-F-6 depicts American troops storming the beaches and has the title on the front, “The Warriors of FREEDOM have Landed.” The back is all text and entitled, “Patriots of the Philippines.” I was amused to find that the Americans were worried that some Filipinos in Japanese-occupied areas might see this leaflet and revolt and be killed. As a result, it came with a warning, "For obvious security reasons, great care must be exercised to be sure that this leaflet is used only on A-Day, and only in areas where actual operations are taking place. The text is:

American and Philippine forces are liberating your country from Japanese oppression. Enemy air, land and sea forces have already suffered heavy reverses in the Leyte area.

As our landings continue, it is essential that the bombers and fleet prepare their way.

We do not want to injure a single Filipino. During the period from the 15th of December to the 8th of January follow these instructions carefully –

Stay away from the Japanese troops and any place where they are gathered together.

Avoid all buildings, dumps, airstrips and bridges used by the Japanese. And most important of all, at the first sign of our landing, move away from the beaches. Move inland as far as possible.

For your safety comply with this request.

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Leaflet 7-J-6

This leaflet once again warns the Filipinos to stay away from areas where they could be killed. The Japanese troops had routinely slapped and beaten the Filipinos; something that they apparently did not feel was degrading because they were regularly slapped and beaten by their own officers. As a result, the Filipinos hated the Japanese. It was a vendetta. The Americans, knowing the Filipino soul, went to great lengths to treat them with respect and try to keep them safe from harm.

The text on the front of the leaflet is:

The Warriors of Freedom have landed on your Island!

The text on the back is:

Filipino Patriots

American troops have landed in your area. They come to liberate you from the Japanese

STAY AWAY FROM MILITARY OBJECTIVES. wherever there are Jap soldiers or installations.

AVOID ROAD AND BRIDGES. They will be bombed and strafed.

Remember--We do not want to harm YOU, but bombs cannot tell friend from foe. So do not gather in large groups.

If the Japs compel you to remain in dangerous areas, build slit trenches for yourselves.

Do not wander around at night. Our patrols will shoot any moving figure.


If you find Allied soldiers who have been separated from their units hide them safely from the Japs, and notify the nearest American Headquarters.

If they are wounded give them as much medical care as you can.

FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS and help us drive the Japs from your island!

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7-J-6 Carried in a Veteran’s Wallet for five decades

This treasured tattered copy of 6th Army leaflet 7-J-6 was found in the estate of a Fortuna, California, veteran who had apparently folded it and placed it in his wallet and saved it for 51 years:

Recently my two brothers and I found a leaflet titled “Filipino Patriots” (7-J-6) in an old wooden box that belonged to our father. He was Private First Class Willard Iversen and was wounded in Luzon, Philippines, on 27 January 1945. He was a member of the 161st Infantry Brigade, 25th Infantry Division (Tropic Lightning) and carried a browning automatic rifle (BAR). Dad passed away on February 13, 1996 at age 71. This leaflet must have been in his wallet for a long time. It is folded many times and in fragile condition. He wrote on it "San Manuel, Luzon, Philippines."

Errors in the Leaflets

At some point many of these leaflets were restudied for errors. It was determined that the leaflets were full of spelling and grammatical errors. When you read the reports, it is embarrassing to see that in some leaflets there were two full pages of errors. I could have picked many different leaflets to show this, but in this case, I randomly chose 7-J-6. In one case the Japanese reads, "Japanese soldiers are eating each other." In another, where the Americans thought they said, "We offer you peace with honor," the Japanese text reads, "having pity on you we offer you peace." Speaking of the choice of words and Japanese characters the report adds, "there are errors in grammar, in choice of words, and in choice of characters used. It is impossible to list them all." The review ends with, "the choice of phraseology is quite offensive. From the point of view of psychological warfare such statements do incalculable harm." It also seems there are errors in the American understanding of Japanese customs and respect. A critique of leaflet 3-J-6 states, "we cannot begin to reproduce the tone of offensive familiarity that is in the actual Japanese text. The Japanese text treats the reader as both a mental and social inferior."

Leaflet 1-J-6

Looking at leaflet 1-J-6 (Germany Surrenders) the reviewer states, The Japanese on the back is definitely poor. It contains too many mistakes that are bound to excite derision. It is hardly a translation at all, but rather a loose approximation of the English text. In addition, its flowery, boastful tone is calculated to arouse resentment, and to harden, rather than weaken the enemy's determination.

Americans troops often laugh at the numerous grammatical errors in enemy leaflets targeting them, while they assume their own leaflets are excellently prepared. These reports indicate that U.S. spelling and grammatical errors were very much the same as the Japanese errors. Neither side seems to speak or write the enemy's language very well.

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Another such leaflet meant to protect the Filipinos and to help with the American movement toward the front is entitled “DON’T BLOCK THE ROADS!” It is interesting to note that when Germany attacked France with Stuka fighter-bombers, one of the “Terror” concepts was to drive French civilians on to the roads to block the French defensive movements. Here, the Americans have asked the Filipinos to stay off the roads so they can quickly advance. This leaflet is uncoded. On the front, American tanks have been stopped by a mass of people on the road. The back of the leaflet has the same general image, except the Filipinos are now walking to the right of the road and the tanks and trucks are advancing with the text:


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Leaflet 17-F-6

This 26 January 1945 Sixth Army leaflet for the Filipinos in Tagalog tells them how they can help the war effort and sabotage the Japanese. The leaflet is titled "Landing instructions” telling them how to avoid injury when the Americans land. I have seen this leaflet offered as “U.S. Army paratrooper,” and that is probably because the soldier seems to be wearing spit-shined Concoran jump boots. But, and this is a big but, as a sergeant I can tell you that no dedicated and motivated soldier would ever be caught with his hand in his pocket. A good sergeant would eat him alive for that. The leaflet was requested by the Intelligence Section of the U.S. Eighth Army in regard to their landing on the island of Luzon. It depicts a smiling American soldier on the front. The text on the back is:


You may help us with your liberation by:

Using roads only after military operations are complete.

Destroying bridges only when directed by American or Filipino forces.

Harassing small groups of individual Japanese, and if possible take them to friendly forces as captives.

Observing Japanese movements, numbers, positions and equipment so that you can report them accurately to American troops.

Giving aid, food, water, direction and information to small groups of soldiers like the one pictured on the opposite side of this sheet.

Your help will be needed to move food and supplies, and to improve your roads. Your municipal and barrio authorities will notify you, and you will be paid for your work.

The Government of the Commonwealth of the Philippines will return with the armed forces. Its laws will be in effect. Obey them.


