Kolchak's gold: for which Japan owes Russia 6 billion dollars

A member of the public Council on foreign and defense policy, Mark Masarsky - about the possible outcome of an exciting detective story that began in 1918


- This story, Mark Veniaminovich, reads more interesting than any detective story. Where do we start?

- From the fact that before 1917, Russia's gold reserves were determined by an astronomical figure - 1337 tons. No country in the world (except the United States) could even come close to it. When the Germans came very close to Petrograd, the tsarist government wisely ordered to evacuate the gold reserve away from the front, dividing it between Nizhny Novgorod and Kazan.

On the night of 7 August 1918, a small detachment of the White Guard lieutenant colonel Vladimir Kappel captures all the Kazan gold - 507,1 tons worth 651,5 million rubles. And in November it turns out to be in Omsk, at Kolchak. His nearly hundred-thousandth army was sorely in need of weapons, and it could only be bought abroad. Gold of tsarist Russia flowed there.

- How?

- The scheme was simple and reliable. The “golden” Kolchak echelons were sent to Vladivostok (three out of four reached the place, one was captured and ransacked by Ataman Semenov), where their contents were transferred to the basements of the local branch of the State Bank. And then, either directly or through the specially created from the banks of the United States, Britain and Japan, the company Syndicate concluded an agreement with a foreign partner on a loan or supply of weapons. To secure a loan, a so-called “collateral gold” was transferred to a foreign bank.

Kolchak transferred gold to many countries. But most of the money went to Japan, where the main counterparty of the admiral was “Yokohama Hurry Bank” - the only Japanese bank at that time that had official permission to operate in foreign currency.

But the Japanese did not deliver Kolchak's weapon. And the gold did not return.

1918 year. The gold reserve of Russia in the Kazan State Bank. Here, it will be captured by the White Guard detachment of V. Kappel.


“Back in 1996, from the rostrum of the Russian State Duma, one of its leaders said bluntly:“ We have all the necessary documents to demand the return of our gold from Japan. ” What documents were we talking about?

- These are two Russian-Japanese financial agreements signed in October 1919 of the year on providing a loan to Kolchak in Omsk on the security of pure gold in two bills of lading equivalent to 20 million and 30 million yen - about 60 tons of gold. We searched for these documents all over the world, and found in Moscow, among the unsorted obstructions of the archives of the Foreign Ministry. And the originals! The pioneers were graduate students and students of the Diplomatic Academy, students of Professor Vladlen Sirotkin, who shoveled thousands of unexplored documents.

The finds were two loan agreements between the Japanese banking syndicate headed by “Yokohama Shesha Bank” and the representative of the State Bank of Russia in Tokyo, IG Shchekin, speaking on behalf of the Omsk Government. I would stress that it will not return to this again: these were legal interstate treaties for the manufacture of weapons for the Kolchak army by the Japanese military factory.

A copy of the first page of the Russian-Japanese financial contract from October 6 1919 year
A copy of the last page of the Russian-Japanese financial contract from October 6 1919 year

In October - November 1919, the Japanese received Russian gold, which is recorded in the preliminary “Information Report of the Bank of Japan” for the 1919 year. Moreover, this information has leaked to the Japanese press. “Yesterday, Russian gold worth 10 million yen arrived in the city of Tsuruga on account of a loan to the Omsk Government in the amount of 30 million yen,” the Tok Nitya Yti newspaper 3 of November 1919 told readers.

The total value of gold received by the Japanese side from the Kolchak administration in the form of a pledge for the promised deliveries of weapons amounted to 54 529 880 gold rubles.

“Kolchak, as we remember, didn’t help much ...”

- Yes, literally a couple of weeks after the “golden” translation was followed by a series of defeats to the Kolchak army, it panicked back from Omsk. Further well-known: the rout near Irkutsk, the capture of Kolchak and his death. It was here that the Japanese side seized upon the wonderful opportunity not to deliver the promised “in the absence of the addressee”. And it is banal to appropriate Russian gold. As a result, the loan was sold only on 300 thousand dollars, the weapon was received by the Japanese satellite chieftain Semenov.

