Above left: General Tomoyuki Yamashita, 'The Tiger of Malaya' (November 8, 1885 - February 23, 1946)
Yamashita's gold is the collective name given to the gold, platinum, jewellery and other precious items stolen by the forces of Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita. Many treasure hunters believe Yamashita's loot is still concealed somewhere in the Philippines.
General Tomoyuki Yamashita, is said to have ordered the concealment of the treasure as he retreated from US forces, breaking the treasure, said to have been carried on several trucks, into many smaller stashes that were hidden along the line of his retreat on the island Luzon. The bulk of the stashes are said to be concentrated in the mountainous area where Yamashita made his last stand against the invading US troops, before his eventual surrender on September 2nd, 1945.
The gold and other valuables were stolen from East and Southeast Asia by Japanese forces during World War II and supposedly hidden in the Philippines. Many people believe the reports of hidden treasure to be an urban legend, but the treasure stories do have supporters among some respected researchers and historians. There are still many treasure hunters who comb the Philippine countryside in search of the treasure.
Above: General Tomoyuki Yamashita, 'The Tiger of Malaya,' at his trial for war crimes. He was executed at Los Banos Prison Camp in Manila on February 23, 1946.
The 'gold' is believed to have been anything from gold bullion to religious statues. The theory is that the treasure from Asia was to finance Japan's war effort. The treasure had to be transported from the continent back to Japan, via the sea. Most of the stolen treasure from South East Asia was first shipped to the port of Singapore, where it was then relayed to the Philippines. From the Philippines, it was intended, the treasure would be shipped to the Japanese home islands.
However, as the Pacific War progressed, Allied submarines and aircraft took a heavy toll on Japan's shipping. The Japanese then took the treasure and hid it in caves and underground complexes throughout the Philippines, hoping to recover it after the war was over. However, many of those who knew of the locations of the loot were either executed or incarcerated for war crimes, including Yamashita. Thus, the whereabouts of the treasure were lost. Many years later, Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos claimed to have discovered the location of the treasure, and to have deposited it in secret bank accounts. These hoards are known collectively as the 'Marcos gold'. There is, however, a counter-allegation that Marcos invented the story, as a cover for his thefts from the Filipino national treasury.
Beware the Philippines 'Treasure Industry'
A large and profitable 'treasure industry' exists in many areas of the Philippines, these scams range from the selling of bogus 'Treasure Maps' to gullible tourists, to elaborate confidence tricks, 'long cons', that can relieve would be investors of large sums of money.
Another scam relates to 'treasure symbols'. The soldiers who concealed Yamashita's treasure supposedly marked trees and rocks with symbols, directions or indicators to a hoard's location, so that they could recover the treasure at a later date. Be very skeptical of anyone claiming to be able to interpret these 'treasure symbols', or anyone selling information about them.
American tourists and business people visiting the Philippines seem to be the primary target of the scammers.
Be very wary of anyone approaching you with offers of an 'investment opportunity' in treasure hunting operations anywhere in the world, but be doubly careful when it relates to the Philippines, if it sounds to good to be true, then it almost certainly is.