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The Yanks have Landed On your Island

Leaflet 4-F-6 depicts American soldiers walking ashore. It was prepared on 23 September 1944 to be used on islands where the Americans land from D-Day to D plus 5. The back text is in English and warns the Filipinos to stay away from Japanese military objectives and ends with:

Remember: Planes, bombs and shells cannot tell a friend from a foe.

Leaflet 12-F-6

This leaflet to the Filipinos tells them to accept Japanese soldiers wanting to surrender because that means one less enemy to fight. It is in the form of a letter from Filipino Commander of Guerrillas Colonel Ruperto Kangleon. Readers should know that the U.S. Marines fought the Japanese with such fury that prisoners were seldom taken. Early in the war some Marines were killed by surrendering Japanese that hid weapons or explosives on their bodies. The Marine Officers used various bribes such as a case of beer or a day out of the battle line to get their troops to take prisoners. The Filipinos hated the occupying Japanese too. This leaflet reminds them that they are valuable prisoners. Some of the text is:

You can help hasten the end of the Leyte campaign by taking Japanese prisoners. Every Jap soldier who comes over to our side willingly is one soldier we will not have to kill.

On the other side of this leaflet is an appeal to Japanese troops to surrender to Filipino guerrillas. If the Japanese heed the appeal, and try to give themselves up, accept their surrender immediately. Be careful that they aren’t fooling you. But if they want to surrender allow them to do so and treat them well.

Patriotic symbols

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A Flag Leaflet

Perhaps to prepare the people for liberation and celebration, the PWB printed flag leaflets that depicted the Philippine flag on one side in full color and the 48-star flag of the United States on the other side. The leaflet bears no code but my files show it was 4F1.

Stanley Sandler says about the flag leaflets:

From San Jose to Tacloban, the roads were lined with Filipino citizens, many of them with our combination Filipino-American flag leaflets in their hands, many more with them tacked up in front of their houses.

Heed Your Country's Call

I should point out that there is also a Philippine flag leaflet with text on the with no code, but a message titled HEED YOUR COUNTY'S CALL.

President Harry Truman

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Leaflet 112-J-1

Some Navy OWI leaflets depicted or mentioned President Truman, (Examples are leaflet 2088: "A Message from the President of the United States to the People of Japan" and leaflet 2099 which quoted from a Truman speech on the subject of unconditional surrender). The PWB leaflets do not picture Truman at all as far as I can tell. As close as we come is this leaflet that quotes the president. Text on the front is:

The Defeat of the Military Leaders is the Victory of the People

The text on the back is:


U.S. President Truman on 8 May last issued the following statement:

The more the war is prolonged, the greater will be the suffering and hardship of the Japanese people. Moreover, this suffering is entirely in vain. Until the Japanese Army and Navy throw down their arms and surrender unconditionally, America will continue her fierce attacks.

What effect will the unconditional surrender of the military authorities have on the Japanese people?

It means the end of the war and the end of the power of the military leaders who have brought Japan to the brink of destruction. It also means the return of soldiers and sailors to their families, to their farm villages, and to their various occupations. More, it means not prolonging the pain, suffering and slave-like status of the Japanese people, who cling to the vain hope of winning this war.

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The leaflet above was depicted and translated in this single-sided sheet: prepared by the Acting Chief of Staff, G2 (Intelligence). It was probably made by the Sixth Army to commemorate what they did in the early days of the invasion. It has no code number, but was probably given out during command briefings and to troops who folded it and carried it as a souvenir of their unit. It depicts a map that shows all the places they airdropped leaflets. Some of the more pertinent comments are:

Propaganda leaflet drops during the period 16 May through 22 May: Total leaflets dropped on Luzon during this period – 1,011,375.

One of the few Japanese field grade officers, a Lieutenant Commander who was a medical officer for a naval air unit, stated that he had seen three types of U.S. propaganda leaflets…after wandering around the Zambales Mountains for four months he made up his mind to surrender…He presented his ideas to seven men who were with him…The group then held a vote and unanimously decided to surrender.

A prisoner of war who surrendered on 11 May in Tayabas Province stated that he had seen many U.S. propaganda leaflets. He carried several surrender leaflets so that should he meet U.S. troops he would be able to surrender himself.

A prisoner of war…Saw PWB leaflets but was not impressed at the time and threw them away. Later when alone he reconsidered the leaflets…The prisoner of war was left behind by his unit due to illness. Prisoner surrendered to U.S. forces.

The Emperor

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Leaflet 122-J-1

It was American policy not to vilify or insult the Japanese Emperor in any way since it was believed that would be counter-productive to the war effort. This PWB leaflet honors the Japanese Emperor’s birthday. Although it bears the “1,” it was requested by the Sixth Army for use against Japanese troops on Northern Luzon. The text on the front is:

Today is the Emperor’s Birthday

The text on the back is:

Today, 29 April 1945, is the birthday of His Majesty, the Emperor.

It is regrettable that you Japanese soldiers must greet this day of public festival defeated everywhere by overwhelming superiority of ground, air and naval forces, and that, faced with hopeless conditions, you must seek a useless death.

The military leaders who are responsible for this war are again unable to offer the Emperor a victory on his birthday. Rather, they are afraid of exposure of their own incompetence.

How much longer can these military leaders continue to deceive the Emperor?

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Rear Admiral Ellis M. Zacharias

On 29 June 1961, Retired Rear Admiral Ellis M. Zacharias, 71, deputy chief of Naval Intelligence in World War II died of heart complications. Zacharias conducted radio psychological warfare against the Japanese high command in World War II. He became famous among PSYOP experts for his broadcasts to the Japanese which eased the way for their eventual capitulation by defining “Unconditional surrender” to them. He knew the Japanese leaders, spoke impeccable Japanese, and regularly explained that submission did not imply the overturning of their Emperor, their national system or their traditional way of life.

The Soviet Union

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Leaflet 144-J-1

All through the war the Japanese and the Soviets warily watched each other. Both feared a sneak attack by the other. They were old enemies and had fought on more than one occasion. Because of Russian spies in Japan such as Victor Sorge, the Soviet Union was able to move some combat troops from their eastern defensive positions to help in the fight against Germany. Once it was clear that Japan was beaten, the USSR declared war on Japan and tried to grab some of the spoils. MacArthur quickly squelched that idea. In this leaflet, the PWB announces to the Japanese that they are now at war with the Soviet union too. On the front of the leaflet an American and a Soviet soldier shake hands. The text is:


The text on the back of the leaflet is:

Red Army Strikes

The powerful Soviet Union has now joined the war against Japan. This means that Japan will now be compelled to meet most of the combined might of the entire world…

The fate that befell the German Army when it set out to overwhelm Russia is well known. The Russians not only stopped the invasion of the greatest army ever created, but the Red counter-offensive swept the Nazi Army back to Berlin and total defeat.