And this was only the beginning of the plunder of the royal treasury.

August 1919 of the year. Kolchak's army retreat to the east


- I guess you mean the robbery seizure by the Japanese of 25 of pounds of gold in the Khabarovsk branch of the State Bank of Russia. This was discussed in the telegram of the People's Commissariat of Finance of the RSFSR on November 21 1918 of the year.

- Not only this. The biggest “golden jackpot” was frustrated by the Japanese thanks to the betrayal of Kolchak’s general Sergei Rozanov. On the night of 29 on 30 in January of 1920, the Japanese cruiser Hizen moored in front of the building of the Vladivostok branch of the State Bank, which stands on the hill. The assault force disembarking from it cordoned off the territory, an assault group broke into the bank - it was headed by Rozanov, disguised as a Japanese officer. And the operation was commanded by Colonel Japanese Intelligence Rokuro Idzome, the chief specialist in Kolchak gold in the Far East.

Within two hours, about 55 tons of Russian gold without any receipts and acts were transferred from bank vaults to the holds of the Japanese cruiser. Of course, the city authorities declared an official protest to the Japanese government. Of course, a criminal case was initiated against General Rozanov about the theft on a particularly large scale.

But Japan did not even bother to answer ultimatums.

- The medal had another side. White generals carried tons of gold eastwards in their transports. But, persecuted by the Bolsheviks and by the Chinese Hunghusian gangsters scampering across Manchuria, they often faced a fateful choice: either to be captured and say goodbye to gold, or ...

- ... to give it to the preservation of the only “real” power at that time in Manchuria - the Japanese. And "light" to get away from the chase.

22 November 1920, the chief of logistics of Kolchak’s army, General Petrov, transfers the 22 box of gold for temporary storage to the head of the occupying Japanese military administration in Transbaikalia and Manchuria to Japanese colonel Rokuro Idzome.

13 February 1920, a military foreman of the Ussurian Cossack army, Klok transfers to the 30 commander of the Japanese infantry regiment, Colonel Servant, two boxes and five sacks of gold from the confiscated white guards in the Khnarovsk State Bank 38 gold poods for storage.

Let us recall the 33 box with gold, which were transferred in March 1920 to the Japanese side and placed in the Osaka branch of “Chosen Bank”. This is evidenced by the protocols of the Tokyo District Court of March 9 of 1925 of the year.

Add the 143 box with gold, which General Semenov handed over to Japanese Colonel H. Kurosawa in March 1920 in Chita ...

And General Istrov gave 1 a million 270 thousand gold rubles to the Japanese, General Podtyagin gave one and a half million gold rubles, the financial agent of the tsarist government of the Tsarist government, Konstantin Miller - 10 million gold rubles ...

- Has this gold been given to the Japanese against a receipt?

- Not always. Who and under "honest word" ...


- Recently, the agency “Kyodo Tsusin” reported that representatives of the ruling circles of Japan took an active part in the illegal import of Russian capital ...

- Yes, the former president of the Japanese credit bank YoshioTatai was able to prove that at least four tons of Russian gold was stolen from Russia on the direct orders of the Japanese government. And personally, Finance Minister Takahashi was involved in a secret shipment to the country of 9,1 tons of Russian gold in 186 boxes.

By the way, most of the gold appropriated by the Japanese, as the parliamentary investigation conducted in Japan in March 1925 showed, entered the “secret fund” of the Kwantung Army. This fund was managed by the country's future prime minister, General Giichi Tanaka, by the end of 1922, concentrating many tons of Russian gold on a huge amount for those times - more than 60 million yen.

It will take several years, and thanks to the Russian gold, the Kwantung Army will turn into a real “state within a state” in the expanses of North China and Korea ...

August 1918 of the year. Vladivostok. Japanese troops on Svetlanskaya Street


- I will put the question squarely: has Russia retained the rights to the gold taken from it?

