Pacific War Trials – part two

Courtroom spectators, Manila

The Allies also established the United Nations War Crimes Commission (the UNWCC) in 1943.  The UNWCC collected evidence on Axis war crimes and drew up lists of suspected war criminals for Allied prosecution after the war.  In 1944, a sub-commission of the UNWCC was established in Chungking to focus on the investigation of Japanese atrocities.

The major trials being held in Tokyo were presided by the U.S., Britain, Australia, the Netherlands, France, China and the Philippines and began in May 1946. General MacArthur, as supreme commander of the Allied powers, largely controlled the progress of the trials. They started with 25 defendants, but two passed away during the proceedings and another was evaluated as too mentally deficient to participate.

Hideki Tojo listening to testimonies.

Hideki Tojo was the most infamous face to symbolize Japanese aggression being that he was the Prime Minister at the time of Pearl Harbor. A 55-count indictment was drafted by the British prosecutor, Arthur Comyns-Carr. Every nation’s prosecutor signed the document listing: 36 counts of ‘crimes against peace’, 16 for murder and 3 counts for ‘other conventional war crimes and crimes against humanity’ for the major persons involved. These proceedings were held at the Japanese War Ministry Building and would last until November 1948. During this time, the prosecution called 400 witnesses and produced 800 affidavits.

Foreign Minister, Koki Hirota at his sentencing.

Tojo took responsibility as premier for anything he or his country had done; others argued that they had operated in self-defense due to the ABCD power’s embargo and military assistance given to China. In Tokyo, all defendants were found guilty. The death sentence was given to: Hideki Tojo; Foreign Minister Koki Hirota; Generals Kenji Doihara, Seishiro Itagaki, Akiro Muto, Hyoturo Kimura and Iwane Matsui – these sentences were carried out three days later.

Sixteen others received life in prison. Eight of the judges agreed on all of the sentences. Sir William Webb dissented, Delfin Jaramilla of P.I. thought they were too lenient, H. Bernard of France found fault with the proceedings, B.V.A. Roeling of the Netherlands voted to acquit Hirota and several others.  A complete dissent came from Radhabinod Pal of India.

Tomaya Kawakita and his attorney

Another series of tribunals were held in Yokohama, Japan. These were for lower ranking officers, Shinto priests, medical personnel and farmers in association with the treatment of prisoners. One case involved the ship, Oryoko Maru, upon which 1,300 POWs died in 1944. The secret police, the Kempeitai, were brought to justice along with other spies. The trial of Tomaya Kawakita was moved from Yokohama to Los Angeles at his request being that he was born in the United States. This was a clear case of “be careful what you wish for” – the American court sentenced him to death.

American tribunals were held in Shanghai for those accused of executing American airmen under the “Enemy Airmen’s Act” due to the Doolittle raid on Japan in April 1942, when many prisoners were murdered as an act of revenge for that mission of bombing Japan early in the war.

To be continued…

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

Ralph Becker – South Bend, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 388th Bomb Group/8th Air Force

Alice Keller Clark – Lebanon, PA; US Army Air Corps WAC, WWII

David A. Deatherage – Independence, MO; US Army, Korea, Co. A/187th RCT

James M. Flanagan – Jacksonville, FL; US Navy, WWII, Seaman 2nd Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

George Homer Jr. – New Rochelle, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Medical/457th Artillery/11th Airborne Division

George La Marsh – New Haven, CT; US Army, WWII

John Price – Muskogee, OK; US Navy, WWII, PTO, PB4Y-2 bombardier

Charles ‘Chuck’ Reiner (100) – Rochester, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII  /  31 y. career as volunteer, Red Cross, VA Hospital, DAV

Jack Schouten – Keokuk, IA; US Army, WWII, SSgt., 588th Signal Depot Company

Edward Wall – Riverside, CA; US Army, Vietnam, 101st Airborne Division

About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on November 5, 2020, in Post WWII, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 106 Comments.

  1. I always learn so much from you, GP. I didn’t realize there were multiple trials. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very interesting. This is why we mustn’t forget its not just about bullets flying it takes years afterwards to heal.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nobel work indeed. Thank you for the post. And Happy Veteran’s Day!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Do you know, I never realized the Japanese atrocities were prosecuted? I was until now only aware of the Nuremberg trials. Thank you so much for this information.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is unrelated but I was curious and thought you would know– B17 — why are they referred to as ships? I’m reading a memoir from a navigator who survived Corrigedor. Any thoughts?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Much of aviation history is described in nautical terms, plus many planes have been dubbed with female names to honor the pilot’s loved one (the nose art we always see). But all in all, I don’t think there is any one reason for it, Cindy.

