Japanese Cryptology From The 1500s To Meiji - World War I As Turning Point

World War I As Turning Point

David Kahn identifies World War I as a major turning point for institutional cryptology. Before the war, breaking codes was an individual endeavor – one person wresting with the messages until one of due them broke. After the war, successful cryptology against major nation states required large-scale organization.

Japanese cryptology does not seem to have been affected at all by the Great War. The government continued using insecure codes of the sort they had been using since the Meiji Restoration. As a result, in 1921 Japanese diplomacy was unable to gain its preferred result at the Washington Naval Conference, ending with the least position Japan was willing to accept. Weak codes were the primary cause of that result, as the American delegation had the Japanese secret communications available.

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