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The Japanese expedition to Tibet was an intelligence mission undertaken by Jinzō Nomoto (野本 甚蔵 Nomoto Jinzō?) in Tibet in 1939.

Background[edit | edit source]

The Japanese during the 1918-1922 period began realizing secret moves in the Xinjiang area; the Genyosha agents operated undercover in Hami and other cities to gain information about the Soviets in Central Asia.

During the 1930s the Imperial Intelligence Services was interested in knowing in depth about Tibet and Xinjiang. In the Kantogun headquarters a series of undercover operations were organized and Jinzō Nomoto and others were sent on such missions. By coincidence Germany also sent expeditions to the same areas at around the same time.

Expedition[edit | edit source]

In 1935, Jinzō Nomoto, from Kagoshima, was sent to Manchukuo and was posted to an Intelligence unit on Central Asian topics of the Japanese Kantogun Army as a Mongolian language research student.

In May 1939, during the Second Sino-Japanese War, Nomoto secretly entered Tibet by disguising himself as a Mongolian and accompanying a Tibetan monk and began an 18-month intelligence-gathering mission. He collected information about the social conditions, culture, religion and local policy of the natives by personal interviews with local residents; this was submitted mainly to the Intelligence Army Bureau. He left the area in October 1940.

The Muslim Chinese (Dungan) General Ma Bufang was also an obstruction to Japanese agents trying to contact the Tibetans and he was called an "adversary" by a Japanese agent.[1]

Aftermath[edit | edit source]

Other agents continued secret moves in the area by meeting local Afghan tribesmen to organize infiltrations, sabotage and disturbances in British India on the North West Frontier in case of a Japanese invasion of India. Another alleged interest in the Tibet area was the recovery of all information related to ancient powers related in Tibetan legends.

Later, Jinzō Nomoto composed his memoirs on his experiences in his Tibetan mission during the war under the title of Tibet Underground 1939.[2]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

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