Lodge 640 History [07]

The Rise of Anti-Masonry

On 29 December 1898, referring to his earlier meetings with the Foreign Minister of Japan, Bro. Stone (District Grand Master for the United Grand Lodge of England) stated:

I had been assured that the Government, from all it had heard on the subject, knew nothing but good of Freemasonry, and looked upon it with friendly eyes. Some few years later I was given the same assurance. These, to my mind, were perfectly satisfactory.

Twenty years later this friendly view of Freemasonry was replaced by one far less amicable.

From 1920 onwards anti-Masonic articles began to appear in the Japanese media, claiming that Freemasonry was part of a Zionist plot to rule the world. One theory for this relatively sudden appearance of anti-Masonic, anti-Semitic sentiment is that Japanese prisoners of war held captive in Siberia returned with copies of the notorious Protocols of the Elders of Zion.* The conspiracy theories contained in the Protocols found a receptive audience among nationalistic academics such as Jiro Imai and army officials such as Hisaichi Terauchi and Nobutaka Shioten. Shioten in particular took up the anti-Masonic cause with fervour, writing numerous books and articles and giving whistle-stop lecture tours of Japan.

The Japanese authorities became increasingly suspicious of Freemasonry and other foreign, and hence possibly subversive, organizations such as the Rotary Club and the Boy Scouts.

After the outbreak of the Pacific War, Freemasonry was banned and Freemasons were threatened with violence if they did not leave the country. Lodges were raided and furniture and regalia confiscated. Much of the furniture and fittings made its way into private hands, whilst the regalia was exhibited in department stores as evidence of dark Masonic secrets.

Masons who chose not leave Japan were subject to police harassment. Many were taken away for interrogation and subject to beatings and torture. [See Bro Apcar's testimony]

The end of the Pacific War brought an abrupt end to official anti-Masonry. Indeed, many Japanese diplomats and politicians rushed to join the Fraternity when it became apparent that many of the most senior GHQ officials, including General MacArthur, were themselves Freemasons.

* David G. Goodman and Masanori Miyazawa, Jews in the Japanese Mind.