Friday, November 5, 2010
The Japanese military police unit created in 1881, which by the outbreak of World War II had acquired a ruthless reputation and responsibility for counterintelligence. Kempe’tai personnel were attached to all military commands and routinely resorted to torture during the interrogation of prisoners. On the mainland of Japan, the ubiquitous Kempe’tai maintained a watch on all foreigners. Its radio detection equipment first identified the existence of an illicit transmitter broadcasting in Tokyo, which led Inspector Hideo Ohashi to the GRU agent Richard Sorge in October 1941. The subsequent painstaking investigation led to more than 40 arrests and was a textbook example of a counterespionage investigation. The organization, which grew to 75,000 men, of whom a third were officers, was disbanded after Japan’s surrender in August 1945.