1933 letter reveals Japan’s Saipan military presence

When it comes to dismissing the truth about the Saipan presence and deaths of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan following their July 2, 1937 disappearance, establishment “historians” and authors are unanimous in their rejection of the so-called “Japanese capture theory,” and insist, for any number of false and specious reasons, that the fliers could never have been on Saipan.

Some of these self-proclaimed experts have gone so far as to state as fact that the Japanese military had not even established a presence on Saipan until the early 1940s, a claim so false as to be laughable.  We know, of course, that the doomed pair met their tragic ends on that Northern Marianas island, so far off the track of their original flight plan, and we have a mountain of evidence to prove it, much of it involving military personnel in the service of the Emperor.

A September 1933 letter (above) from Guam citizen Emilia M. Notley to retired Navy Cmdr. Albert Moritz, of Brooklyn, N.Y. gives us a rare glimpse into prewar Saipan.  Below is the missive Moritz sent to the Navy Department in Washington via the Commandant, Navy Yard, New York, with a copy of Notley’s letter, explaining that he had met Notley, who was married to an American and whose people were recognized as prominent, on Guam thirty-three years earlier, and he considered the letter to be of military value.”  (Click on either letter for larger view.)

Notley’s letter is prima facie evidence that not only were Japanese military personnel stationed on Saipan at least as early as 1933, but “aeroplanes and ships were arriving for the maneuvers,” reflecting a level of military activity on early 1930s Saipan rarely suggested in Western literature.  The hostility and suspicion Notley met from the authorities — the Japs, as she wrote, clearly soldiers or military police — leave no doubt that Fukiko Aoki’s insistence in her 1983 Japanese magazine story, “Was Amelia Earhart Executed?” that 1937 Saipan was the embodiment of peace: there were no soldiers, was utterly false.

Cmdr. Paul W. Bridwell, chief of the U.S. Naval Administration Unit on Saipan, and Jose Pangelinan, who told Fred Goerner he saw “the fliers” but not together, that the man had been held at the military police stockade and the woman kept at the hotel in Garapan.  Pangelinan said the pair had been buried together in an unmarked grave outside the cemetery south of Garapan.  The Japanese had said the two were fliers and spies.  (Photo by Fred Goerner, courtesy Lance Goerner.)

In fact, at one point during Goerner’s Saipan investigations, Cmdr. Paul Bridwell showed him documents “that prove the Japanese began construction of their Saipan Military facilities as early as 1929,” according to Goerner.   Marianas historian D. Colt Denfeld Ph.D., author of Hold the Marianas: The Japanese Defense of the Marianas (1997), wrote that a seaplane and naval base was built at Flores Point, on Tanapag Harbor in 1934.  This claim has an obvious corollary — the requisite presence of military personnel to supervise, support and complete those projects.

For much more on the many and varied lies pushed by the U.S. establishment and its media allies about the Earhart case, please see Chapter XV, “The Establishment’s Contempt for the Truth” see pages 293-321 of Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last. 

10 responses

  1. Like the proverbial ostrich, critics have their heads buried n the sand, refusing to believe what history has taught us. What a shame that these two flyers have never received the credit they are due. Those in power must have realized at the time that the Japanese were up to something, and was not for the commercial fishing trade.


  2. There is an archaelogical study of all the concrete structures built by the Japanese on the various Pacific Island. These were all built to specific plans, and took years to construct. Many of them still exist today and can be seen on Saipan, Guam, Tinian, and Rota in the Marianas.

    Unlike Saipan, Tinian, and Guam, the island of Rota was not taken by US forces. It was “bypassed” and therefor many of those structures are still somewhat intact – although showing the effects of US bombing and Naval gunfire.

    Here is a video made by someone exploring such concrete fortifications on Rota:


  3. You seem to be arguing well established facts. There were many observers during the period that foretold the coming of war with Japan, especially with what was happening in Korea and Manchuria. The militarization of Japan and the islands was just as big a concern, if not more, than the later rise of Nazis Germany for many in the “establishment”. That is the one big reason why the AE spy mission theory holds any weight whatsoever. Just because Aoki wrote some nonsense does not change the fact that the buildup was known at the time and is established history.


    1. “Established history”? What precisely is “established history”? If you mean that the Japanese military presence on Saipan in 1933 is “established history,” please cite your sources that make it such. I look forward to learning something new.



      1. Mike,

        There are numerous sources that are easy to find if you look. Wikipedia is succinct.


        Even the NY Times was commenting in 1933:

        You can also look at the planning for War Plan Orange. FDR even dispatched his buddy Astor on the yacht Nourmahal in 1937. And of course, the American and British signals people were listening to Jap signals from the islands. USNI and Foreign Policy have articles among others.

        Again, this is the main reason that AE’s flight as a spy mission has adherents. Why would you send someone on a spy mission if you did not suspect the militarization of the islands? While we may not have known the specifics of the build-up, we knew it was happening.