Despite heavy casualties, the Red Army is now at the peak of its strength both in men and arms. With its great fighting spirit, this battle-tested army has joined the forces aligned against Japan.

Surrounded by a ring of steel, the Japanese people must take action to avoid the utter destruction of their country.

Will you continue to allow the militarists to drag your ancestral country to utter ruin?

There is an interesting story behind this leaflet. Report on Psychological Warfare in the Southwest Pacific Area 1944-1945 says:

Leaflets announcing the entry of the Soviet Union into the war were prepared four months in advance. Planners reasoned that if the Japanese Government were permitted to make the first announcement, there would be a fantastic claim of victory. If we announced it first, picturing the might of the Red Army, the psychological blow would stun the population. Seven million copies of the leaflet “Red Army Strikes” were dropped on Japan the day the Soviet Union declared war.

Because the leaflet was prepared in advance, a day after the Russians declared war on Japan American newspapers featured the leaflets for all to see. The photo caption was:

9 August 1945: PROPAGANDA LEAFLET DROPPED ON JAPS. “The Red Army Strikes” is the inscription in Japanese on the side of this leaflet dropped on the enemy homeland by U.S planes a few hours after Russia entered the war against Japan. The message in Japanese on the reverse side stresses that the Japanese people must take action to avoid utter destruction from the combined armed might of the Allies. (AP wire photo from Signal Corps radio-photo from Manila today).

Tactical Leaflets

Tactical leaflets are very interesting because in theory they are not part of some great strategic plan coordinated by governments, generals and local politicians. They are leaflets prepared on the ground and used against an enemy directly in front of friendly forces. A commander fighting a battle may request such a leaflet to be used on enemy troops a few hundred meters away in an attempt to encourage surrenders. They are produced quickly, “down and dirty” and usually in black and white for speed. We will depict a few tactical leaflets here that were clearly called in to help win a specific battle and have little connection to “the big picture.”

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Leaflet 13-J-6

The 1st Cavalry Division was locked in a bitter battle with the Japanese defenders of Ormoc. The PWB Liaison officer attached to the division requested this leaflet on 20 November 1944 to break the Japanese morale. The text is:

Ceaselessly Firing

The text on the back is:

No sleep. No peace. Day and night the ceaseless firing of the artillery haunts you. Like devils, the shells find you and kill you. All around you can see your comrades dying after each barrage.

This leaflet bears a printing error and a Japanese prisoner pointed out that: 

The third character from the top in the right hand row is wrong and makes the leaflet ineffective.

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Leaflet 39-J-6

The Americans took a terrible beating at Bataan early in the war and now the situation was reversed. The Japanese were holding out and putting up a strong defense so on 17 February 1945 a Major Anderson requested that this leaflet be prepared to convince them of the futility of further resistance. The text is:

Map Showing Position on Bataan

The name Bataan is significant to all Americans as a place where our soldiers were forced to retreat in early 1942. At the time we were unprepared for war.

Now the situation is reversed. We are strong. We are determined. We have the added advantage of having any escape route you choose blocked off. Our landing in the south denies you a means by which some of our men escaped to Corregidor. Help will not reach you.

Those of you who choose to live will receive humane treatment, food, tobacco, and medical care. Useless death on Bataan will not help you, your family, or your country. Think this over.

Leaflet 23-J-6

This leaflet targets Japanese troops in the Ormoc Corridor on the west coast of Leyte. It was dated 10 December 1944. It is in the form of a "News-extrafor dropping immediately after printing. Some of the text on the back is:


Strong American infantry forces, supported by tanks, armored cars, and heavy artillery made a successful landing on the west coast of Leyte, four miles south of Ormoc, outflanking large Japanese forces. General Yamashita and his staff evidently did not expect the landing, military observers said. There was only slight ground opposition from the Japanese troops. The landing split in two the Japanese forces in western Leyte. Their 25th Division is cut off from its supply base at Ormoc and trapped between the new American beachhead and the American forces attacking north from the Danulaan area, eleven miles south of Ormoc - An entire Japanese convoy of 13 vessels, including four large transports, seven destroyers and destroyer escorts, was lost of the west coast of Leyte. The convoy was apparently heading for Ormoc with reinforcements the same time our troops were landing. During the day, 52 Japanese aircraft were shot down.

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Leaflet 106-J-6

This leaflet depicts happy Japanese prisoners-of war. It was written by a Japanese prisoner who is actually in the picture eating a piece of chocolate. That chocolate might be the best propaganda. It is aimed at Japanese troops still fighting on Northern Luzon. The text on the front says in part:

We are all eagerly awaiting your arrival here. Our days are spent in pleasant surroundings. Our strength has increased with the food and special care the American soldiers have given us. We have renewed hop for the future.

The back is a long all text statement. It says in part:

Imperial Headquarters has announced the loss of Okinawa. The outcome of the war is now obvious. Several days before the fall of Okinawa, more than seven thousand Japanese soldiers surrendered, while in Northern Luzon hundreds are surrendering daily. These former soldiers are now safe and receiving food and medical attention. What is to be gained by further resistance? Further resistance will lead only to a miserable death. From my own experience I can guarantee you that your anxiety about your treatment is foolish. You will be given good treatment, food and medical supplies. Come to the American lines.

Bomb Warning



The concept of bomb warning leaflets is an interesting one. In theory it is a terrible idea because warning the enemy of where they will be bombed allows them to move anti-aircraft guns and fighter squadrons near to the target sites. For this reason, pilots hated them and did not want to drop them under any circumstances. On the other hand, strategic leaders knew that warning the Japanese of a coming bombing would cause the workers to flee the factories and tie up the roads, causing a drop in war production and transportation problems. Their observation that their military was helpless to protect them even when warned would destroy their morale.

The generals decreed that the warning would be disseminated. The OWI and the PWB handed this campaign in a very different way. The Navy dropped leaflets showing a B-29 bomber and listing a dozen cities that might be bombed in the near future. The message was “In the next few days, four or more of the cities named on the reverse side of this leaflet will be destroyed by American bombs.” That gave the Allied pilots a little leeway since the Japanese defenders did not know where or when the attack would occur. The Army did it much more dangerously. They dropped a leaflet that said that the city targeted would be bombed within three days. Apparently this worked quite well and the Japanese did admit to major problems with industry when such a leaflet was dropped. Almost a decade later when MacArthur was fighting the North Koreans, the Americans used an almost identical leaflet. Apparently it worked.

