Yamashita Gold

by Daniel Bernzweig

What is the Yamashita Treasure?

An alleged Japanese war treasure, Yamashitas Treasure, was purported stolen in Southeast Asia during World War II. The treasure is believed to be hidden in caves, underground tunnels, bunkers, and underground complexes in various cities throughout the Philippines.

Yamashita was named after the Japanese general who was in charge of gathering the war loot during World War II, Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita, known as the Tiger of Malaya. Rumors about the Yamashita gold have flowed freely since that time as the treasure was kept secret following the Pacific War.

Facts About The Gold

During the Second World War, Japan completely destroyed China and parts of Southeast Asia. The Japanese were able to collect a large amount of gold along the way, as well as a stolen treasure, while passing through. To hide all of the stolen goods from the Allied forces, Tsuneyoshi Takeda, the head of the Kwantung Army, decided to conceal all the stolen goods. During World War II, the Japanese were able to hide their contraband to return for their treasure at a later date.

Just three decades earlier, Japan had won the Russo-Japanese War with emperor Hirohito. It astonished international observers not only that a hitherto closed-off Asian country had destroyed a European force but that it had done so honorably and strictly adhered to the rules of war, whatever they were. The Japanese military of 1937, however, was a different animal. The Japanese seized all money and treasure, recovered Nazi loot, and replaced gold bullion with worthless Japanese Military Yen when southeast Asia and the Asian Pacific post of Hong Kong, Malaya, Singapore, the Philippines, and Guam fell to the Japanese forces in 1941 and 1942. The Japanese used US money to buy supplies in neutral nations in January 1942, when more than $15 million vanished from Manila bank vaults.

After the invasion, the situation in Manila was dire. However, when the tide turned against the Japanese, the situation deteriorated significantly. Ten days before the United States landed on Luzon, the Japanese appointed General Tomoyuki Yamashita-dubbed the Tiger of Malaya-as commander of the Fourteenth Army. President Truman, who was keen on the Middle East, noticed the hidden treasure, and the treasure hunt for imperial Japanese treasure or the looted treasure of Santa Romana began. General Yamashita ordered his forces to withdraw from Manila rather than attempt to keep it, but a Navy subordinate had other ideas.

Japanese Army General Yamashita

After a tunnel was built in Cagayan Valley, Luzon, the slaves who built it and the treasure were locked inside. By sealing the slaves inside the tunnel, only Prince Takeda and General Yamashita knew the treasure's location. Yamashita was sentenced for the war crimes committed by his men once he was captured by the Allied troops. Some believe that the secrets of the treasure died with him when he was executed. Treasure Hunters and explorers quickly learned about Yamashita's Gold after he was executed by hanging. Today, many a Treasure Hunter has gone in search of yet failed to find the gold.

A Sighting of the Treasure?

In a news story, Divers were seen clearing mud from gold blocks allegedly booby-trapped with explosives. This video has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times since it was posted on YouTube years ago. Reddit has also circulated it. The location of this discovery, however, remains a mystery. According to anthropologist Piers Kelly, these myths are just rumors. Deep seeking 2 box metal detectors and underwater detectors are often used for locating deeply buried treasures like this treasure.

The Hunt For Yamashitas Gold

Modern-day treasure hunters with metal detectors will find lots to read on the subject. It is interesting to note that much has been written about the fabled treasure, some of which is true. Whatever you read, do not believe everything that you hear, though. Start with a bit of knowledge and research before embarking on any search. Sterling Seagrave and his wife Peggy Seagrave believe Yamashita's gold exists. Their publications include The Yamato Dynasty: The Secret History of Japan's Imperial Family (2000) and Gold Warriors: America's Secret Recovery of Yamashita's Gold (2003).

References to this famous treasure have popped up in more recent times. In books, well-known author Clive Cussler uses the treasure as part of the plot in his novel "Dragon." The Dragon was released in hardcover in 1990 and in a paperback version a year later in 1991. On television, the TV show Expedition Unknown set out in search of Yamashita's Treasure. In 2016, host Josh Gates traveled to the Philippines searching for the lost treasure of Yamashita's Gold. Back in the 1970s and again in the 1980s, Robert Curtis of Nevada led teams on active searches for the elusive gold.

Has Any Gold Been Found in the Philippines?

In the Philippines, treasure hunters are searching for a gold hoard believed buried deep underground. It is rumored that the excavation of gold by so many searching for the treasure might result in landslides. Filipino folktales give origin to the idea of buried treasures. Historiographers believe fables like this one are nothing more than myths. While returning home, Japanese war booty ships were sunk in battle. The Seagraves and a few others say military intelligence operatives located most of the loot. They worked together with Hirohito to keep it secret. It is believed that U.S. covert intelligence operations worldwide were financed with gold. Experts and Filipino historians say that there is no credible evidence behind these rumors.

The Philippines treasure seekers are excavating a gold trove allegedly hidden by a Japanese commander during World War II. An anthropologist believes Filipino folklore motivates the pursuit of rumored hidden wealth. There may not even be any of the lost gold belonging to Yasuhiro Yamashita, according to historians.