      2. Blake,

        Why you are trying so hard to make a point that you can’t come close to proving or supporting? Your sources say nothing about any Japanese military presence on Saipan in 1933. The closest reference is in the Wikipedia article (I’m not paying to read a NY Times article I’m certain does not touch on the point we’re discussing) and it states:

        “As a signatory of the 1922 Washington Naval Treaty, Japan agreed not to build new naval and air stations on the islands and it did not begin direct military preparations in the Mandate until the late 1930s. Nevertheless, the territory provided important coaling stations for steam-powered vessels and its possession gave an impetus to the Nanshin-ron doctrine of “southward advance”.

        Many years ago I corresponded with the well-known Saipan historian William Stewart, and he was severely challenged to describe the status of Japanese military on Saipan in 1937. Here’s what you can find on page 313 of Truth at Last:

        “From the time the Mariana Islands were mandated to Japan by the League of Nations in 1920 until the Saipan invasion of June 1944, Westerners were an increasingly rare sight on Saipan. Fukiko Aoki may have felt comfortable issuing a blanket statement about the lack of any military presence “no matter where they landed,” and she may have believed all was tranquil there, as that was always the official Japanese position. But Aoki was badly mistaken.

        “I hoped that William H. Stewart, former senior economist for the Northern Marianas and a career military-historical cartographer and foreign-service officer in the U.S. State Department, might be able to shed more light on the status of the Japanese military presence on Saipan in 1937. Stewart, retired and living in his native Charleston, West Virginia in 2007, was hard pressed to provide specific details of the Japanese military situation during the critical time, despite his broad knowledge of Saipan’s history. In the introduction to his 1993 book, Saipan in Flames: Operation Forager: The Turning Point in the Pacific War, Stewart captured the mood of foreboding that the Japanese policies of strict secrecy in the Marianas produced among American military observers:

        “In the years prior to December 7, 1941 Japan constructed an ocean fortress behind a wall of secrecy in violation of its diplomatic agreement with the League. The mandated islands, including the Northern Marianas, were forbidden territory to U.S. ships and American naval authorities were becoming increasingly apprehensive over Japan’s rearmament and the growing belligerency of its military, first overtly observed in the Panay incident.

        “World War II historians Philip A. Crowl and Samuel E. Morison wrote that while significant construction was undertaken on Saipan and other mandated islands during the mid- to late-1930s, the Japanese claimed that the projects were undertaken for “civilian use” and “economic development” purposes.

        “Morison described the “thick curtain of secrecy around the Marianas, Carolines and Marshalls” drawn by Japan after its withdrawal from the League of Nations in March 1935, creating great suspicions that “the secrecy covered a progressive militarization of the islands, and the suspicion was correct.”

        So don’t tell me or anyone else that a Japanese miliary presence on Saipan in 1933 is “established history.” No such history exists, or I wouldn’t have gone to the trouble to write about the Notley letter and Cmdr. Moritz’s response to it.


        Liked by 3 people

  4. Blake, Mike isn’t posting this to try and argue that no one knew about the build-up. I think he is providing evidence for the IJN being extremely security conscious at an early date that supports the claims that AE met her demise on Saipan. It gives a clear context for the claims.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for the comment. The letter does lend further support to the almost paranoia of the Japanese security efforts, but the claim that that paranoia has been covered up is something else. While Mike does have some ground to stand on when arguing the Japanese capture theory, to claim that “they” are hiding the truth about the nature of the Japanese occupation of the Mandate Islands is something else. Yes, the letter does support what many knew or suspected regarding the imperial Japanese expansion. As I mentioned it also lends some credence to those that believe AE was on a spy mission. If no one suspected the Japanese of doing anything to militarize the islands (including the building of dual use facilities such as ports and airfields), then why would the USN want AE to spy? If the islands were not a de facto exclusion zone, why would anybody need to spy? Why was Astor so fearful of approaching the islands in 1937 even with a letter from Prince Konoye? Anyone alive at the time was hearing the news reports of Japanese barbarism in China. We also know that Japanese generals in China were known to disregard directives from Tokyo (read Frank’s Tower of Skulls). This fact alone lends some support to Mike’s claim that AE was executed on Saipan as local commanders may well have ignored the public directive from Tokyo to help in the search and went in the opposite direction because of their obsession with security. Given all the factions within the Japanese military anything was possible at that time. Again, the Japanese made it well known that they did not want foreign ships or planes in their waters, and they had absolutely shown how ruthless they could be in that pursuit by their actions across their Empire. No one is covering up those facts.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. The more independent minded, media programs & radio shows that promote the *TRUTH at Last/Mike Campbell’s work; the less ignorant the general public will be, towards Amelia Earhart’s death, at the hands of the Japanese.

    Japan will be held accountable. It will take the American Public’s DEMAND & even PROTEST, for Japan’s explanation & admittance, to their failures & fraudulent media in their denial of capturing, America’s most beloved & *respected aviatress.

    It’s up to all of us, to get their attention, like never before!


    Liked by 1 person

  6. William H. Trail | Reply

    Greetings to All:

    Of course the flight that took AE and FN toward the Marshalls, and landing on Mili Atoll (against all orders per the Morgenthau Transcript), was at the U.S. Government’s behest. No doubt in my mind about that, but I would hardly characterize the nature of that flight as a “spy flight” or “spy mission.” Those terms are overwrought and sensational — more suited to a supermarket tabloid headline. I’m betting that the concept of the operation and goals to be achieved were much more subtle.

    All best,


    Liked by 1 person

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