Leaflet 150-J-1 depicts what the Psywar specialists call a "streamer," depicting a bomb burst on the front with a bright red background and the text:

Civilians! Evacuate at once!

There is text on the back that says in part:

These leaflets are being dropped to notify you that your city has been listed for destruction by our powerful air force. The bombing will begin within 72 hours.

This advance notice will give your military ample time to take the necessary defensive measure to protect you from our inevitable attack. Watch and see how powerless they are to protect you.

We give the military clique this notification of our plans because we know there is nothing they can do to stop our overwhelming power and our iron determination. We want you to see how powerless the military is to protect you.

Systematic destruction of city after city will continue as long as you blindly follow your military leaders whose blunders have placed you on the very brink of extinction. It is your responsibility to overthrow the military government now and save what is left of your beautiful country.

In the meantime; we urge all civilians to evacuate at once.

[Author’s note]: the same image was used by American forces fighting in Korea in 1950. That leaflet had text in Korean warning of scheduled bombing raids and warning the people to evacuate 10 named cities, most prominently Pyongyang. That leaflet was coded 1013.

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Bomb Warning leaflet Printed by the U.S. Navy Attack Transport McIntyre

The U.S.S. Marvin H. McIntyre (APA-129)

Over the years I have seen many American leaflets overprinted with comments and a postage stamp from an attack transport. The USS Marvin H. McIntyre (APA-129) was a Haskell-class attack transport of the US Navy. She was built and used during World War II. Originally designated "Arlington" for Arlington County, Virginia, she was renamed in memorial to Marvin H. McIntyre, Secretary to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who died in office in 1943, becoming the only Haskell-class ship not named for a US County. This attack transport had a printing press onboard and prepared the leaflets to be dropped by naval aircraft flying from aircraft carriers. I have always hated the overprints because they deface the leaflet. Still, we can assume that some smart sailor decided that there was a profit to be made from the leaflets. It appears he took them to the ship's post office and had them cancelled as a way to prove that they were in Japanese waters in 1945. On this version of leaflet 150-J-1 above the sailor has placed a U.S. one-cent George Washington postage stamp cancelled with the date 28 October 1945 and the name of his ship, the Marvin H. McIntyre. There is also a brief text:

Army occupation landing Oct. 28, ’45. The bomber plant city of Nagoya, Honshu J. Target of Doolittle’s raid.

The sailor probably thought that the stamp and cancellation would make the leaflets more valuable, but because they are fairly common and most collectors want pristine copies, I believe the defacing of the leaflets makes them less valuable.


Leaflet 18-F-6

Unlike leaflet 150-J-1 above which is more of a strategic leaflet aimed at the higher echelons of the Japanese military and government, Sixth Army leaflet 18-F-6 is a tactical bomb warning leaflet, probably dropped just ahead of the American military forces to warn the Filipinos to stay well clear of the fighting. It warns the Filipinos to stay off the roads and away from military targets.

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Japanese Philippine Islands Warning Poster

This Japanese warning would normally go into my article on Japanese PSYOP, but it is so similar to the American PWB warning above that I thought it would be interesting to show it here so they can be compared. Note that the American leaflet says “We don’t want to hurt you,” while the Japanese leaflet leaves no doubt as to their intentions. Filipinos will be “shot to death.”

Propaganda Songs

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Leaflet 19-F-6

When the U.S. Army hit the beaches of the Philippines Islands to drive out the Japanese occupiers, an entire series of “F” leaflets were prepared and disseminated. The first number in the code indicates the number of a particular series, the “F” indicates “Filipino,” and the final number indicates the army, in this case the 6th U.S. Army. This leaflet bears the lyrics of the song “Heaven Watch the Philippines,” written by Irving Berlin and dedicated to General Douglas MacArthur. The general in accepting the dedication said:

The Commander in Chief appreciates greatly the distinction of the dedication of a song by such a distinguished author and producer as Mr. Irving Berlin. He is deeply grateful to him not only for that, but for the magnificent aid he is rendering the Allied cause.

Instructional Leaflets

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This leaflet was prepared to instruct the Filipinos how to act as they came in contact with advancing American troops. It mentions the danger of being on the roads and out in the open and warns against black marketeering although that term is not specifically used. It mentions the police, medical and financial aid. It sets the standard for transactions between the Filipinos and the United States Army.

Surrender Leaflets

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Leaflet 8-J-6 (First Version)

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Leaflet 17-J-1 (Second Version)

Although there were many types of surrender leaflets produced during the war, the most famous in the Pacific was the “I Cease Resistance” type. This leaflet had started with the text “I surrender,” but it was quickly found that the Japanese despised surrender and thought it cowardly. The leaflets were tested, revised, made larger so that they were more visible to both the Japanese and the American soldiers who might shoot the Japanese coming over to the Americans not realizing that they were surrendering, and eventually dropped in numerous forms. Readers who want to know more about this operation should read my article: The “I Cease Resistance” Safe Conduct Passes of WWII. I am aware of about 11 different versions of this standard leaflet, and more may exist.

The first version of the leaflet above was prepared by the U.S. Sixth Army for the Japanese on the Philippines. Notice that it uses the old “I Surrender” text. The message on the back is:

Brave Soldiers of Nippon:

The force to which you are attached has fought with great bravery. Rarely in the present war have we encountered such fighting spirit among Yamato warriors. We have gained deep respect for your courage.

But the war cannot be won by courage alone.

Our troops were able to attack you in overwhelming force because American factories have supplied us with superior weapons. You have felt their quality and power. Our planes dominate the field of battle. You are waiting for the Japanese Air Force but your expectation is in vain.

Your Force Commander ordered you into a hopeless attack. Then he delayed retreat too long, hoping in vain to retrieve his error. As the old saying goes:

“The General reaps the glory, while ten thousand sacrifice themselves.”

Now there is no escape. Your line of communication is cut off from the main Japanese force, and your escape route is now cut. Reinforcements cannot reach you. Every other Japanese unit is also cut off now. Some seek only to save themselves. Many others have honorably ceased resistance and are now in our care.

Your fate is like a flickering candle in the wind.

It is for you to decide whether you want to die a useless death or seek peace with honor.

This leaflet is your ticket to start a new life after the war.

