The multi-trillion dollar WW2 cover-up

Posted: April 4, 2014 in Books in general, The Ninth Orphan, The Orphan Conspiracies
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Our international thriller The Ninth Orphan starts in the Philippines where Nine is sent on a mission to discover a treasure trove worth US$250 billion. It turns out this find is merely the leftovers of a much bigger treasure – a multi-trillion dollar booty, in fact.

Yamashita’s Gold, also known as Yamashita’s Treasure, is alleged stolen treasure squirreled away by the Japanese during their occupation of the Philippines in World War Two. Named after General Tomoyuki Yamashita, the war loot is said to have been hidden in caves and underground complexes throughout the islands of the Philippines.

General Yamashita

General Tomoyuki Yamashita.

The rumored treasures remain unconfirmed by the Japanese, Filipino and all other governments in Asia and the West to this very day. However, the majority of international investigators – Asian investigators included – believe Yamashita’s Gold exists, or existed, at least to some degree.

The investigators’ belief is supported by a Hawaii Supreme Court finding in 1998 and a subsequentUS Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal ruling, but more about those legal bombshells later in this chapter.


The rogue operative was here to trade the flash drive he’d brought with him from the Philippines. The flash drive’s contents specified the exact location of Yamashita’s Gold – a long lost treasure hoard Nine had located. The Ninth Orphan


Between Japanese army records, international court hearings, eyewitness accounts and treasure finds throughout the Philippines over the decades following WW2, there seems to be more than enough substance to build a case for the existence of Yamashita’s Gold. It ties in with a wider conspiracy about the war in the Pacific as well as the West’s involvement with Asian countries since WW2.

Some independent researchers have even suggested the legendary Asian treasure hoard is one of the primary reasons for the volatility in global currencies and economies in recent decades.


Riches without equal

Japan gained enormous wealth when it invaded China and a dozen or so other Asian countries during the WW2. Besides the Philippines and China, other countries and territories Japan occupied include Korea, Hong Kong, Guam, Taiwan, Portuguese Timor, Thailand, Burma and French Indochina – a large French colony now part of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam – as well as Singapore, Brunei and other British colonies in the lands now known as Malaysia and Indonesia.


Map of the Japanese Empire at its peak in 1942.

To say the Japanese Empire was vast would be an understatement. In terms of accumulated wealth and total population under its control, it was one of the largest empires in the history of the world.

Essentially, within the space of a few short years, Japan systematically stripped every conceivable wealth from the bulk of Asia. At the behest of Emperor Hirohito, the Imperial Army methodically pillaged everything of value they could find and almost literally left no stone unturned. This included ransacking museums and government treasuries, banks, royal palaces, temples, churches and mosques, and even the private homes of wealthy families.

The conquering Japanese were primarily after gold, a commodity that was not in short supply in Asia at that time. In fact, the elite ruling families in Asian countries had been collecting and storing gold – often hidden in ancestral tombs and the like – for up to 4000 years.

Japanese soldiers looted bullion by the truckload, and very little of the precious metal escaped their grasp. Accounts of them extracting gold fillings from the teeth of corpses is but one of many examples of their ruthless meticulousness.

In addition to these incalculable amounts of gold, gigantic quantities of diamonds, silver, platinum, precious gems, royal jewels and religious artifacts were also stolen. These colossal treasure troves were shipped to the Philippines in preparation for transportation to Japan. However, as the war in the Pacific intensified, the ever-increasing presence of Allied ships and US submarines made the transport of such treasure problematic for Japan. As a result, most of it had to be hidden in the Philippines.

That done, the treasure sites were booby-trapped by the Japanese to protect the riches they contained. The plan was to recover the assets after the war’s end. Of course, the Japanese assumed they’d be victorious over the Allied war machine.

Some researchers and treasure-hunters claim there are Imperial Japanese army maps in existence that reveal the whereabouts of these treasure sites. A series of the most important locations, known as Trillion Yen sites, contained gold and other precious metals valued during the war at one trillion yen. That’s 1,000,000,000,000 yen!

Some of the missing booty?

Taking inflation into account, one trillion yen in 1945 currency equates to approximately US$250 billion dollars, or a quarter of a trillion, per site in today’s money. That’s why we specify this figure in The Ninth Orphan as being the value of the treasure site Nine finds on behalf of his shadowy employers.


A trillion yen site?


