John David Provoo,traitor?

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Peter H
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John David Provoo,traitor?

Postby Peter H » 30 Jun 2008 10:16

According to Gavan Daws:

..Provoo was an American enlisted man on Corregidor.He had been a student of Japanese language and culture before the war.When Corregidor surrended,out came Provoo in a kimono,speaking Japanese:and within days he was responsible for the killing of an American officer..


More here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_David_Provoo

Dan W.
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Re: John David Provoo,traitor?

Postby Dan W. » 04 Jul 2008 16:16

Kind of odd that the defense got Jonathan Wainwright to testify, especially since he had never met Provoo. He must have been there simply to relate his own experiences and use his stature to prop up the experiences of Provoo. I dont know how many other POW's were tried after the war for treason but I would imagine the number is very small.

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Re: John David Provoo,traitor?

Postby Razzbar » 13 Jul 2008 18:08

I knew John Provoo in his later years when he lived near Pahoa, Hawaii. He was a complex, often contradictory man. He had a small 'ashram' near town and lived as a monk/priest with a few others. He was definitely serious about Buddhism, and was known to the community as Bishop Nichijo Shaka. As far as his religious duties were concerned, when he put on his priest's robes (the 'kimono' refered to by others) he carried considerable authority among those of his denomination (Nichiren Buddhism).

His telling of the story of the Phillipines and later as a POW in Japan is one of someone who was faced with being in an exceptional position due to his religious ranking and inside knowledge of the enemy culture. I believe that probably he was motivated to a large extent to save himself, but that wasn't all of it. I've heard him tell of specific occasions where he was able to save someone's head by interrupting in Japanese. It's one of those "what are you going to do" kind of situations. I'm sure that he felt that he could do more good for his fellow American (and other nationalities) soldiers by getting close to the Japanese, and that he was obligated to do so. Had he not exersized his knowledge and authority, he would have been just another number.

I knew him well enough to see what was in his heart in regards to national loyalties, and it was quite normal for him to express some amused contempt for Japanese culture. He also had deep interest in American culture and history. His "mission" as a Buddhist priest was to teach Buddhism to Americans, as an American, using his knowledge of both cultures to relate the dharma to Americans.

He certainly wasn't the perfect image of a reserved Buddhist monk, however. He liked his brandy, and often went on binges. He was sometimes verbally abusive with some of his students.

I think the best way to view his experiences in the PI is to think of it as a "Rashomon" incident. In the movie by that name, a crime is recreated from the viewpoint of various actors. Keep in mind that his trial happened around the same time that Eva Toguri(sp?) was being tried as "Tokyo Rose". She was convicted, served time, and later given a full pardon, when the truth emerged -- that she was doing the best she could for her country, **given the circumstances**. Provoo and Toguri actually did cross paths later in the war, and Provoo helped smuggle the Emperor's surrender record to the radio station. The emotional state of America had as much to do with Provoo's case as did any actual facts.

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Re: John David Provoo,traitor?

Postby Dan W. » 13 Jul 2008 18:35

Interesting story. Considering this only a few years ahead of the end of segregation in the military, to say nothing of Japanese-Americans being rounded up and sent to detention camps, and was happening during the height of the Red scare, it's hard to ever seriously consider the charges that were leveled against someone like this for being a "traitor". Just surviving Japanese captivity was a ruthless affair, and many stronger POW's preyed on weaker ones. From Andersonville to Cabanatuan it changed little over the years.

The bigger question will always be what the person did to warrant such scrutiny in the first place. Clearly charges like these were reserved for high profile types only

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Peter H
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Re: John David Provoo,traitor?

Postby Peter H » 14 Jul 2008 11:16

Other POWs investigated, for assisting in Japanese broadcasts, but never brought to trial.

Captain Wallace Ince

Lieutenant Norman Reyes.

Both American officers captured at Corregidor.They had ran "The Voice of Freedom" broadcasts from Corregidor.This was a "freedom broadcast station" supposedly run by Filipinos but really American in origin.

http://www.soulcast.com/post/show/93948 ... -broadcast

http://corregidor.org/chs_signals/sigs.htm


The American civilian Mark Lewis Streeter who had been captured at Wake.


The Australian civilian John Holland.


The Australian Charles Cousens:

http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A130571b.htm

Following the Japanese surrender, Cousens was interrogated and brought home to Sydney under arrest. Because no Commonwealth legislation covered treasonable acts committed abroad, he was charged in New South Wales under the English statute, 25 Edw.III (1351). The gravest crime of all, treason was a capital offence. A magistrate's inquiry began in Sydney on 20 August 1946. Although Cousens had his critics, support for him firmed with the news that the Crown was depending heavily on the evidence of two Japanese who had worked with him. He was committed for trial, but the State's attorney-general C. E. Martin dropped the charge on 6 November.

