The Failure of the Tokyo Trial

Wu Tianwei

                               ""No. One War Criminal" Not Brought to Trial. "

"The Majority of Class A War Criminals Not Tried but Released."

"all the uncondemned Class A war criminals were set free by Gen. MacArthur in 1947 and 1948. Most of them immediately returned to the Japanese political arena, which was again dominated by the same Fascists and militarists though clad in democratic cloak in disguise. "

"All Killers of "Human Experimentation" At Large. "

"Hundreds of doctors of the former Unit 731 are still practicing or living in retirement in Japan today. "

The Beginning, of the Tokyo Trial. About half a year after the opening of the Nuremberg Trail, the International Military Tribunal for the Far East began its trial of 28 Class A Japanese war criminals at Tokyo on May 3, 1946, which is known as the "Tokyo Trial." The hearings of the Trial dated back to 1928, when Marshal Chang Tsolin, warlord of Manchuria, was assassinated, and extended right to the Japanese surrender.

The background of the Tokyo Trial was somewhat different from that of the Nuremberg Trial. At the Cairo Conference, the three Allies, Britain, China, and the United States, issued a declaration on December 1, 1943, which spelled out that "the purpose of this war is to stop and punish Japanese aggression." The 5th article of the Potsdam Declaration of July 1945 issued by the same three Allies enunciated that "stem justice shall be meted out to all war criminals including those who have visited cruelties upon our prisoners." In the Instrument of Japanese Surrender of September 2, 1945, all matters related to the arrest and treatment of war criminals were specifically stipulated. In the meantime, the Commission of Crimes of the United Nations (established at London in the summer of 1943) made recommendation on the establishment of an international n-military tribunal for Japanese crimes and atrocities. U.S. State Department adopted the "Policy of Arrest and Punishment of War Criminals in the Far East," with which it notified the Supreme Command of the Allied Powers (SCAP) and 8 nations (Australia, Britain, Canada, China, France, Netherlands, New Zealand, the Soviet Union, and the United States) to organize the tribunal. The Moscow Conference of foreign ministers of the big four, Britain, China, the Soviet Union and U.S. decided the tribunal would be established at Tokyo. In January 1946, General Douglas MacArthur approved its charter to formally inaugurate the Tribunal. Although the United States played a major role in both the Nuremberg and Tokyo Trials, having had her legal views and opinions well pronounced, she virtually dominated the latter, in which her policy toward Japan took precedence. The Tokyo Trial also was overshadowed by the Chinese civil war and the imminent Cold War that engulfed the American-Soviet relations. All this led to the Trial of the Class A war criminals unfinished and a hasty close of the Trial.

Nevertheless, the Tokyo Trial was based upon the concepts of war crimes initiated at the Nuremberg Trial, i.e., Crimes against Peace, Crimes against Humanity, and War Crimes and Aggressive War--but without the "collective guilt" as with the crimes of the Nazis. Each member of the I 1 -nation Far East Council, supposed to be a guiding and policy-making organ for the SCAP, appointed a judge each, with Sir William F. Webb of Australia as presiding judge, the other judges being E. Stuart McDougall for Canada, Ju-ao Mei for China, Henri Bernard for France, Delfin Jaranilla for the Philippines, Bernard Victor A. Roling for the Netherlands, Erima Harvey Northeroft for New Zealand, I.M. Zaryanov for the Soviet Union, Lord Patrick for Great Britain, and John P. Higgins for the U.S. (later replaced by Maj. Gen. Myron C. Gramer), and R.M. Pal for India. The chief prosecutor was American Joseph B. Keenan, each of the I 11 nations appointed an associate prosecutor, the Chinese prosecutor being che-chun Hsiang.

Japan then was under U.S. occupation and the U.S. provided for funds and manpower for the Trial; as a result, the U.S. assumed the entire work of prosecution. Still the biggest problem was that the Supreme Commander Douglas MacArthur had the authority not only to select judges but "to reduce, but not to increase the sentences." Chief Prosecutor Keenan, a politician from the State of Ohio, cooperated slavishly with the Supreme Commander; under such circumstances, the Tokyo Trail dragged for two and a half years and closed on November 4, 1948, with its sentences meted out to the 28 Class A war criminals as tabulated below.

Seven death sentences:

Hideki Tojo: Gendarme Commander and Chief of Staff of the Kwantung Army; Minister of the Army and Prime Minister (October 1941 to July 1944), launching the Pearl Harbor attack.