The second version of the leaflet above is actually one of two versions of this “I Cease Resistance” leaflet with the same code number. The Japanese text on the front is the same on both, but the photographer has moved back so now there are four Japanese POWs with their eyes blanked out whereas on the first version only three are depicted. The text on the front is:

The text of the English message written above is:

This man is no longer an enemy, According to International Law; he is guaranteed personal safety, clothes, food, quarters and medical attention. 

The picture at the left shows some of your comrades who came over to our side.

Eyes are covered to protect their families in Japan.

Text on the back is:


You have fought bravely without the aid of your Navy and Air Force while suffering from a shortage of food. Fate was against you, however, and you have come to the final stage.

Is a meaningless death the only thing left to you? Why don’t you seek the road to a new life and live for the future of Japan?

Your comrades, already under American protection, have recovered their health and are already enjoying a communal life.

This leaflet is a safe conduct pass to the American lines. Throw away you weapons and approach the American positions or sentry lines, carrying this message (or a piece of white cloth) on a stick. If you see an American soldier, raise both arms and obey his signs.

One leaflet may be used by a group.

I should point out that the original 17-J-1 leaflet had a blank back and this is considered a major error in leafleting since the enemy can place a message of their own on the back. In the case of the second version of this leaflet, the back bears an all-text message coded 141-J-1 and as a result it is also listed with that code number by the PWB. The same message apparently is also found on Leaflet 6-J-2 except that message adds "the Island of Luzon" to the text


I called this section “quartets” because there are two groups of leaflets that are in the same series, and each contains four different small leaflets.



Leaflet 14-J-1 (A-D)

The first four leaflets are all exactly the same size, with a military scene on the front with a bright red background. One leaflet depicts a Japanese military truck, the second a destroyer, the third an artillery piece, and the fourth a Mitsubishi  G4M “Betty” bomber, also known as the Navy Type 1 Attack bomber, or Hamaki (cigar). All of the leaflets bear quotations from Japanese publications on occupied areas of raw production that have been lost. The American title for the series is "Tools of War." The text on the front of the four leaflets is:

1. Rubber is a special product of the South Seas.
2. Oil is a special product of the South Seas.
3. Light metals are important products of the South Seas.
4. Metals for steel and other alloys are imported products of the South Seas.

Some of the texts from the back of the four leaflets is:

Quotations from Japanese publications:

Captain Kurihara Etsuzo (Chief of Naval Operations) says:

For Japan too, the loss of the Dutch Indies would make it extremely difficult to carry on the modern warfare that we have today, the so called "War of Constant Production." Consequently, the Japanese struggle to retain the southern regions is one of our most important tasks.

American forces are now firmly established in the Philippines. How will this affect the war of supply?

 Admiral Nomura Kichisaburo says:

Japan’s great strength is due to her possession of the petroleum and other vital raw materials of the former Dutch East Indies.

In wartime, these distant regions are not just a southern extremity, but the vital “heart” of Japan. 

If this “heart” should be lost, Japan would be attacked from the air; it would be a “death blow” to Japan.

A Japanese prisoner said that some of the text on these leaflets was incorrect since for instance, Japan depends on Korea and Manchuria for such materials as bauxite and steel and not the Southern Regions.

Leaflets 132A-J-1 through 132D-J-1, The Question Mark Series

Each of the four leaflets in this series contains a single question on the front, with art on the reverse.

Leaflet 132A-J-1

132A-J1 depicts a large question mark surrounding Japan, Korea and Manchuria and asks, "Is the war strategy going well?"

132B-J1 depicts a calendar with the years 1943 and 1944 detached and the year 1945 about to fall. A question mark and the text, "How much longer will this misery last?"

132C-J1 depicts question marks over Japan and Tokyo and the text, "Is a prolonged war profitable?"

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Leaflet 132D-J-1

132D-J1 depicts a country girl amid a shower of leaflets falling from the sky, looking at one at her feet marked "Facts.". The text is, "Why is it wrong to read leaflets?"

Since the Japanese were told that all leaflets were lies and should never be read, this leaflet encourages the people look at them. The leaflets bear the title, “Facts.”

President Roosevelt

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In this leaflet coded 3-J-8 President Roosevelt sends a message to the Filipinos. He compliments them for keeping the faith and trusting in the United States, he promises liberation and asks them to continue helping the Guerillas and the American forces. The back of the leaflet is a patriotic image depicting the crossed flags of the United States and the Philippines.


An uncoded pre-invasion leaflet featuring President Roosevelt

This leaflet was probably dropped about 1943 like another uncoded leaflet we depict in this article featuring President Quezon. The front of the leaflet features Roosevelt and military leaders Nimitz and MacArthur, and a P-40 fighter and what appears to be a C-47 cargo aircraft. The back photographs state that Americans build schools while the Japanese burn them and shows American naval power and tells the Filipinos that America is completely mobilized for war.


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Memorandum explaining the Four General MacArthur Letters

The 27 September 1944 document gives the order in which the four letters are to be dropped and explains that until they are they are to be considered top secret.


Memorandum explaining to the PWB personnel the code numbers of the various proclamations and the numbers of each printed.

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To the People of the Philippines

Once General MacArthur and President Osmena returned to the Philippines they both issued a series of proclamations. Although none of these letter-sized proclamations bear a code, my files show that the early ones were all coded sequentially from 1(a)-F-1 to 1(h)-F-1 by the PWB. The first four by MacArthur, the second four by Osmena. More may exist. The first we show is probably the first MacArthur proclamation released on the day he returned. Once again he starts his statement with “I have returned.” Some of these proclamations show stains at the top and bottom since they were glued down in the PWB scrapbooks. The usual manner for removing them is to soak the page in warm water.

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Whereas, the forces under my command…

In this Proclamation to the People of the Philippines, MacArthur basically states that he is back and now legally controls the Philippines. He tells the Filipinos to obey the laws of the legal government that he will institute.

There is another proclamation with this same title “Proclamation to the People of the Philippines” though different text. In it, MacArthur discusses what he intends to do with the courts, how he will prosecute war crimes, the new Philippine currency, the banks and a debt moratorium. In regard to Philippine currency he states that there will be new banknotes; and that the old ones before the Japanese arrived and that emergency notes printed by the pro-American guerrillas are all valid, but anything the Japanese or their collaborators prepared are invalid:

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The New Philippine Victory Peso

A new victory series of Philippine Treasure Certificates (Victory Pesos) and Philippine coins, identical with pre-war issues, have been prepared and will be legal tender. The rate of exchange is two Victory Pesos for one American dollar. All pre-war Philippine Treasure Certificates are valid.