Commonwealth legal and military authorities then considered court-martialling Cousens, only to reject the plan lest it 'would have the appearance of persecution and would thus be politically inexpedient'. They decided, nonetheless, to strip Cousens of his commission. Their action, carried out on 22 January 1947, was widely regarded as vindictive. Three months later the men of the 2nd/19th Battalion elected Cousens to lead them on the Anzac Day march through Sydney. He was welcomed back to 2GB, and in 1957-59 worked as a television newscaster with ATN-7. In 1949 at San Francisco, United States of America, he had been a defence witness for Iva d'Aquino who, despite his assistance, was gaoled for treason.

The Cousens case was never properly resolved. Official historians of Australia in the war of 1939-1945 avoided the question of the degree of physical and mental endurance that could have been expected from prisoners of war. The army had shirked the issue in the first place by not ordering an immediate military court of inquiry or a court martial. Many years later Sir Garfield Barwick (who had been a member of the prosecution team at the magistrate's inquiry) thought that a jury trial would have been fairer and would probably have resulted in acquittal.

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Peter H
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Re: John David Provoo,traitor?

Postby Peter H » 14 Jul 2008 11:19

One Japanese civilian who worked for the US.

Taro Yashima

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taro_Yashima

As a member of the OSS published a book about "a homesick Japanese sailor" that was distributed as a propaganda tool.

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Re: John David Provoo,traitor?

Postby Razzbar » 15 Jul 2008 21:24

A couple of things cast doubt on the legitimacy of the treason charges against Provoo. At the end of the war, he was liberated in Tokyo, returned to the US, and was honorably discharged from the Army several months (years?) later. He later reenlisted. I wonder why the US took so long to bring charges against him? I believe the answer has to do with a certain amount of hysteria fed by the media, especially by columnist Walter LIppmann. The prosecutors were looking for other christians to throw to the lions, so to speak. It is also intersting how his alleged homosexuality played up in the trial. Irrelevant, except for purposes of a show trial.

On the other hand, I can certainly see how some of his fellow prisoners in the PI might have thought he was collaborating with the Japanese, perhaps even as a spy or agent from the very beginning. Indeed, he HAD to appear to be a collaborator to the Japanese, or he wouldn't have been effective in his real agenda of making life easier for their captives.

The word 'collaborator' is not quite accurate. He carried a certain amount of mystique with the Japanese, obviously. Here was an ordinary American soldier who was an ordained Nichiren priest, who spoke fluent Japanese. Even the Japanese officers HAD to show some respect to this "man of the cloth".

Treason is defined as giving aid and comfort to the enemy. But the real question is whether significant aid is given, and what were the net consequences of this aid? From what I can tell, Nichijo (Provoo) provided a curious distraction to the Japanese, in in so doing, kept their interest away from the other Americans (and other nationalities) in their captivity.

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Re: John David Provoo,traitor?

Postby redwench » 11 Oct 2009 17:42

I knew John as Nichijo Shaka during the time I lived near Pahoa, Hawaii. This was 1975-1985. I first met him when he came stumbling in stinking drunk to my shop, Pahoa Appliance, I had with partner Dennis Stout. Nichijo Lived up behind Denny in a shack that had no amenities at all. I remember going up and thinking 'what a sty'. Denny is the one who gave me the skinny on Nichijo. Such as being on the Bataan death march, being a Japanese POW in Japan. He became a revered Buddhist priest- as Denny described 'A Japanese national treasure'. My most treasured gift from Nichijo- who called me his 'spiritual daughter', was a picture he had taken when he met with the Dalai Lama. I have a copy of it to this day. Along with it a letter form Nichijo. Complete with the letter head for his Buddhist Organization. I almost forgot, Nichijo came up to our new house in Volcano and blessed it for us. I have pictures of that ceremony too. I would love to post them here, but I don't see a way to do it.

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Re: John David Provoo,traitor?

Postby redwench » 11 Oct 2009 19:50

Here is a link to a photo taken at the trial. I hope it works. If not, type in in Google search, his name and hit images. The photo is at an archival photo site.


http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl= ... Yg2gIPElAM

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Markus Becker
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Re: John David Provoo,traitor?

Postby Markus Becker » 13 Oct 2009 15:45

Various accounts state that Provoo personally shot an Army captain named Burton C. Thomson, a veterinarian stationed on Corregidor, or reported him to Japanese troops who shot him themselves, though the exact details vary.


That looks a lot more like hearsay than treason.
Obviously his language skills were useful, he either used them to his personal advantage or got otherwise in a position that earned him the distrust of his fellow POWs. And regarding the broadcasts, I guess the Japanese had ways to make you cooperate.

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Re: John David Provoo,traitor?

Postby Razzbar » 25 Feb 2010 22:35

redwench wrote:Here is a link to a photo taken at the trial. I hope it works. If not, type in in Google search, his name and hit images. The photo is at an archival photo site.


http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl= ... Yg2gIPElAM


The photograph identifies the man on the right as Provoo, but I am sure he's the man in the middle. Note that the two men on the left and middle appear to be handcuffed together.

researcherbrooklyn
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Re: John David Provoo,traitor?

Postby researcherbrooklyn » 11 Aug 2014 15:59

I am a researcher based in Brooklyn New York hoping to contact someone who has memories or met John David Provoo. I am interested in his life post - trial in Hawaii. But also, anyone that may have memories of his trial in the 1950's.


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