Kenji Doihara: Chief of Special Service of the Kwantung Army; one of the conspirators engineering the "September 18, 193 1 " Incident and kidnapping the "last emperor" of the Manchu dynasty with whom to inaugurate Manchukuo.

Seishiro Itagaki: One of the conspirators to engineer the "September 18, 193 1 " Incident, Chief of Staff of the Kwantung Army, and Minister of the Army.

lwane Matsui: Chief of Special Service of the Kwantung Army at Harbin, Commander-in-Chief of Japanese Central China Army, chief culprit of the Rape of Nanking.

Akira Muto: Deputy Chief of Staff of Japanese Central China Army, responsible for the Rape of Nanking and atrocities in Indonesia.

Heitaro Kimura: Chief of Staff of the Kwantung Army, deputy minister of the Army, army commander in Bunna, where he was responsible for the brutalization of Allied POWs especially to build the Siain-Bunna Railway.

Koki Hirota: As Foreign Minster, he introduced the "three principles" in dealing with China in 1935. Next year he became Prime Minister; he was the only civilian to receive death sentence.

Sixteen defendants sentenced to life imprisonment: Sadao Araki: Minister of the Army, Minister of Education, and leader of the "Imperial Way Faction."

Kingoro Hashimoto: As an artillery regiment commander, Colonel Hashimoto was a major culprit in

the Rape of Nanking,. He was behind assassinations and coups d'etat and published books for racist propaganda.

Shunroku Hata: Field Marshal, Commander-in-Chief of Japanese expeditionary army in China, Minister of the Army.

Yoshijlro Umezu: Commander-in-Chief of Japanese Army stationed in North China and later of the

Kwantung Army; Chief of General Staff representing Japan to sign the Instrument of Surrender on the USS Missouri.

Teiichi Suzuki: Expert on China masterminded Japan's wartime economy and was involved in drug trafficking in China.

Koichi Kido, Marquis: Minister of Education, Welfare, Home Affairs in various periods, and Lord Keeper of the Privy Council.

Kuniaki Koiso: Chief of Staff of the Kwantung Army, Governor of Korea then known as "Tiger of Korea," and Prime Minister.

Kichiro Hiranuma: Founder of the Kokuhonsha (society for national quintessence), Prime Minister, and President of the Privy Council.

Jiro Minanii: Commander-in-Chief of the Kwantung Army, Minister of the Army, Governor of Korea, and an early leader advocating the "Holy War" against China.

Takasumi Oka: Chief of Bureau of Military Affairs; Deputy Minister of the Navy; he was most responsible for the mistreatment of Allied POWs especially the "hellships."

Okinori Kaya: President of North China Development Company, plundering China's industry and resources; Minister of Finance with the knowledge of building the Siam-Burma Railway with POWs as slave laborers.

Naoki Hoshino: Chief of financial affairs in Manchuria; as chief cabinet secretary, being the war's most enthusiastic supporter in the cabinet, drafted the declarations of war against Britain and the United States.

Hiroshi Oshima: Lt. Gen. and Ambassador to Germany being considered "more Nazi than the Nazis" forged the Axis Pact with Germany and Italy.

Kenryo Sato: A confidant of Premiere Tojo, serving as Chief of the Bureau of Military Affairs and divisional commander in Indonesia and Burma, persecuting the Allied POWs.

Shigetaro Shimada: Vice Chief of Naval General Staff-, as Minister of Navy, he authorized the Pearl Harbor attack.

Toshio Shiratofi: Ambassador to Italy, a rabid supporter of military expansion, being a confidant of Mussolini and having forged the Axis Pact.

Two defendants received prison terms:

Shigenori Togo: Ambassador to Germany and Italy; Foreign Minister, 1941-42, 1945, being responsible for negotiations with the U.S. before the Pearl Harbor attack, but inimical to Nazi Germany. He was sentenced 20 years of imprisonment.

Mamoru Shigemitsu: Ambassador to China, Britain, and the Soviet Union; Forel-n Minister, 1943- 45, representing Japan to sign the Instrument of Surrender on the USS Missouri.

As to the other three defendants, Matsuoka died in 1946, Nagano died in 1947, and Okawa was set free because of insanity. Shumei Okawa, a staunch nationalist devoted to militarism, had been Chief of East Asian Economic Survey Bureau and participated in the March and October coups of 193 1, and the "September 18" Incident. He was jailed for the assassination of Premiere Tsuyoshi Inukai in 1932. In the first day of the Tokyo Trial, when the indictments to the war criminals were announced, he beat the head of Tojo. All charged against him were dropped after the conclusion of the Tokyo Trial and he was discharged from the mental hospital as mentally fit; he died nine years later.