Initially, there were dozens of Trillion Yen sites in the Philippines, but Naylor had confirmed that after the waves of bounty hunters – first the Americans under General MacArthur, then Marcos decades later – only one such site remained. Despite many attempts to find the location, it had remained undiscovered until Nine found it. The crafty orphan had somehow uncovered the elusive site’s location in the province of Benguet.The Ninth Orphan


The British connection

The bulk of Asia’s wealth wasn’t the only treasure that contributed to Yamashita’s booty. Great Britain inadvertently contributed also.

Britain’s little known link with the treasure dates all the way back to Hitler’s rise in the 1930’s. Fearing Germany was going to invade the UK, it’s believed Britain shipped the bulk of its gold reserves – including the Royal Family’s massive stockpile – to Singapore, which was under British rule at the time. When Singapore abruptly fell to the Japanese in 1942, Britain lost almost all its gold supplies overnight.

It has been asserted that Britain’s lost bullion never made it to Japan either and was instead buried in the Philippines along with the treasures from all the other Asian countries.


Suppressing the truth

Several Yamashita investigators have estimated that Japan’s total war plunder. amounted to more than 300,000 tons of gold and other treasures. Nobody knows what proportion was gold, but it’s worth noting the estimated total of the entire world’s gold officially mined throughout human history is only 174,100 tons.

That puts Yamashita’s Gold into perspective; it amounted to a massive percentage of the world’s total (mined) gold reserves.

One school of thought says leading nations conspired to withhold this plundered gold from the global marketplace after WW2. Those who subscribe to this theory argue that if ever that much gold flooded the market, or was even acknowledged, it would completely devalue gold overnight. Not to mention destabilize various currencies.

Whatever the case, it’s a fact that no economist would argue that a gold discovery of this magnitude would have virtually destroyed the value of monetary gold, or gold held by governing authorities as a financial asset, worldwide. Remember, up until 1971, a gold standard existed in most countries, including America. This meant most nations’ currencies were based on, or pegged to, a fixed quantity of gold.

US Presidential candidate William McKinley championed the gold standard.

As the US Government was the biggest holder of monetary gold, acknowledging the existence of Yamashita’s Gold would have seriously devalued America’s reserves and potentially its standing as the dominant economy.

If the truth about the finds in the Philippines had been publicly acknowledged, it would also have paved the way for substantial claims from those Asian countries the gold and other treasures originally belonged to. This would have promoted more rapid economic growth in the likes of China, Taiwan, Korea and Thailand than they experienced in the decades following WW2.

Many believe the US and other Western powers, including Britain and Germany, conspired to keep the existence of Yamashita’s Gold hush-hush while, at the same time, those powers used the gold to further their own agendas. It’s suspected those agendas include funding black ops to overthrow various governments and tampering with financial markets.

It is said every British Prime Minister and every US President since 1945 have known about the treasure hoard and have shaped their foreign policies around it.

Major financial institutions, including some of the world’s top banks, as well as international funding organizations are also said to be part of this conspiracy to suppress the truth about the existence of Yamashita’s Gold.

Many oil researchers have postulated that oil companies operate in much the same way. As George C. Scott’s character says to Marlon Brando’s character in the 1980 oil-themed movie The Formula: “You’re not in the oil business. You’re in the oil shortage business.”

That same formula (creating the illusion of a shortage) can equally apply to the devious management of precious metal and diamond markets. The 2006 political thriller film Blood Diamond starring Leonardo DiCaprio also touched on this issue.


Few knew more about Yamashita’s Gold than Naylor did. His own father had served in the Philippines under General MacArthur and, at the end of World War Two, had witnessed the earliest discoveries of Japan’s massive plunder. Naylor had also confirmed that the former president of the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos, had obtained much of his personal fortune from later discoveries. The Ninth Orphan


I shall return (for the gold)

In 1942, US General Douglas MacArthur was forced to leave the Philippines as the nation was overrun by Japanese. MacArthur told journalists, “I shall return.”

MacArthur in khaki trousers and open necked shirt with five-star-rank badges on the collar. He is wearing his field marshal's cap and smoking a corncob pipe.

General MacArthur pictured in WW2 Manila.

Over 10,000 American troops stationed in the Pacific had already surrendered to the Japanese and MacArthur had been left without any reinforcements. Fearing for his general’s safety, President Roosevelt had ordered him to leave the Philippines.

MacArthur’s famous words I shall return meant a lot to the Filipino people who clung to the hope they’d eventually reclaim their freedom.

In October, 1944, after leading a series of strategically brilliant air and sea attacks against Japanese forces, General MacArthur stood on Philippine soil once more. “I have returned,” he told emotional Filipinos who had not forgotten his promise.

A group of men wading ashore. With General MacArthur is Philippine President Sergio Osmena and other US and Philippine Generals.

