Japanese Police Visit the Texas Rangers

By Clinton Drake, Reference Librarian

Blue-gloved hand holding a black and white photo of two Japanese men outdoors wearing suits. One man is standing and one man sits on a horse.
Texas Department of Public Safety photo of two visitors from Japan.

As we will soon open an exhibit on records related to the Texas Rangers, we are taking an in-depth look at a group of negatives and photographs in the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) photographs collection held at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) that caught our interest. A series of photos show several Japanese police workers observing law enforcement practices of the Texas Rangers, such as smashing gambling machines with hatchets and using a polygraph machine. The seemingly friendly nature of this cultural exchange so shortly after World War II, when the U.S. and Japan were avowed enemies, left us wanting to know more. The last federal internment camp located in Texas that housed Japanese Americans closed just two years before these photos were taken. Typed notations on the upper left-hand corner of two manila envelopes provide clues about the story behind the photos. The notes read as follows:

8-4×5 negatives of
Ranger Capt. Olson and Truman Stone
showing two Japanese how the Rangers
distroy [sic] gambling equipment. Also showing
tear gas gun and cartridge
March 14, 1950

1-4×5 negative of
Kinzo Kimura, Jap[anese] police
lab technician, being
shown the polygraph by
Dee Wheeler.
February 5, 1951

Image of several black and white photos, only one in full view, with the return address portion of a manilla envelope in the bottom right corner. The photo has three men surrounding a viewfinder on a desk. From left to right, Japanese man standing, another Japanese man bent down looking through viewfinder, a white man in uniform is also bent down pointing something out. In partial view, photo shows a Texas Ranger in uniform holding an ax over two gambling machines. A Japanese man in a suit stands behind the machines on the ground.
Texas Department of Public Safety photos and envelope.
a white envelope on a table with  a photo negative sitting on top at an angle. The negative image is of a Japanese man and a Texas Ranger looking at a polygraph machine.
Texas Department of Public Safety negative and envelope.

Knowing the identity of one of the Japanese police workers—Kinzo Kimura—enabled us to add to the story by finding his name in a January 1951 report entitled Weekly Report on Japan to the Far Eastern Commission, noting he had received permission to travel to the United States “to inspect police administrations” by the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP), General Douglas MacArthur. MacArthur had lived in Texas in his youth, graduating from the West Texas Military Academy in San Antonio.

In the same report to the Far Eastern Commission (FEC), Makoto Kataoka was also granted travel for the same purpose and time. A ship manifest confirms that Kimura and Kataoka traveled together on board of the S. S. President Cleveland, arriving at San Francisco on December 16, 1950. Kimura’s destination was listed as “c/o Prof. R. Turner, Mich. St. College, East Lansing, Mich.”and Kataoka’s as “Police Academy, Los Angeles, Calif.” Professor Ralph Turner established a renowned criminalistics program at Michigan State University in 1947. Kimura and Kataoka likely visited numerous criminal justice programs and law enforcement agencies during their visit.

The FEC was a multinational organization eventually made up of 13 countries led by the “Big Four” Allied Powers—the United States, United Kingdom, Soviet Union, and Nationalist China—with MacArthur (SCAP) at the helm as de facto leader of Occupied Japan. Created in 1945, the FEC was tasked with implementing postwar governance, reconstruction, and policy making under the terms of surrender of Japan under the Potsdam Declaration. Compliance to all the terms during the occupation led to the Japanese Peace Treaty of September 8, 1951, and concurrently, the conclusion of the FEC.

According to an article by Kazumi Kuzuhara published in the National Institute for Defense Studies (Japan) journal, when most U.S. troops stationed in occupied Japan were reassigned to the Korean battle front, “the National Police Reserve [NPR] of Japan was formed to fill the country’s military vacuum by providing for national defense capability, as well as to serve as a lightly armed national police force”(p. 95). According to Thomas French in his dissertation entitled A History of Japan’s National Police Reserve 1950-1952: Army or Constabulary?, there were several issues affecting the “quality and value” of the training of the NPR, including: a lack of translated equipment manuals, equipment, facilities, and a shortage of qualified US advisory personnel, especially within more specialized units (p. 170).

black and white photo of three men looking at a tear gas gun. on the far left side of the image there is a black fan. In a row there is standing a Japanese man holding a tear gas gun open for loading. Next to him is another Japanese man looking down at the hands of the man on his left. the man on his left is a Texas Ranger wearing a badge and holding to cartridges for the gun. On the table in front of them is a black rotary dial phone, maps, newspapers, photographs, and magnifying glasses.
Two Japanese officers being shown tear gas gun and cartridge, March 14, 1950.
Texas Department of Public Safety photographs, 1983/112 E270-3.

Around this time, the U.S. War Department offered Colonel Homer Garrison, Jr., director of the Department of Public Safety and chief of the Texas Rangers, a position on MacArthur’s staff to reorganize the Japanese police force. According to a 1956 article in The Paris News, Garrison declined, stating: “I don’t know how badly I might be needed in Japan, or how much I might be able to accomplish there. But here in Texas, where my interests and duties lie, I do know what needs to be done and how to go about doing it.” Despite turning down the position, Garrison may have obliged the request by inviting Japanese police workers to train under the Texas Rangers and the Department of Public Safety. 

According to a 1968 article in The Baytown Sun, “Once, in the early 1950s, Garrison was elected president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. That, in effect, made him the police chief of the world.” Also part of the DPS photographs collection is Colonel Garrison’s 1950s era desk plaque from Japan featuring a dragon and tiger inlaid with abalone on either side of his name. Japan’s NPR was reorganized several times, eventually becoming a branch of the Japanese Army.


Carter, Bill. “Garrison, Homer, Jr.” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed April 28, 2023, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/garrison-homer-jr.

Cheavens, Dave. “Law Enforcement Career Proves Really Successful.” The Paris News (Paris, TX), Oct. 21, 1956.

U.S. Department of the Army. Civil Affairs Division. 265th Weekly Report on Japan to the Far Eastern Commission. MI-001/265. January 12, 1951.

Gale Cengage Learning. Archives Unbound. Records of the Far Eastern Commission, 1945-1952. Online database. N.d. https://www.gale.com/binaries/content/assets/gale-us-en/primary-sources/archives-unbound/primary-sources_archives-unbound_records-of-the-far-eastern-commission-1945-1952.pdf

Kuzuhara, Kazumi (2006). “The Korean War and The National Police Reserve of Japan: Impact of the US Army’s Far East Command on Japan’s Defense Capability” (PDF). NIDS Journal of Defense and Security. National Institute for Defense Studies. No. 7. ISSN 1345-4250. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 June 2016.

MacArthur, Douglas. Reports of General MacArthur: supplement. MacArthur in Japan: the occupation, military phase. United States: Center of Military History, 1994.

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at San Francisco, 1893-1953. NARA microform publication M1410, 429 Rolls. NAID 4498993. Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787–2004, Record Group 85. The National Archives in Washington, D.C.

Texas Historical Commission. “Crystal City (Family) Internment Camp.” Last updated March 13, 2020. https://www.thc.texas.gov/crystalcity.

U.S. Department of State. The Far Eastern Commission: third report by the Secretary General, December 24, 1948-June 30, 1950. Department of State publication 3945. Washington, D.C.: Dept. of State, Division of Publications, Office of Public Affairs, 1950.

For more information and questions regarding TSLAC collection, please contact the reference desk at 512-463-5455 or ref@tsl.texas.gov.

One thought on “Japanese Police Visit the Texas Rangers

  1. This was incredibly interesting. Thank you for sharing this glimpse into an unknown aspect of Texas history!

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