Japan burnt 8,000 classified documents before WWII-end
Tokyo: Japan's Foreign Ministry burnt about 8,000 files of highly-classified documents shortly before the nation's surrender in World War II on August 15, 1945, according to Japanese diplomatic records declassified on Thursday.
It is rare for the destruction of such records by Japanese authorities to be clearly stated in public documents.
In early November in 1945, the Allied Forces' General Headquarters began questioning senior ministry officials on the condition of the confidential materials.
Minutes of the senior officials' testimonies showed that the ministry started organising classified documents in late June, 1945, "to respond to a possible US military landing operation" on the Japanese mainland.
Between late July and early August that year, the ministry's archives division burned documents considered "relatively new and highly classified.
"The ministry's telegram division disposed of the papers around August 10-15 in 1945 and told the GHQ later that about 8,000 files of classified documents were burned immediately before Japan's surrender."
Asked whether the papers were destroyed by order of bosses, the officials said the ministry held meetings several times to discuss how to handle diplomatic records.
The then vice foreign minister attended one of those meetings, the minutes showed.
The officials also said the ministry did not compile a list of classified documents destroyed and that the materials were burned near a warehouse where they had been stored.
Other records showed that the ministry lost some 20,000 files of documents in a fire caused by an air raid in May 1945.
Documents regarded as less confidential, such as diplomatic records in the Meiji Era (1868-1912), were moved to places away from Tokyo in 1944, including a farm house in Saitama Prefecture, north of the capital. (Kyodo)