The Strange Case of Mr. Norman

On Sept. 14, 1951, the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee heard testimony that:

  • Identified Mr. Norman as “working in the Counter-Intelligence Corps” in the headquarters of the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers in the Japanese Occupation--SCAP--in Tokyo in 1945.
  • Described Mr. Norman’s role in a 1945 episode involving Japanese Communists.

The witness was Eugene H. Dooman, a former U.S. Foreign Service Officer, now retired, who was serving in 1945 as chairman of the Far East Subcommittee of the State, War and Navy Co-ordinating Committee.

Members of the Internal Security Subcommittee staff first read an excerpt from a book entitled “Eighteen Years in Prison,” written by Yoshio Shiga and published by the Japanese Communist Party. The excerpt described the release of a group of Japanese Communists after news reporters found them still being held as political prisoners in a Japanese prison in September, 1945, weeks after Japan’s surrender.

Red Prisoners Visited

According to the Shiga book, the Communist prisoners were visited in prison by Mr. Norman and John K. Emmerson, a U. S. diplomat then assigned to SCAP headquarters.

Mr. Dooman was asked to tell what he knew about this episode. Following is part of his testimony:

Mr. Doorman: … From State Department officials who were there and from what the Japanese themselves said, this was in effect the substance of what I heard: that Harold Isaacs [“Newsweek” magazine correspondent] and a French correspondent who was known to be a Communist went to this prison, Fuchu Prison, and the events took place pretty much as described by Shiga in his book.

The story then continues that they came back, Isaac and this Frenchman came back, and reported their experience to John Emmerson in SCAP headquarters.

A few days later, Emmerson and, I believe, Herbert Norman--

Mr. Morris: Who was Herbert Norman?

Mr. Dooman: Herbert Norman was a Canadian, member of the Canadian Foreign Service, who had been in Tokyo before the war, and who had been sent back by the Canadian Government to Japan as soon as the occupation started to undertake the repatriation of Canadian citizens left in Japan during the war. When he got through with that, he was assigned to Counterintelligence under SCAP.

The story goes on to say that Emmerson, and I believe they weren’t quite certain whether Norman went with Emmerson or not, a few days later went back to this prison and demanded to see Tokuda and Shiga and the other Communists.

The story further continues, and this was a matter that was generally talked about by the Japanese in Tokyo at that time, was that on the day they were released, apparently October 10, following the order by General MacArthur for the release of political prisoners, that Emmerson and Norman went in a staff car to the prison and brought Shiga and Tokuda back to their homes.

Senator Pat McCarran [Democrat, of Nevada; chairman of the Subcommittee]: Who are Shiga and Tokuda?

Mr. Dooman: Shiga was one of the top leaders of the Japanese Communist Party.

Mr. Morris: What was the effect of that on the Japanese population from what you know, Mr. Dooman?

Mr. Dooman: The effect of that, as said by one of the Japanese to me, was to add 100,000 new members to the Japanese Communist Party.



Mr. Norman, at the time his name began appearing in the proceedings of the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, was chief of the Far Eastern Division of Canada’s Department of External Affairs. In 1953 he became Canadian High Commissioner in New Zealand, and then in 1956 was promoted to be Ambassador to Egypt.

It was March 12, 1957, when the strange case of Mr. Norman was taken up once again by the Internal Security Subcommittee. At that time, the Subcommittee was investigating the scope of Soviet activity in the United States.

Witness was John K. Emmerson, who identified himself as deputy chief of mission and counselor of the U. S. Embassy at Beirut, Lebanon. Questioning turned to the period in 1945 when Mr. Emmerson was stationed in Tokyo.

Mr. Morris: Did you visit in Japan subsequently, when you were General MacArthur’s aide, the Japanese prisons there? Did you visit the Japanese Communists in their cells?

Mr. Emmerson: Shortly after I arrived in Japan--this was immediately after the surrender in 1945--we heard that there were some Japanese Communists in a prison camp just outside Tokyo, and at that time Mr. Herbert Norman, a Canadian diplomat, was working in the Counterintelligence Corps. He is a well-known Japanese scholar and speaks Japanese, was born in Japan. He, as I say, was working for the Counterintelligence, and so, under orders of the Counterintelligence Corps, he and I together, in an Army vehicle, went to the prison camp to find out whether in fact these prisoners were there.

We discovered that they were, that there were two very prominent Japanese Communists, Mr. Shiga and Tokuda. After talking briefly to these prisoners, we returned to headquarters and reported this to the Counterintelligence Corps.

It was felt that perhaps these prisoners might have some intelligence value that might be worthwhile interrogating them, so it was arranged that military cars from the Counterintelligence Corps should go out to the prison, and again Mr. Norman and I went out, since we spoke Japanese.

Prisoners were placed in the cars and were brought back to headquarters, where they were interrogated, an official interrogation in the headquarters itself by officers of the Counterintelligence Corps.

At the end of the interrogation, they were taken back to the prison. That is the complete extent of my association with the interrogation of those prisoners of war or any visits to Japanese prison camps.

Mr. Morris: Are you acquainted with Mr. Dooman’s testimony to the fact that these Communists were driven around in Tokyo in Army staff cars which was the equivalent of 100,000 votes to the Japanese Communists in their election?

Mr. Emmerson: I have read that testimony, and all I can say is that the only time the prisoners were ever driven in Army cars was when this group was driven from the prison to the headquarters and back again.

Mr. Morris: Were they observed, do you think?

Mr. Emmerson: There was no reason for them to be observed. They were in khaki-colored Army sedans, and they went through the streets of Tokyo, but there was no reason for them to be remarked any more than any other Army cars would have been.

Furthermore, Mr. Dooman, I believe, states that on October 10 I went out in an Army car and liberated these prisoners and drove them to their homes. That is completely false. I was not in the vicinity of the prison on October 10, and at no time ever drove these people to their homes. They were freed under the order of General MacArthur which liberated all political prisoners under the date, I believe, of Oct. 4, 1945, and what happened at the prison at the time of their liberation I am not aware.

Mr. Morris: Do you have any knowledge that Mr. Norman, the man you talked about, was a Communist?

Mr. Emmerson: I had no knowledge whatsoever.

Mr. Morris: Senators, we have had testimony in our record that Mr. Norman, who was then the Canadian attached to SCAP Headquarters--a professor of his, a man who was a Communist teacher at the time, has testified that, while he was teaching a study group in Columbia, one of his students in this Communist group was E. Herbert Norman, the man we have been talking about. He was the man who made the trip with you at the time. You had, you say, no idea he was a Communist?

Mr. Emmerson: I have had no reason to think he was a Communist either then or now. He is presently Canadian Ambassador to Egypt.

Mr. Morris: Senator, we have quite a few security reports which have a great deal of information to the effect that he is a Communist, that he was involved--

Senator William E. Jenner [Republican, of Indiana]: You say he is now Canada’s Ambassador to Egypt?

“Cleared” by Canada

Mr. Emmerson: Yes, sir.


Source: Unknown, "SISS testimony about Norman Releasing Communist Prisoners," U.S. News and World Report, April 26, 1957

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