ALLIED TRANSLATOR AND INTERPRETER SECTION (ATIS)
After setting up various intelligence organizations to meet various needs, Willoughby replaced one of these organizations with the American-led Allied Translator and Interpreter Section (ATIS) in September. Initially based in Melbourne but later moved to Indooroopilly Racetrack in Brisbane, Australia, ATIS held great importance in the Pacific Theater during World War II.
ATIS began operations at the time when land combat between the Japanese and the Americans in the Pacific started to yield captured documents and prisoners of war.
The first American team at ATIS consisted of Captain David W. Swift, a Caucasian officer, and eight Nisei, led by Staff Sergeant Gary Tsuneo Kadani. All men had arrived in Australia in June 1942, and all were graduates of the Fourth Army Intelligence School. The men were assigned to General Headquarters, where they worked tirelessly to process the information that began to steadily stream in from the Pacific battlefields. Kadani interrogated the first Japanese POW sent to Brisbane at the end of September.
Several notable events occurred at ATIS. One such event was the translation of the captured “Z Plan” during the Philippines campaign. The “Z Plan” contained Japan’s strategy and tactics for an all-out counterattack against the Allied forces, specifically in the Mariana Islands near Hawaii and the Philippines. Recognizing the importance of the “Z Plan,” ATIS worked day and night to translate it.
In its first month of operation, ATIS interrogated seven prisoners, translated and disseminated nearly 100 documents, and processed more than 1,000 others.1
During and after World War II, more than 3,000 Military Intelligence Service (MIS) linguists were sent to Australia to translate documents and interrogate Japanese prisoners. At ATIS, these linguists, both Australian and American intelligence personnel, translated more than 350,000 captured documents and interrogated more than 10,000 Japanese POWs.2
ORAL HISTORY CLIPS
Gene Uratsu [tape 278]
Starts on Tape Four, between 6 and 8 minute marks
Harry Kubo [tape 326]
Starts on Tape Three, between 4 and 6 minute marks
- 1 James McNaughton, Nisei Linguists: Japanese Americans in the Military Intelligence Service during World War II (Washington, DC: Department of the Army. 2006), p. 79.
- 2Ted Tsukiyama (2004),”The Nisei Intelligence War Against Japan,” retrieved from on December 16, 2014.