Japanese currency, Philippine National Banknotes (except for duly authorized emergency issues), notes of the Bank of the Philippines Islands, and New Central Bank notes are not legal tender. Transactions in these currencies are prohibited.

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Providing for Military Measures to be Taken…

Another signed MacArthur proclamation was actually coded 14-F-6. This 29 December 1944 proclamation is entitled, “Providing the Military Measures to be taken upon the Apprehension of Citizens who have voluntarily given Aid, Comfort and Substance to the Enemy.” It explains in some depth that MacArthur will remove such persons when apprehended from any position of political or economic influence, arrest them and after the end of the war see that they are released to the Philippine government for judgement. This same statement is found on a larger sheet in the form of a proclamation with the same code number.

Prof. Augusto de Viana differentiates five types of collaborators in his book Kulaburetor, University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2016:

Political Collaborators - Consisting of members of the pre-War political elite; Economic Opportunists - Businessmen and politicos found opportunity to amass wealth as suppliers of strategic materials and other items needed by the Japanese war effort; Cultural collaborators - They were mostly staff members of publications that the Japanese utilized for propaganda; Civil order and police forces - They were members of the police and the Japanese-led Bureau of Constabulary; and Military quislings - The Makapili, Ganap, Palaak, Pampar, and United Nippon were formed directly to support Japanese army operations.

In fact, Jose P. Laurel, the collaborationist Philippine President who worked with the Japanese was arrested in Japan on 7 September 1945 and returned to the Philippines in June 1946. He was charged with treason but released under a general amnesty before the conclusion of his trial.

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Patriots of the Philippines

Here the General seems to complement the Filipinos for their loyalty and help in his campaign. He explains that he will promulgate specific orders but expects their common sense to rule in all cases. The back his signed and the proclamation ends with the paragraph:

Above all, I call for unity among the people - that unity so essential to the development of maximum strength at this critical time. Let the depth of your patriotism and your love of freedom rise above all differences, factional quarrels, disputes and petty jealousies; that all patriots unflinchingly may march shoulder to shoulder toward a common destiny.

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To Count Terauchi

This proclamation to the Commander in Chief of Japanese Forces is interesting because MacArthur is clearly disturbed. He has heard that American prisoners have been treated brutally. He warns of possible retribution to come.

MacArthur received some criticism for charging the former commander of Japanese forces in the Philippines, General Yamashita Tomoyuki, with war crimes committed in the city of Manila. Tomoyuki was 80 kilometers away from Manila at the time and out of communication with his troops. He was found guilty and executed in February 1946. Some critics believed that MacArthur simply wanted revenge because he had been beaten badly and forced to flee the Philippines at the start of the war.

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Fellow Countrymen

This is the first of several proclamations by President Osmena. It bears no code but my records show that it is very likely 1(e)-F-1. It asks that Filipinos come forth to work for the Allies and for food production to feed themselves. President Osmena apparently published at least four proclamations because my files show codes for him from 1(e)-F-1 to 1(h)-F-1

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My Fellow Countrymen

Osmena tells his countrymen here that MacArthur and freedom have returned. He urges his people to rise up and fight the Japanese as the Americans approach their homes.


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Rakkasan News No. 21

Wherever American propagandists go, newspapers are sure to follow. Since the enemy generally only hears favorable news from his side, the Americans tend to make it a point to give him a more truthful and unbiased look at the current war situation. The Rakkasan Nyuso (“Parachute News”) was published by the PWB from about March to August 1945. The 4 August 1945 paper above has the following news stories on the front side:

The full text of the Potsdam Proclamation; MacArthur plans the bombing of strategic sites in Japan; Three Japanese convoys sunk; The toll of Japanese dead and taken as prisoners in the Philippines; peace is now possible if the Japanese choose it.

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Rakkasan News No. 22 (Back)

This very historic issue of the Rakkasan news is dated 11 August 1945. That is five days after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. One of the main stories is:

Atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, the most powerful weapon on Earth.

Other stories include: Heavy bombings of Japanese cities by B-29s; Japan blockaded by Minefields; Japanese hospital ship carries arms and unwounded soldiers; huge July toll of Japanese ships and planes; and MacArthur’s planes make Kagasaki port area a flaming inferno.

The photo in the center of the paper shows a Nisei (an American of Japanese descent) Sergeant holding his nephew on Okinawa).

Sandler adds:

The very popular and effective Rakkasan News was also published in Manila, but of course, for the enemy…All prisoners interrogated said it was a very professional Tokyo-type newspaper. Even those overwhelming majority of Japanese troops who did not defect were starved for news and could be influenced by U.S. PSYWAR news sheets…Between 20 and 26 May, 119 Japanese surrendered to XI Corps troops, and for the most part admitted they had been influenced by American PSYWAR, even though they were in fairly good condition; they particularly appreciated Rakkasan News. A Japanese Domei news agency correspondent’s report, found by Filipino guerrillas, stated that he looked forward to each issue, due to its timely news.

General Feller says:

Each week one to two million copies were dropped on enemy troops and the civil population in Japan. Prisoners of War in the Philippine said that the Rakkasan News was the only source of truthful information available to the Japanese soldier from the outside world.

Let us discuss the actual newspaper and its effectiveness for just a moment. On 19 October 1945, interviews were held with numerous Japanese officials about the effectiveness of American propaganda leaflets. They were rated as "very effective," "Effective," "Slightly effective" and "Not effective." The Japanese gave only four leaflets a rating of "Very effective," and the Rakkasan News was one of the four. Some examples of why they rated it so highly:

The Rakkasan News was effective and better than leaflets in results achieved. The contents of the newspaper have actual photographs and news stories that gave information on the true situation. The newspaper stirred up the curiosity of the people, they read it and began to disbelieve the sincerity of the military and Imperial Headquarters.

One Japanese prisoner questioned about his opinion of this propaganda newspaper by the PWB said that it was the most effective of all the leaflets, and recommended a way to make it even better:

Articles concerning the Emperor should appear at the top of the page, a precedent established by Japanese newspapers. Any item concerning the Emperor should be reprinted exactly as released by Domei [the Japanese news service], since the exact wording would then ring true to the Japanese.

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Ji Ji Shu Ho – Issue Number Six - 24f-J-6

Another newspaper printed by the U.S. Sixth Army was Ji Ji Shu Ho (News of the Week.) This 8.5 x 11.5-inch newspaper was designed to infiltrate Japanese troops with true news of Allied action on all fronts, with emphasis on the Southwest pacific and the Philippines. Each issue was coded with the leaflet number “24,” a letter for the issue (“A” the first issue, “B” the second issue, etc.). The third issue dated 12 January 1945 with the headline “Powerful American Forces Invade Luzon” was 24c-J-6.

