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Intelligence Gathering and Tech

Akagi Type 96 Model 4.jpg
Imperial Japanese Navy fighter pilots Masao Asai (left) and Masao Sato (right) in front of a Type 96 Model 4 fighter on the aircraft carrier Akagi during the Sino-Japanese war.

My latest at the Diplomat distills Justin Pyke’s terrific series on Western efforts to gather intel on interwar Japanese aviation developments. Read my piece, but also read the three part original at From Balloons to Drones…

Pyke dismisses the older interpretation of Western unpreparedness, which posited that racist American attitudes towards Japan had resulted in a fatal underestimation of Japanese capabilities. Instead, Pyke argues that Japanese counter-intelligence activities, along with a general closing of Japanese society, made it much more difficult for Americans to accurately assess the capabilities of the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) and Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN). Consequently, as the Japanese government and military tightened control over information on aviation, the value supplied by U.S. intelligence efforts declined.

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