“I have returned.” – General MacArthur.

Unfortunately, like most fairy tales spun during wartime, the true motivations in MacArthur’s case were probably not quite as straightforward or innocent as they appeared to be.

He did return after leading the Allies to defeat the Japanese and kick them out of the Philippines. However, MacArthur may have been so keen to return to collect the riches he knew the Japanese had concealed all over the rugged island nation.

It is said that Charles Willoughby, the general’s Chief of Intelligence, had earlier in the war found evidence of the vast treasures buried throughout the Philippines.According to this theory, Willoughby and his staff had confirmed there were almost 200 Yamashita sites throughout the Philippines, including the all-important Trillion Yen sites.

Various independent researchers have concluded that MacArthur worked closely with the CIA immediately after WW2. Their goal: to locate and retrieve as many of the Yamashita treasure hoards as possible.

Among those independent researchers are prolific authors Sterling Seagrave and Peggy Seagrave who wrote in their 2003 book Gold Warriors: America’s Secret Recovery of Yamashita’s Gold that General MacArthur “used war loot to create a trust fund for Hirohito at Sanwa Bank” and “also set up the secret M-Fund”.

‘Gold Warriors’ investigates Yamashita’s Gold.

The Seagraves go into convincing detail about the evidence they apparently uncovered, proving MacArthur’s post-WW2 success in secretly recovering the bulk of Yamashita’s Gold for America. The authors also mention MacArthur’s right-hand man Charles Willoughby who they say“paid war criminals to rewrite history and manipulate Japan’s government,” immediately after the war as part of the covert operation. 


The Marcos Family

Imelda Marcos has said repeatedly over the years that her deceased husband and former President of the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos, gained much of his considerable personal fortune by looting riches from various Yamashita treasure locations.

For example, Manila-based newspaper The Bulletin ran an article on February 3, 1992, with the headline Marcos widow claims wealth due to yamashita treasure. The article states “Imelda Marcos today claimed for the first time the basis of her late husband’s wealth was Japanese and other gold he found starting at the end of World War II.”

Imelda told the newspaper, “From what I heard and I was told, the late President Marcos went to the United States in 1945 to sell some of the gold.”

Ferdinand Marcos with wife Imelda.

In addition to Imelda’s statements, numerous investigators believe there was a joint venture between President Marcos and the US intelligence community who, it seems, had developed gold rush fever. It has been claimed Marcos arranged for CIA aircraft and even US Navy warships to transport the bullion into a worldwide network of offshore banks in various tax havens.

After Ferdinand Marcos was overthrown in 1986, the Philippine Government began an enquiry into Marcos’ activities undertaken during his term in power. Known as Operation Big Bird, its goal was to recover the rumored tens of billions in secret assets of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, which apparently included scores of Swiss bank accounts.

On April 7, 2013, beneath the headline Secret accounts, Manila’s The Philippine Star newspaper reported that Operation Big Bird failed to uncover the Marcos billions as they were too creatively stashed away in Swiss bank accounts. The Marcos’s had used a combination of pseudonyms and nameless, number-only Swiss accounts to make their fortune almost impossible to uncover.

The Philippine Star article also mentioned that the couple’s daughter, Imee Marcos, was embroiled in a new tax haven scandal.

Imee Marcos - August 2013.jpg

Imee Marcos held secret accounts.

Ongoing investigations showed she held “secret accounts” in the British Virgin Islands, a tax haven known for ironclad bank secrecy. The article went on to speculate whether Imee’s accounts were a residue of her parents’ controversial empire.


 The Roxas Buddhas

Probably the single biggest piece of evidence to support the existence of the rumored Yamashita’s treasure was a lawsuit filed in a Hawaiian state court in 1988. It involved Filipino treasure hunter Rogelio Roxas and the former Philippine president, Ferdinand Marcos. The lawsuit was for theft and human rights abuses, and named Marcos and his wife Imelda as the perpetrators.

In 1961, Roxas claimed to have met a former member of the Japanese Imperial Army who showed him maps revealing the location of a major treasure site. He also said he met another Japanese man who worked as General Yamashita’s interpreter and had seen a chamber full of bullion, including numerous gold Buddha statues.

Armed with maps and eyewitness accounts, Roxas began searching in earnest for the site.

Ten years later, in 1971, Roxas claimed to have discovered the underground chamber on the outskirts of Baguio City. Inside it, he found a 3-foot tall gold Buddha, which weighed approximately 1000 kilograms, and rows of staked boxes full of bullion. Roxas reportedly took one box, which was said to contain 24 solid gold bars from the chamber, as well as the gold Buddha and hid them in his home.

