Dear Mr. Harding,
Thank you for posting your question on History Hub!
We searched the National Archives Catalog and located 20 file units and 2 items relating to Japanese espionage in the 1930-1939 and 1940-1949 time periods. Please note that some of the records have been digitized and may be viewed online using the Catalog. For access to the non-digitized records, please contact the unit listed in the description.
In particular, you may want to review the series titled Secret and Confidential Reports of Naval Attaches, 1/1940-ca. 7/1946 in the Records of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (Record Group 38) that includes the file units E-8-A 11528 Japanese Espionage, E-8-a 11528 Japanese Espionage Folder 1, and E-8-a 11528 Japanese Espionage Folder 2. In addition, you may want to look into records of the Office of Naval Intelligence located in Record Group 38 including the following series of records:
- Central Administrative Correspondence, 1930-1948
- Classified Administrative Correspondence, ca. 1921-1947
- Intelligence Reports Concerning Japan and Far East Asia, 1941-1947
- Records Relating to Counter-Intelligence Against Japan, 1939-1946
For access to these five series and two file units, please contact the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
There are three series of correspondence of the Office of Naval Intelligence that might be of interest to you in Record Group 38:
- Formerly Security Classified General Correspondence, 1929-1943
- Formerly Security Classified Administrative Correspondence, 1927-1944
- Security Classified Subject Case Files, ca. 1913-1935
We also suggest reviewing records located in the series titled Area Files, ca. 1924-ca.1946 and Subject Files, ca. 1924-ca. 1946 in the Naval Records Collection of the Office of Naval Records and Library (Record Group 45) that may contain records relevant to your research. For access to these five series, please contact the National Archives at Washington, DC - Textual Reference (RDT1) via email at Archives1reference@nara.gov
Further, you may wish to look into the records located in the series titled Security Classified Correspondence and Reports of the War Department. Military Intelligence Division in the Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs (Record Group 165). Perhaps the best way to locate relevant files in that series would be to consult an index located in the series titled Security Classified Subject Index, 1917-1941 and if you know the name of the Japanese-American person who worked with U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials Security Classified Personal Name Index, 1917-1941. Please note that the latter index has been digitized and may be viewed online using the Catalog. These indexes will provide the file number(s) that will allow you to access the appropriate records in the Security Classified Correspondence and Reports. Without the file number, it's impossible to access those records. For more information, please contact RDT2.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to guidance received from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), NARA has adjusted its normal operations to balance the need of completing its mission-critical work while also adhering to the recommended social distancing for the safety of NARA staff. As a result of this re-prioritization of activities, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgement as well as a substantive response to your reference request from NARA units. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.
In addition, there may be files of interest to your research located in the Records of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) (Record Group 65) under Classification 100 (Domestic Security) or Classification 105 (Foreign Counterintelligence) file particularly for the West Coast and Hawaii field offices. RDT2 has custody of nearly 70,000 cubic feet of investigatory case files of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, covering records created and maintained from roughly 1896 to 2001. While the National Archives has accessioned these Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) records, they are not easily searchable.
Before a search is conducted for records pertaining to your topic, first you must submit a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request directly to the FBI requesting one of two items: 1) Responsive files that remain in their (FBI’s) custody, or 2) File designations (case file numbers) for records transferred to the National Archives. Please review https://www.fbi.gov/services/information-management/foipa for more information or submit your request at https://efoia.fbi.gov/#home.
If the FBI provides you with file designations for records transferred to the National Archives, you should then submit a FOIA to NARA so that we may conduct a search. Please note that even if the records are in NARA’s custody, they may not be available for immediate public use. The FBI case files are arranged by case number; they are not name or subject searchable. With the case numbers, we are then able to verify if a file is in our custody and available for access. FBI case file designators typically are in the form of ##-AA-####. This is the number that NARA requires to access FBI records.
Nearly 25% of our FBI holdings are classified; a total of 78% of Record Group 65 series have access restrictions. Once you have the file designations provided by the FBI, please provide that information to NARA’s Special Access and FOIA office so that we may review the material. You may email your request to email@example.com.
We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your research!