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World War II Pacific Theater Case Synopses from Judge Advocate's Reviews Yokohama Class B and C War Crimes Trials

Defendant: Honda, Hiroji: Commander of POW Camp 1B Yunoto and 2B Yoshinwara

Docket No./ Date: 5/ Jan. 17, 1946, Yokohama, Japan

Charge: 1. Violation of the Law and Customs of War - "committed crual and brutal atrocities and other offenses against allied POWs and permitted persons under his control to commit cruel and brutal atrocities and other offenses against allied POWs."


Verdict: Sentence of 20 years imprisonment upheld/ Found guilty only under "command responsibility"

Reviewing Authority's Recommendations: Prosecution, having failed to include any specifications of the accused committing atrocities, did not actually prove the defendant guilty on this account. The case as one of command responsibility only. All the specifications of charges under command responsibility are limited to those violations of the laws of war that the accused is alleged to have permitted. Despite the differences, contradictions and inconsistencies in the prosecution's evidence, the accused's failure to take "sufficient measure to insure the health and proper treatment of the prisoners charged to his care" was shown. The offenses were committed over "such a period of time and in such a consistent manner, in the open and under the constructive if not actual scrutiny of the camp commander" as to find the accused guilty.

Reviewing Authority: Allan R. Browen, Lt. Colonel, J.A.G.D. Staff Judge Advocate

Prosecution Arguments:

Defense Arguments: 1. Denied mistreatment of prisoners - some things such as the climate of the location were out of his control and out of the control of the district director, to whom he appealed. Also, the prisoners worked alongside Japanese miners and in fact, the mine where prisoners worked was in better condition than the other alternatives. 2. Denied seeing or knowing of mistreatment of prisoners, except in 4 or 5 cases, where after investigation, he severely reprimanded both the offenders and the mining company 3.Accused had no direct authority over mine officials and employees

Judge Advocate's Recommendations: This case is interesting to me because the accused was found guilty by the reviewer under command responsibility only. However, there was proof to show that the accused had reprimanded the company for their mistreatment of the POWs and furthermore, it was shown that there was inconsistencies in the prosecution's timeline, so that many offenses were not absolutely known to have taken place under the accused. I think it is also interesting about the severe winder and the condition of the British prisoners as opposed to the Dutch ones.

Child Testifying in Court in Manila.
Photo: U.S. Army, courtesy of Bob Harmon

The trial records of Japanese War Criminals Tried at Yokohama, Japan, between 1946 and 1949 is broken into 2 sets:

  1. 59 reels - Records of Trials and Clemency Petitions for Accused Japanese War Criminals Tried at Yokohama, Japan (1946-1948)
  2. 5 reels - Reviews of the Yokohama Class B and C war crimes Trials by the 8th Army judge Advocate (1946-1949)

The following is a summary of the corresponding case found in the latter group (5-reel set of Judge Advocate's Reviews). Analysis Prepared by Stella Lee Researcher, War Crimes Studies Center

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