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Blogger claims to discredit photo proof that Amelia Earhart survived final flight

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Amelia Earhart may not have been captured by the Japanese after all.

Kota Yamano, a military history blogger, was able to prove otherwise in a recent post on his blog after he did some research on a photograph used in a recent HISTORY documentary, Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence, and found that it had been originally been published in a Japanese travel book (below) two years before her disappearance on July 2, 1937.

The photo in question, which was discovered in the U.S. national archives by former U.S. Treasury Agent Les Kinney, was said to have shown both the famous aviator and her navigator Fred Noonan (her sitting on the dock with her back turned, his face barely visible as he stands), positing that they had in fact not disappeared during their attempt to make history by flying around the world, but that they had crash-landed in the South Pacific and were later taken prisoner by the Japanese.

However, as Yamano told The Guardian, he was able to apparently debunk the theory in less than an hour after running an online search for the words “Jaluit Atoll,” which had been Japan’s administration headquarters in the Marshall Islands between World War I and World War II, and a decade-long time period. He then found the same image in the digital archives of Japan’s National Diet Library, where it’s featured as part of a book about the South Seas. The caption below the image does not note the identities of the individuals in the photograph, but rather maritime activities at the harbor at the time.

“The photo was the 10th item that came up,” the Tokyo-based blogger said. “I was really happy when I saw it. I find it strange that the documentary makers didn’t confirm the date of the photograph or the publication in which it originally appeared. That’s the first thing they should have done.”

NDL Digital Collections

In a statement to EW, a spokesperson for the network said, “[HISTORY] has a team of investigators exploring the latest developments about Amelia Earhart and we will be transparent in our findings. Ultimately, historical accuracy is most important to us and our viewers.”

Earhart’s as-of-yet unexplained disappearance has inspired many pop culture depictions of the renowned pilot, including various movies and a recent comic.