      Like

  6. Keep teaching my friend, keep teaching!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It would take a strong stomach to sit through three or so years of war crimes trials, G. No thank you. Necessary, however, to the degree that war crimes can make an already bad situation much worse, thinking of things like the Bataan Death March for the Japanese and the concentration camps for the Germans. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

  8. It must have taken someone with a strong stomach to Wade though all the evidence. Impartially determining war crimes must be a difficult task.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I worry about Ian …

    Like

  10. Gheezuzkrist, GP Cox … Am worried bout our mutual friend Ian … What the hell happened to make him so sad? Love, cat.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Het zal een erg moeilijke periode geweest zijn voor rechter en beklaagden maar wie zoveel menselijk leed heeft veroorzaakt mag zijn straf niet ontlopen vind ik

    Liked by 1 person

  12. It would be interesting to know on what grounds the dissenting judges were not happy.
    Every time I read something like this blog post, I cannot believe that anybody could be as cruel for no reason as the Japanese were. It must have taken a lot of energy to hate the whole non-Japanese world as they seem to have done.
    We had a neighbour from hell once and I tried really hard to hate him, but I couldn’t do it. I just didn’t have the energy after a day at work!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I remember some of the tricks they played on new members. It didn’t matter if you were a Private or an officer. Someone would always find a way to get you.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. How many years did these trials go on? I seem to remember my uncle listening on the radio to some trials when I was a very young girl. I remember they upset him!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. My dad participated in the thousands of “lesser” trials in Yokohama. While I did manage to get him to say the trials involved rapes, murders and brutality, he would not divulge more. Being a peaceful, I am sure they were very unpleasant questioning and testimonies that he wants to forget.

    Thousands of these lesser trials were conducted in very unglamorous surroundings – mainly Quonset huts. My dad is standing in front of one. https://flic.kr/p/Dj2dMa

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I was especially intrigued by the responses of the various judges. I confess I laughed at the fact that H. Bernard of France found fault with the proceedings — if anyone was going to do so, it makes sense to me that it would be the Frenchman! I was curious about that complete dissent from Radhabinod Pal — do you know anything about his reason(s)?

    Liked by 1 person

  17. In some of the cases, justice was carried out very swiftly.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Trying times, to say the least

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Looking forward to the next installment, GP. As always, thank you for educating me.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. The whole process is complicated and demanding. Thank you for sharing this, GP. I was unaware.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Thanks, GP. There had to be justice and it struck me that the men and women who worked on these cases had their war service extended and should be thanked. I think your posts does that for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Accountability is so important. Nuff said…

    Liked by 2 people

  23. I can imagine that the judges had to consider that while many of those high-ranking officers had actually carried out no crimes personally, their encouragement of and inaction against those that did made them guilty by association. It has some parallels in the Nuremberg trials of top Nazis.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. War continues to be hell, even when it is over. Thank you for reminding us of this aspect of it, GP. It’s a valuable post. Hugs on the wing.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. I agree to all the other comments. The judges had done a good job. Great information, GP!

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Tomaya Kawakita and his legal council must have taken full leave of their senses. It should have been obvious that if his trial venue were moved to the U.S., Kawakita would be charged and likely convicted of treason–a capital offense. Then, so it came to pass.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Another fascinating chapter, GP. Hope we are not about to enter another period of complicated jurisprudence but litigation seems to be the flavor of today. The only ones who will win will be the lawyers.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. The differences among the judges indicates how hard this must have been. I would imagine some cases were clear cut, but others must have been murky. Thanks for bringing us beyond the surrender ceremony (which is where my history book ended).

    Liked by 4 people

  29. After years of war and atrocity the prosecutors probably needed time off like everyone else. Instead they had to immerse themselves evaluating evil and the most grotesque. We owe them our every respect in trying to bring justice.

    Liked by 4 people

  1. Pingback: FEATURED BLOGGER: Pacific War Trials – Part Two – #AceHistoryDesk report | ' Ace Worldwide History '

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