Field Marshal Osarni Nagano served as deputy naval attach‚ in the Japanese Embassy at Washington, 1912-14 and became Minister of Navy in 1936. He was Chief of Naval General Staff from 1941 to 1944, planning the Pearl Harbor attack; died of natural cause during the Trial.

Yosuke Matsuoka came to America for study at the age of 14 and was graduated from Oregon University in 1900. He began his diplomatic career in 1904, first serving as consul at Shanghai. In 1927, he became Vice-President of the Southern Manchuria Railway Company and a rabid supporter for the annexation of Manchuria to Japan, by initiating the theory that "Man (Manchuria)-Mon (Inner Mongolia) is the Lifeline of Japan." In 1932, he became Chief of the Japanese Delegation to the League of Nations and in March of next year, he led the Japanese Delegation to withdraw from the League on account of the League's resolution that Japan was an aggressor for invading Manchuria. Upon returning to Japan, he was hailed as a hero for his defiance to the League and soon rewarded with the presidency of the Southern Manchurian Railway Company. In 1940, he became Minister of Foreign Affairs championing the Japanese-German alliance and the "Greater East-Asian Co-prosperity Order." Having reached a Rapprochement with Moscow by signing the treaty of neutrality in April 194 1, he advocated joining forces with Germany to attack the Soviet Union two months later, when Hitler launched the Barbarossa campaign to invade Russia. He died in a Tokyo hospital in 1946.

The Majority of Class A War Criminals Not Tried but Released. Most regrettably was the fact that, of the 70 Japanese apprehended for Class A war criminals, only the first group of 28 people were brought to trial, the rest which was divided into the 2nd and 3rd groups awaited to be tried in Sugamo prison of Tokyo. The International Prosecution Section of the SCAP, then realizing the magnitude of their crimes and the multitude of cases, decided to try the apprehended seventy in three groups, the first group of 28 war criminals all being major leaders in military, political, and diplomatic sphere. The 2nd group of 23 war criminals and the 3rd group of 19 war criminals were notorious, industrial and financial magnates, warmongers engaged in ammunition trade and trafficking in drugs, as well as some less known, but equally rabid, barbaric leaders in military, political, and diplomatic spheres. Notably among them were:

Nobusuke Kishi: Taking charge of industry and commerce of Manchukuo, 1936-40; Minister of Industry and Commerce under Tojo administration; and Prime Minister of Japan, 1957-60, having advocated revision of the new constitution to enlarge the Emperor's authority and curb the Diet's power.

Fusanosuke Kuhara: Leader of the newly-emerging Zaibatsu faction of Seiyukal (Political Friends Society).

Yoshisuke Ayukawa: Sworn-brother of Fusanosuke Kuhara, founder of Japan Industrial Corporation; having gone to Manchuria after the "September 18" Incident, where he founded the Manchurian Heavy Industry Development Company to dominate industry and mining of Manchuria.

Toshizo Nishio: Chief of Staff of the Kwantung Army, Commander-in-Chief of China Expeditionary Army, 1939-41; and Minister of Education.

Kichiburo Ando: Garrison Commander of Port Arthur and Minister of Interior in Tojo's cabinet.

Yoshio Kodama: Radical nationalist behind many coups and assassinations in the 1930s; setting up the Kodama special organ in occupied China engaged in exploiting Chinese resources- and after the war, remaining a major leader of Japanese underworld society.

Kazuo Aoki: Administrator of Manchurian affairs; Minister of Treasury in Nobuyoki Abe's cabinet and then following Abe to China as advisor; Minister of Greater East-Asian Ministry under Tojo.

Masayoki Tani: Ambassador to Manchukuo, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Concurrently Director of Intelligence Bureau; Ambassador to the Nanking puppet government; and after the war Ambassador to the United States.

Eiji Amo: As Chief of Intelligence Section of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Amo issued the "Amo Statement" in 1934, calling upon Western powers not to render assistance to China as the East Asian order was very much the Japanese responsibility; Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs; and Director of Intelligence Bureau in Tojo's cabinet.

Yakijiro Suma: As Consul General at Nanking, Suma was well known to the Chinese owing to his concocting many intrigue, particularly on the eve of the war; in 1938, he served at counselor at the Japanese Embassy at Washington; and after 1941, Minister Plenipotentiary to Spain.