Conspiracy Theories

Japanese soldiers collected the treasure so that they could fund the war effort, according to one leading theory. Prince Yasuhito Chichibu, Hirohito's younger brother, led a top-secret organization called the Kin no yuri (Golden Lily). A large amount of gold and other valuable items were stolen by the army, and the group was in charge of recovering them. The gold and wealth that was accumulated by the army came from banks, depository institutions, businesses, museums, private residences, and religious buildings. One item was a Golden Budha statue; Prince Chichibu was especially keen on protecting this treasure.

Who Found Yamashita's Treasure in the Philippines?

One theory is that Yamashitas gold was found by the American military after WWII. It was used to fund the CIA during the Cold War. Evidence of this happening has not been found. Originally, it is believed that the Japanese wished to move the treasure to Japan; however, under the United States authority in Asia, they were prevented from doing so.

Reports that Douglas MacArthur and a team which included Robert Anderson, located gold in caves under parts of the Philipines. It is said that Anderson, on behalf of the United States, hid this gold in many locations worldwide for future operations. Robert Anderson was the US Secretary of the Navy in the 1950s and later became the Secretary of the US Treasury.

According to Imelda Marcos, the former First Lady of the Philippines, the huge wealth of her husband, President Ferdinand Marcos, was the result of the war loot, enhancing conspiracy theories and legends around the Yamashita Treasure. Despite Marcos' claims, conspiracy theories and legends persist. Even though there has been speculation surrounding Marcos' wealth, there is no evidence that it came from the Yamashita Treasure.

Has Yamashita's treasure been found?

Possibly is the best answer to this question. Rogelio Roxas, a locksmith and Filipino treasure hunter met the son of a former Japanese soldier in 1961 and was given a treasure map to the gold. Roxas spent a decade searching for the Yamashita Treasure and, in 1971, claims to have found it. Rogelio Roxas Golden Budha Corporation asserted in his lawsuit Roxas v. Marcos that the former president of the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos, and his wife, Imelda Marcos, had committed violations of human rights and theft in 1988 in Hawaii. It is important to note that permits and licenses for treasure hunting must be issued by the National Museum of the Philippines and or other government agencies.

Where is the Golden Buddha now?

It is alleged that during the search, he also discovered skeletal remains dressed in uniforms of the Japanese military on a mountain in the Philippines. It is believed that Roxas found hundreds of crates in the cave that contained bars of gold and a golden Buddha. It is also believed that the golden Buddha was made of solid gold.

In addition to the gold bars, it is believed that Roxas removed the Buddha and took it to his home. The cave entrance was sealed, which allowed him to retrieve additional items later. Roxas estimated the statue to stand at roughly three feet tall and weigh more than two thousand pounds. To hoist it from the tunnel, nearly a dozen men used ropes and rolling logs. Afterward, they hid the Buddha in a closet at Roxas's house in Baguio City, 150 miles north of Manila.

As part of his quest for the treasure, Roxas met with three prospective buyers. A prospective buyer was, however, an associate of President Marcos, the dictator. Roxas's house was subsequently invaded by troops two months later, the story goes. During the invasion, everything was taken away.

What happened to Roger Roxas?

Roxas alleged that Marcos' secret service took him into custody after he consulted the media about the treasure being stolen. Roxas was tortured by the men who abducted him. The torture had two reasons. Roxas was prevented from speaking with the media and making claims against Marcos. Second, Roxas was supposed to show the secret service men where the rest of the treasure was located. Roxas escaped captivity through a bathroom window in the room he was being held in. Roxas picked the lock and escaped. He fled to the Philippines with his family.

Roxas and his family sued Marcos years later. It is believed that his estate was sued for a large sum. Based on his disposition and testimony to a jury, Roxas received over $20 billion. An appeals court reduced the amount to $13 million.

Did they Ever Find the Treasure in the Philippines?

According to the New York Post, Imelda Marcos, now over 92 years old, only paid just over $1 million of the amount Roxas is owned by her family. Several photographs have been spotted of the former first lady posing with a golden Buddha statue. Roxas, his relatives, and the statue have also been photographed during the 1990s. It is said that over 20 carats of nearly pure gold were used in the making of the Buddha. The Marcos regime may have discovered the treasure and melted it down, providing the family with its vast wealth as a result. The contents of the vault, however, are still being sought out by several parties, including the Philippine government.

Can you find Treasures?

Using a metal detector that looks for targets deep in the ground is one way to do this. Make sure you do your research and separate the fact from the fiction before you make your decision. You can find treasure by reading local stories, looking at treasure maps, researching in your library, and speaking to people with first-hand knowledge. The unfortunate thing is that rumors are likely to spread to make you think that you will never find the treasure. Putting some hard work into it and doing some research could lead to you finding a buried treasure if you put some effort into it. Many stories of deep treasures of gold are based on fact. We hope the learning lessons from the Yamashita Treasure help you in your quest for treasure!

Copyright 2021 Detector Electronics Corp. - Revised September 2022