We depict Issue 6 above, with stories of American troops on their way to Manila, Japanese General Yamashita claiming that all is going well, a picture of “Mr. B-San,” the Japanese name for the B-29 bomber, and a Japanese style cartoon showing an aircraft carrier landing what it thought to be a fighter but turns out to be a seagull.

A U.S. Eighth Army newspaper was actually more like a newssheet. It was coded 1-(C)-J-8, dated 28 December 1944 with the title Jijitsu Shimpo (Factual News Account). Once again the letter “C” indicates the third issue of the newspaper. The newspaper was aimed at Japanese troops on Leyte.

The Classified “Confidential” United States Navy Pacific Fleet and Pacific Ocean Areas Weekly Intelligence of 9 April 1945 mentions the Japanese thoughts regarding American psychological warfare:


Some estimation of the effects of Allied propaganda warfare of Japan’s homeland is contained in a recent domestic radio broadcast by the chief managing editor of the Tokyo newspaper, Mainishi. “The Nefarious Schemes of the Enemy” was the title of the address. The speaker postulates that the outstanding aim of "the enemy's indiscriminate bombing attacks is to demoralize the people, along with the destruction of our fighting power."

Against a war-weary Japan, he foresees a general propaganda offensive in order to create a desire for peace among the people. The speaker continues, in part:

"The enemy has used every possible trick against our people. It is only natural that the enemy's efforts in spreading propaganda will be increased as the bombing attacks increase. In carrying out his machinations and propaganda the most important means used by the enemy are radio, newspapers, magazines, and handbills, dropped from the air.

"As for radio, due to skillful interference by our radio stations, the enemy's broadcasts have been completely sealed from the ears of our people. As the fighting is brought closer to our homeland, there is no doubt that the enemy will resort to every possible method, such as changing frequencies, to bring his propaganda to our ears. If you happen to be listening to a broadcast which is hard to understand, or which appears to be queer, that is an enemy propaganda broadcast, and you must turn the switch and pay no attention to it at all.

"Printed papers, such as newspapers, magazines and handbills scattered from the air, were distributed all over the place during the carrier plane attacks in February. Propaganda handbills, taking the form of newspapers and magazines, must have been printed in Honolulu for they are beautiful Japanese language prints which look as if they were printed in Japan. We must be vigilant because the enemy gradually may take up more skillful methods.

"To listen to or read enemy propaganda once or twice would not amount to anything but if this is repeated a great number of times, people may become interested. To take an interest in enemy propaganda material is equivalent to the first stage of being taken in by enemy propaganda.

"Recently we have been hearing frequent talks on just what part of our country is likely to be dangerous (In the event of an invasion) and whether we should evacuate (those areas) and seek refuge elsewhere. To spread such false rumors or to believe them means that you already have taken the first step in falling in line with the enemy's machinations and propaganda."


This is just a very short story to give an example of what General MacArthur’s Psychological Warfare Branch produced for the Philippine Campaign. Since over 200 leaflets exist, this article could easily be two or three times larger. Readers who want to know more about the psychological operations in the Pacific should read my articles on Australian and American Army and Navy general propaganda in The United States PSYOP Organization in the Pacific during World War II; the U.S. Navy and Office of War Information civilian operations in the Pacific Theatre in OWI Pacific PSYOP Six Decades ago; and the Japanese methods of psychological warfare in Japanese PSYOP During WWII. The four articles together give a very detailed account of psychological operations in the Pacific Theatre during WWII.

A PWB Certificate

Brigadier General Bonner F. Fellers, Military Secretary to Commander in Chief General Douglas MacArthur, signs a standard certificate for a departing PWB propagandist.

General Fellers said that the U.S. suffered 59,510 deaths in the Philippines. The Japanese lost 314,387 troops. That is a 1 to 5.3 average. He believed this his PSYOP helped convince 12,181 Japanese troops to surrender. He says that be using the same ratio, had those troops fought to the death another 2,300 American troops would have been killed.

This was my last mention of Fellers when I first wrote this story. As time went by and there was some question of what he did not have more recognition, it was pointed out that General Eisenhower did not like him. I wondered how that could be and after studying several books and reports, including To War with Whitaker, Hermione Ranfurly, Pan Books, 1994. This was the diary of a British titled woman who took part in WWII while her husband was a prisoner of war. She mentioned Fellers a dozen times and it became clear why Ike did not like him. Eisenhower was the perfect general in Europe, he somehow kept the British and American and French troops with all the personalities and egos under control. We don’t insult anyone. We all get along fine here. Feller was a loose cannon. In early 1941 he was the US Military Attaché to the British Army in Egypt. Ranfurly says, He was an original and delightful person who seems to say exactly what he thinks to everyone regardless of nationality or rank. In June when Hitler invades Russia she says, Bonner Fellers is the only person I have met who thinks the Russians will survive – he has been to Russia recently and says the Germans have bitten off more than they can chew. In January 1942 in Cairo he says, I’m getting unpopular here. Not so much with your people as with the US Embassy in Cairo and in Washington; they think I am a defeatist but that’s not going to stop me saying what I think about the military situation, which is my job to do. The trouble is your top brass are overconfident which they’ve no right to be. Your gear is still inferior to the German’s, and you are less well led – too many senior officers are sitting on their arses at GHQ. If I get levered out, I shall join MacArthur – he’s the best soldier we have. Remember that MacArthur and Eisenhower did not like each other, and Fellers has just put himself in the MacArthur camp. In November 1943 Ranfurly meets Eisenhower and asks, if he knew Bonner Fellers, the American Attaché we all liked who was here during some of the Desert war. Eisenhower replied tersely: Any friend of Bonner Fellers is no friend of mine. Insulted, she immediately leaves. Ike called to apologize the next day, but she wanted no part of him. Unlike Montgomery, she was not charmed by Eisenhower.

And the last mention of him and certainly the worst blow was when it was found out that the Germans had broken the code he was given to report back to the states. This was not his code, it was an official code, but of course he was blamed. Bonner Fellers did not know that the Germans – and, separately, the Italians – were soon to break the American cipher with which he reported the news he culled from the British Commanders, with whom he was on excellent terms. His telegrams to Washington, for a while, became one of the best sources of Intelligence for Rommel who arrived in Tripoli on 12 February. Ultimately (in 1942) the British, through ULTRA, realized what was happening when they read signals between Rommel and Berlin; and then Bonner Fellers was moved.