Ryoichi Sasakawa: One of the leading Fascists and Militarists of Japan organized his private army of 15,000 men equipped with 20 warplanes and dressed in black shirt to emulate that of Mussolini, his idol after "September 18, 193 1 " Incident. Following the outbreak of the Pacific War, his army massacred thousands of innocent Chinese and Malayans for which he earned the name of "Tiger of Malaya." After the war, he kept his Mafia business in Japan involving drug trafficking, pornographic enterprises, gambling, and usury that made him the super rich, with which he had become the leading philanthropist of the world; he showered handsome donations to the United Nations, President Carter's Library, and one million dollars each to the leading universities of America.

Moreover all the uncondemned Class A war criminals were set free by Gen. MacArthur in 1947 and 1948. Most of them immediately returned to the Japanese political arena, which was again dominated by the same Fascists and militarists though clad in democratic cloak in disguise. Despite a western-style, democratic Japanese Constitution which MacArthur helped to adopt, Japanese political leaders, unlike their counterparts of West Germany, have run counter to the original promises and inclinations. totally ignoring their legal and moral obligations and responsibilities as a defeated nation, as they have pursued the policy of "Three Nos," no admission of aggression, no repentance and apology, and no compensations to their victims.

"No. One War Criminal" Not Brought to Trial. In both Nuremberg and Tokyo Trials, No. One war criminal was not brought to trial. Undoubtedly, had Hitler lived, he would have been brought to Trial, condemned and hanged as had other eleven Nazi leaders. Ironically, the Emperor's palace was just nearby the site where the Trial took place, but Hirohito, the No. One war criminal was free from being tried, a fact that has intolerably reduced the value of the Tokyo Trial. Before the end of the war, Australia and China had accentuated the necessity of trying the chief culprit Emperor Hirohito, but for the sake of expediency of governing Japan under occupation, the U.S. eventually took off Hirohito from the list of war criminals. Throughout the Trial, the issue of bringing Hirohito to Trial had frequently loomed up. While the debate over whether he should have stood to defend himself or as witness for other defendants had annoyed the postwar Japanese society.

Concerning the issue of the stealthy attack on Pearl Harbor, both Naval Chief of General Staff and Prime Minister Tojo admitted having consulted with Emperor Hirohito, at which Tojo expressed confidence in the result. Then the Presiding Judge Webb commented: "The Emperor then directed that the program be carried out. . . It will remain that the men who advised the commission of a crime, if it be one, are in no worse position than the man who directs the crime be committed." In spite of much he tried to defend Hirohito's innocence, Tojo was obliged to confess that "the Emperor had consented, though reluctantly, to the war" and that "none of us would dare act against the Emperor's will."

From the documents of the General Headquarters of the Army and Navy released by the Japan Defense Administration after the war, some logical conclusions can be easily drawn as follows: (1) All major campaigns, such as those of "August 13" of Shanghai, Wuhan, Changsha, Burma, and "Ichigo" had been meticulously studied by Hirohito before he ordered them to be carried out with his blessings; (2) the appointment or dismissal of a division commander (a division usually having the strength of 16,000 to 22,500 men) must have had the approval of Emperor Hirohito and, more often than not, he would have an audience with the appointee before being announced; and (3) any maneuver of troops above the divisional level and a new division being established had to have his approval. By all accounts, his authority over the army and navy was doubtless greater than Hitler's.

Hirohito's authority was clearly instanced by the following episode. After the Midway debacle on June 5, 1942 (the great loss of the Japanese navy has not been quite appreciated by Western scholars), Japan immediately shifted its strategy in the Pacific from offensive to defensive. In August 1942, U.S. forces launched an offensive, thus unfolding the four-month sanguinary jungle battle for Guadalcanal. For lack of coordination and deficient estimate of U.S. strength, the lives of over 20,000 Japanese soldiers were in jeopardy. Then the Japanese General Headquarters sent its chief of war operation section, Colonel Hattori, to Guadalcanal for an on-the-spot investigation. Hattori flew back to Tokyo on November 1 1, and was received by Emperor Hirohito the next day to present his detailed written report, during which Hirohito said: "As a large U.S. fleet was pressing on Guadalcanal, whether the Army should send reinforcement of its own air force without delay." Afterwards, the Army dispatched its air force to the Southeast Pacific theater but it was too late to save the Japanese army on Guadalcanal. As for the withdrawal of Japanese army from Quadalcanal, Emperor Hirohito on November 28, 1942 issued Ns order saying:

Today the Chief of General Headquarters said that whether or not we withdraw from Guadalcanal will be reported to me on the 30th. I am not satisfied with this kind of as a matter of factly report, but rather I wish to know what is the plan for defeating the enemy. The situation is so serious that the General Hqs. conference should be summoned to discuss the issue. Regardless of the date whether it be the end or the beginning of the year, I will be there. (Important Records of the Japanese Army Warring in China, Tr. Taipei, Bureau of Military History, Defense Ministry, 1992, Vol. 23).

