Even when a History documentary claimed a photo showed that Amelia Earhart had survived a 1937 plane crash in the Marshall Islands and was taken prisoner, Kota Yamano didn't buy it. "I have never believed the theory that Earhart was captured by the Japanese military, so I decided to find out for myself," the military history blogger from Japan tells the Guardian. "I was sure that the same photo must be on record in Japan." He was right. In fact, it took only minutes to find in the archives of Japan's national library. In what may be the final nail in the coffin for the much-debated theory, Yamano says the same photo shown in the documentary was published in a travel book about the South Seas in October 1935—two years before Earhart vanished.
"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," says Yamano, who describes his discovery in a blog post. If the finding is true, it means the History documentary not only misidentified Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan in the photo—whose Japanese-language caption describes a bustling harbor on Jabor in the Jaluit atoll in the Marshall Islands—but also the Koshu Maru, a vessel that was only launched in 1937, reports NPR. According to a rep, the History Channel now has "a team of investigators exploring the latest developments about Amelia Earhart and we will be transparent in our findings." (The photo raises other doubts.)