And that seems to explain why Eisenhower did not care for Fellers. He was a loose cannon, said what he liked, would insult the British allies, and most of all had his mail read which helped the enemy and led to his removal.  On the other hand, MacArthur loved him and wanted to promote him.

At the end of the war MacArthur’s PWB was disbanded and became the Information Dissemination Section. The personnel were then assigned to work with the Japanese press, radio, theaters and schools. On 22 September 1945, the Information Dissemination Section was merged into a Special Staff Section, Civil Information and Education.

AmericaChallengedPhilippinesAcc.jpg (521362 bytes)

A bookplate inscribed to show the name of the book's owner.

Ex Libris is usually found on a bookplate glued to the back of the cover of a book. Collector’s use them to protect their books. Proclaim their ownership, and even to talk about the owner and show his personal habits and hobbies. Back in the early part of the last century they were very popular and artistic.

The bookplate above was found in a collection of WWII Office of War Information leaflets used against Japan. It could be a propaganda leaflet, but it shows no code. The blank back shows signs of gum. Looking carefully I noticed an impressed seal at the right front that read:


I also saw a copy of this offered by a seller with the comment:

This leaflet was delivered by American aircraft to The Philippines, on December 8, 1944.

So, what is this item? I believe that probably it was airdropped during the invasion of the Philippines and a very patriotic Filipino saw the leaflet decided to use it as a bookplate. It depicts a Filipino mother over her dead son and a Filipino father holding his fist against the sky; their village burning in the background. The text is:

America Challenged! The Philippines Accepted!

YamashitaLetter.jpg (574347 bytes)

MacArthur’s Final Leaflet to the Japanese in the Philippines?

This could be one of the most interesting leaflets from the Philippine campaign. We don’t know much about it, except that it was found with some military papers and was accompanied by a handwritten letter from a veteran that stated it was a surrender leaflet from Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita (the Tiger of Malaya) telling his troops to surrender. I assume the leaflet would have been printed by U.S. forces after the Japanese surrender and the general ordered to sign it and then it was reproduced and disseminated. Note at the bottom the English-language sentence: “Please bring this leaflet to the nearest Japanese unit or soldier.” If this item is genuine it would have told all the Japanese on the Philippine Islands that the war was over. The letter is difficult to read but we can make out most of the text:


This is the grand order of surrender issued by General MacArthur and signed by General Yamashita on 3 September 1945.

He was commander of all Jap bastards in the Philippines. He was also present at General Wainwright’s surrender of Corregidor way back when…

He also (Yamashita) was partially responsible for the murdering of hundreds of Americans in the “Death March of Bataan.”

Forever yours faithfully,


Yamashita’s signature is the very heavy scratching in the lower right-hand corner.

The text of the leaflet is:

This leaflet is being distributed by American airplanes to all Japanese personnel who are not aware of the official notification.

This order to cease all wartime hostilities is being issued from the highest authority. Each soldier must cease fighting at once. You are further instructed to communicate this order to other fellow soldiers. However, military discipline is to be maintained. You must continue to obey orders from your military superior. All units are to assemble at a convenient location. Contact the nearest American unit and await further instructions.

Military order from the northernmost base, 30 August 1945, the 20th year of the Emperor's Reign.

Allegedly this leaflet was also dropped by American aircraft as General Douglas MacArthur landed in Japan for the official surrender of that nation and the end of WWII. If true, this would be a PWB leaflet from MacArthur's PSYWAR Branch.

ToAllPhilippinesSCP.jpg (311822 bytes)

To All Persons in the Philippine Islands

Since we are talking about surrender leaflets here is one to the Americans, Japanese and Filipinos. It is clearly after the fall of the Philippines and tells everyone that Japanese soldiers coming out of the bush to surrender are to be unharmed and forwarded to the U.S. Army. It does not bear a code number, but I am sure this was a PWB leaflet and it is possible that the code number was lost when the leaflet sustained several tears. The back has a long surrender message to the Japanese soldier still in the field. Note: To save space I have severely cropped this image, in reality there was a large section missing at the lower left.


If the Japanese had not surrendered there were plans for the Army PWB PSYOP people In the Philippines to take part in the invasion of Japan:

InvasionJapanChart01.jpg (72737 bytes)

Invasion of Japan PSYOP Chart

This chart from the Dr. Thomas H Huber Combat Studies Institute booklet Pastel: Deception in the Invasion of Japan shows that General MacArthur’s Army PSYOP operation in the Philippines would work hand in hand with Admiral Nimitz’s Navy PSYOP people on the Island of Guam to drop leaflets and deceive the leaders of Japan on where the invasion would occur. The real assault code-named Olympic was planned for South Kyushu on 1 November 1945. The deception plan code-named Pastel featured fake invasions of Shanghai on 1 October 1945 and Shikoku on 1 December 1945. The atomic bomb made all this planning unnecessary.

The Chusan-Shanghai and Shikoku deception stories were to be sold with leaflet drops, psychological warfare radio broadcasts, air reconnaissance, bombing and strafing, and a submarine-borne beach penetration landing. Leaflet drops in the Shanghai area were to be provided by the Far East Air Force (FEAF) and the content was to be directed at Japanese military or Chinese civilian morale. Drops were to be at the rate of two per week in early August, three per week in late August, then one every two weeks after the target shifted to Shikoku on 7 September. FEAF was also to show U.S. interest in the Shanghai region by conducting "aerial reconnaissance, photography, bombing, and strafing missions." These missions were to be flown three times per week before 7 September and once every two weeks thereafter. The extension of leaflet drops and air reconnaissance even after 7 September was required because PASTEL called for a latent threat to be maintained against the Shanghai region even though Shikoku had been designated the next main assault zone.

Back to Bataan

Whenever I see PSYOP used in a war film I like to add it to the article I have written about that part of the war. For instance. leaflets were dropped in the films Battleground and Dunkirk, and I depicted both in the stories of those battles. In the 1945 film Back to Bataan, a Filipino woman is depicted as a collaborator, but we later find out she is working with the Americans to drive the Japanese out of her homeland. The actress, Fely Franquelli plays the radio announcer Dalisay Delgado, the former love of a Filipino patriot. In the picture above, she has pretended to be a supporter of a Japanese plan to give the Philippines a “freedom” with strings attached. At the crucial moment, the guerrillas attack the ceremony and Dalisay grabs a microphone and tells the people the truth about the Japanese. Deception and radio propaganda all rolled into one.

As always, the author invites questions and comments. Readers are encouraged to write to him at Sgmbert@hotmail.com.