FEATURED BLOGGER: Pacific War Trials – Part Two – #AceHistoryDesk report

Courtroom spectators, ManilaThe 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 attorneyAnother 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.################################################################################################################

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

Source: Pacific War Trials – part two