Have you ever visited the CIA web site? Last week, I did it for the first time. I am not a big fan of spy stories, but if there are options, I tend to choose these kinds of stories. I have read a book about Jim Thompson, known as the Thai silk king and an OSS agent. I have also watched Spooks (called MI5 in Japan) and Homeland. I like stories focusing more on espionage operations or foreign affairs than on action, such as 24 or Mission Impossible. If you like these types of stories, I would recommend the “Freedom of Information Act Electronic Reading Room” on the CIA web site.
I coincidently found this web site. I read about a news article about Takashi Tachibana, a Japanese journalist who recently passed away. I did not know much about him, but it was reported that he was known for his research on the “Lockheed scandal”. I did not know much about the scandal. All I know was that several of the people involved died mysteriously, and the prime minister at the time, Kakuei Tanaka, eventually resigned. While I was reading the Wikipedia entry on the Lockheed scandal, I clicked on the link of the name that appeared on the page, Yoshio Kodama; from Kodama, I was eventually led to Ryoichi Sasagawa. Wikipedia said Sasagawa was a right-wing activist, a Class-A war criminal and a philanthropist, having donated an enormous amount of money to charity. I thought the man was quite interesting.
I googled his name in English and then the CIA site appeared. The CIA’s web site was listed higher in the search results. When I looked at the address, I thought, “Is cia.gov really that CIA?” Clicking the link, I read a document about Sasagawa. Even though what was written in the document was pretty much the same as that of Wikipedia, I was excited to actually see this kind of document with a “CONFIDENTIAL” stamp for the first time, not in spy dramas, but by myself. I tried to find some other interesting documents, but I became frustrated by the sheer amount of information. It was exactly like the online library of the University of London, so I was overwhelmed and gave up. Then the next day, I found another interesting page which was close to what I wanted. This page contained previously classified (declassified) major historical collections, from the Cold War to UFOs.
I thought that with these kinds of information available, people like history teachers or specialists could create a website organized by major historical events related to Japan and with links to the documents on the CIA web site. These could be ideal materials for students as well, allowing them to learn both history and English.