The History Channel Gets A History Lesson


Blogger discredits claim Amelia Earhart was taken prisoner by Japan

Claims made in a US documentary that the pioneering aviator Amelia Earhart crash-landed on the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean and was taken prisoner by the Japanese appear to have been proved false by a photograph unearthed in a travel book.

The History Channel documentary, Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence, which aired in the US on Sunday, made the claim that the American and her navigator, Fred Noonan, ended up in Japanese custody based on a photograph discovered in the US national archives that purported to show them standing at a harbour on one of the islands.

The film said the image “may hold the key to solving one of history’s all-time greatest mysteries” and suggested it disproved the widely accepted theory that Earhart and Noonan disappeared over the western Pacific on 2 July 1937 near the end of their attempt at a history-making flight around the world.

But serious doubts now surround the film’s premise after a Tokyo-based blogger unearthed the same photograph in the archives of the National Diet Library, Japan’s national library.

The image was part of a Japanese-language travelogue about the South Seas that was published almost two years before Earhart disappeared. Page 113 states the book was published in Japanese-held Palau on 10 October 1935.

The crack investigators never tried to figure out where the photo came from. It was unlikely from the outset that the Japanese would allow someone with a camera near two civilian prisoners who disappeared over the Pacific. The Japanese would want to keep their abduction pretty quiet, even if they thought that the civilians might be spies. Additionally, that photo had to come from a published source even if US military intelligence was using it for pre invasion planning.

Kota Yamano, a military history blogger who unearthed the Japanese photograph, said it took him just 30 minutes to effectively debunk the documentary’s central claim.

Nice work. Maybe the Fake History Channel should have hired you to do the show. Of course, it wouldn’t be much of a show after you pointed to the book and said, “How could this photo show people who disappeared if it was taken two years before they disappeared?”

Or, この写真は、消えた2年前に失踪した人をどのように示していますか? in Japanese.

The documentary, hosted by former FBI executive assistant director Shawn Henry, also alleges a cover-up, claiming that the US government knew of her whereabouts but did nothing to rescue her.

Doesn’t do a whole lot to polish the image of the FBI as the world’s top investigative agency, does it?

Henry said: “She may very well be the first casualty of world war two.”

I think there are a lot of Chinese, Vietnamese, Koreans, and others who might disagree. But, of course we have to decide when World War II actually started. Sure, the Germans invaded Poland in September 1939, but the Italians were up to mischief in Ethiopia in 1935 and the Japanese had been killing people for much of 1937 before Earhart disappeared.

So much for that theory, but I’m sure there will be another one to come along soon.

I expect that the Fake History Channel will soon fall back to it’s default answer.

Aliens. Time traveling aliens at that.

I’m going place this under the “History” category, because I don’t have a “Fake History” category.



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After a long career as a field EMS provider, I'm now doing all that back office stuff I used to laugh at. Life is full of ironies, isn't it? I still live in the Northeast corner of the United States, although I hope to change that to another part of the country more in tune with my values and beliefs. I still write about EMS, but I'm adding more and more non EMS subject matter. Thanks for visiting.