View upon residential area of Baguio City, Benguet, Luzon Island, Philippines

Baguio City…alleged site of some of Yamashita’s treasure.

Roxas also claimed that President Marcos soon heard about his discovery and ordered him to be arrested and beaten. The booty he’d recovered, along with all the remaining contents of the underground chamber, was confiscated for Marcos’ personal possession.

After Roxas protested vocally and spoke about his ill treatment to journalists, Marcos incarcerated Roxas for over a year. Upon release, Roxas laid low until Marcos was stripped of his presidency and kicked out of the Philippines in 1986. Then, in 1988, Roxas filed the lawsuit against Marcos and his wife seeking damages for the human rights abuses and the theft of his Yamashita discovery.

Befitting an international intrigue novel, Roxas died on the eve of trial and Ferdinand Marcos, who by then was living in exile in Hawaii, also passed away the following year.

Some researchers believe Roxas was murdered. This theory is supported by the research of Yamashita experts Sterling Seagrave and Peggy Seagrave in their aforementioned book Gold Warriors: America’s Secret Recovery of Yamashita’s Gold, in which they state that Roxas did indeed discover a “solid gold Buddha looted from Burma” and, “after President Marcos stole it”, that “Roxas was tortured and murdered to silence him”.

However, in a twist, Roxas was not completely silenced. Shortly before dying he gave a disposition testimony that was used as evidence in the ensuing court case.

In 1996, the Roxas estate received what was at that point the largest judgment ever awarded – US$22 billion. The inclusion of added interest boosted that amount to US$40.5 billion. Then, in 1998, the Hawaii Supreme Court reversed the damages award even though it held there was sufficient evidence to support the jury’s finding that Roxas had indeed found the treasure and that Marcos had seized it.

However, the court also held that the award for the chamber-full of gold was too speculative as there was no evidence of either quantity or quality. Instead, the court ordered a new hearing based solely on what Roxas had removed from the underground chamber, which were just the single golden Buddha and the box of gold bars.

After more protracted legal proceedings, the Roxas estate finally obtained a closing judgment against the now widowed Imelda Marcos. Roxas’ estate obtained a US$6 million judgment regarding the claim for human rights abuse.

That lawsuit ultimately concluded that Roxas had found the treasures he said he had and that it was likely part of the legendary Yamashita’s Gold. The complex case was concluded by the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal summarizing the allegations leading to Roxas’ final judgment as follows: “The Yamashita Treasure was found by Roxas and stolen from Roxas by Marcos’ men.”

This was astonishing considering that neither the US Government nor any other government had ever acknowledged the existence of the Yamashita treasure hoard.


Besides The Ninth Orphan, there have been various references to Yamashita’s Gold in popular culture over the years. In 1993, an episode of the American TV show Unsolved Mysteries screened in the US, questioning what happened to the treasures amassed by General Yamashita; international bestselling author Clive Cussler wrote about Yamashita’s Gold in his 1990 adventure novel Dragon; the treasure hoard also features heavily in the 2013 horror movie Dead Mine, which is primarily set in abandoned Japanese military bunkers in South-East Asia.

Yamashita the tiger's treasure.jpg

‘Yamashita: The Tiger’s Treasure’ was an award-winning film.

Treasure hunters from around the world continue to flock to the Philippines each year to find what remains of the Yamashita hoard. Some of them include descendants of Japanese WW2 veterans who served in the Philippines. There have also been reports of Japanese citizens purchasing land throughout the country in places they believe the treasures are still buried.

But, of course, we are dramatists, not historians. Therefore, we could be totally wrong about everything we’ve written on Yamashita’s Gold. In which case, you would be advised to cancel that treasure-hunting expedition you’ve booked for the summer and stick to playing the lottery!


Read more in The Orphan Conspiracies: 29 Conspiracy Theories from The Orphan Trilogy – available now via Amazon at:

A book that’s for the common people.


Happy reading! –James & Lance




  1. Anonymous says:

    27 years ago before my father left he us, he has this words left to me.try your best to retrieved some of those treasure sites where i was with Totsan(inami)who supervised the entombment of some ofthose warbooties in southern mindanao spescially Davao area,at first i protested because it is not easy and it involves a lot of money which we don”t have but he said there are small ones or shallow once for that reason i found myself searching themountain ranges of Sierra Madre,in Isabela,cagayan valley,Aurora provinces and still up to the present follwing those leads or infos and strongly believe one of this days some of those ilusive,curse treasures of gold bars,diamonds would fall into my lap and help a lot of suffering humanity not only filipinos..

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