- Of course. The Soviet Union was the legal successor of the Russian Empire and all regimes on its territory up to and including 1920. As well as according to the Paris Convention, the Russian Federation was the successor of the Russian Empire and all regimes on its territory. Let us recall how foreign contractors always acted with us: “should - pay”. And we state that the 8 article, fixed in the 6 and 19 agreements of October 1919, has not lost its force: “The State Bank of Russia remains the manager of the gold deposit and can return it from Osaka to Vladivostok by paying only six percent of the costs transfer".

I repeat once again: Russia has the full and legal right to demand the return of pledged gold.

- Did our Japanese partners know?

- Actually, they never really secret. And until 1925, they were quietly waiting for whether Soviet Russia would not require the return of gold deposits under 1919 agreements. Would not require recognition of the legality of the signed agreements? Not demanded. And in June 1927 of the year, “Yokohama Hurry Bank” restructured part of the pledged gold into government assets for 62 million yen. And then every ten years, the Japanese did this banking operation, the fat from which went straight to the treasury. Over 90 years, more than six billion US dollars has come over at the lowest interest rates.

The approximate cost of building two nuclear power plants.

- It is logical to demand the return of interest money and collateral gold to Russia ...

- Not so simple. When in the 90-ies this topic was raised in the media, the Japanese at the request of the Russian Foreign Ministry said: there is no Russian gold in Japan. I will not delve into their argument - it does not hold water. The root of the problem is in the mentality of the Japanese, which I have studied quite well over the years of my life in the Far East. The Japanese, it seems to me, will never admit that they have stolen Russian gold. For them, preserving national honor and their own face to the world is much more important than any economic interests.

Let us and we will make a “politically correct” look that Japan has not stolen anything from us. And we will do as in his time Indonesia. After the end of the Japanese occupation, the ravaged country did not extort debts from the former aggressor, but agreed with it about multi-billion investments in the Indonesian economy. They not only revived Indonesia, but also brought considerable taxes to the state treasury ...

- Instead of political litigation - a business plan?

- Exactly. Japanese people need electricity? Needs Does Russia need a breakthrough in the economic blockade that the United States (and its ally Japan) are actually doing for us in the Far East? Without any doubt.

Japan owes Russia, according to my calculations, six billion US dollars. Why not ask the Japanese government to act as a guarantor of energy investments and allow the Japanese Tokyo-Mitsubishi Bank (the successor of Yokohama Rushi Bank, the largest in the world today) to invest these six billions in building two nuclear power plants in the Russian Far East? Their energy can be supplied to the island of Honshu by sea cable (there is a corresponding project developed by the Russian institute.) Moreover, they can be supplied at a reduced price until the Russian side reimburses to investors all the money invested in the construction of the stations. After that, Japanese investors leave the NPP co-owners and Russia owns two modern stations built using safe, “post-Chernobyl” technology.

- You do not believe in the direct return of the “gold of Kolchak”?

- There is no real “Kolchak's gold”. Ingots and Russian coins have been melted long ago. But there is a geopolitical and economic reality, when the ability to negotiate and compromise is more expensive than any money. In the investment variant there will be no losers: Japan receives cheap electricity, Russia returns its gold reserves in the form of two nuclear power plants.

And forever closes the theme of "Russian gold in Japan."

- Does this project have a chance for implementation?

- I think the time for this has come. The implementation of the “Indonesian version” of investment would be an asymmetric response to US plans for a non-alternative supply of overseas shale LNG to the Far Eastern region. And for the Russian economy - the Far Eastern counterpart of the “Southern Gas Stream”.


Bitter grin of history: “Yokohama Sheshi Bank”, and then “Tokyo Ginko” created on the basis of it - the only one in Japan that securely worked with foreign currency until the middle of the 60-s. And thanks for that the Land of the Rising Sun should be the northern neighbor. This is because Russian gold participated in the formation of the Japanese “economic miracle” ...




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