The Imperial Conference was held in Emperor's palace on December 31 to decide the withdrawal from Guadalcanal with Emperor Hirohito presiding. From this, one should not fail to see that Emperor Hirohito was indeed the Conirnander-in-Chief of the Japanese Armed Forces. In fact, why the Japanese surrender procrastinated so long as it did until August 15, 1945, it was chiefly due to Hirohito's dictatorship. A few years ago, a courageous Japanese writer Hisashi Inoue wrote:

In February 1945, for example, as Japan was losing on Asian and Pacific battlefields, Prince Fumimaro Konoe, former prime minister and Imperial counselor, wrote the ruler: 'I believe that defeat, although tragic and regrettable, is inevitable' and urged him to accept the premise of defeat.

Ignoring this plea, Emperor Showa made a tragic mistake. Had he agreed then to a ceasefire, Tokyo would have been spared the air raid of March 10, 1945, when incendiary bombs leveled much of the capital, killing 100,000 people. The U.S. invasion of Okinawa which cost about 260,000 Japanese lives and 50,000 American casualties, would have been avoided. Atomic bombs would not have obliterated Hiroshima and Nagasaki, sparing another 200,000 lives. (The Japan Times Weekly, September 24-30, 1990.)

So that Emperor Hirohito must be held responsible for the deaths of 3 million Japanese, 35 million Chinese, 109,656 Americans, and many million Asian, his guilt was apparently greater than that of Hitler. How can one imagine that this No. One war criminal Kirohito was not brought to justice, as he was allowed to live a full life; when he died in 1989, he was buried with the most pompous funeral of the century. This alone showed the grave failure of the Tokyo Trial and that the sacrifices of Chinese, Japanese, Americans, and Asians were nearly in vain; for this, their souls cannot rest in peace!

All Killers of "Human Experimentation" At Large. Another colossal mistake the Tokyo Trial made was that the U.S. government and Supreme Commander MacArthur struck a deal with Lt. Gen. Ishii Shiro, former commander of Japanese biological warfare Unit 73 1, that he and all members of Unit 731 were to be exonerated from war crimes in exchange for data they had acquired through human experimentation of many thousands of Chinese, Koreans, Soviets, and even U.S. POWs. Without a shadow of doubt, Ishii's crimes had far exceeded those committed by the infamous Nazi doctor Josef Mengele for conducting human experiments, while Unit 731 had murdered the people many times the number of Jews, Gypsies, Polish, and Russians killed by the Nazi doctors!

Before the "Doctors' Trial" at Nuremberg formally began on December 9, 1946, there were 31 secondary war criminals for having conducted human experimentation that were tried at Buchwald, Germany, where many kinds of human experiments took place, and 22 of them were sentenced to death. The "Doctors' Trial" had convicted 16 out of 23 war criminals originally indicted: death sentences to 7 people including Hitler's personal doctor Karl Brandt; 5 life imprisonment; 2 twenty years term-n imprisonment; I twenty and ten years' term each.

Importantly, the I 0-article Nuremberg Code adopted by the "Doctors' Trial has been taken in total by the United Nations and Western countries. Its first article reads: "The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential"; article 4: "The experiment should be so conducted as to avoid all unnecessary physical and mental suffering and injury"; article 9: "During the course of the experiment the human subject should be at liberty to bring the experiment to an end if he has reached the physical or mental state where continuation of the experiment seems to him to be impossible." Hence members of Unit 731 violated not only the Nuremberg code but also the 1925 Geneva Convention which outlaws the use of chemical and biological warfares and of which Japan is a signatory country.

Hundreds of doctors of the former Unit 731 are still practicing or living in retirement in Japan today. We earnestly hope that in their lifetime they could come to terms with the horrendous atrocities they had continued by pleading for forgiveness and making apology to their victims and their bereaved families as well as preparing to pay them fair monetary compensations. In so doing, not only can their souls be saved; in the meantime, they make the least contributions to their posterity and human society, while preserving history and maintaining truth and justice. Otherwise, their victims and families, basing on international laws and resolutions of the United Nations and backed up by millions of Chinese, Asians, and peace-loving people of the world, would take their case to the Japanese and international courts so as to attest that law and morality does exist in the human world.