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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: Ikegami, Uichi, 1st Lieutenant, Camp Commander, POW Camp #133, Sasebo(?)

Docket No./ Date: 23/ May 2-4, 1946, Yokohama, Japan

Charge: 1. Did unlawfully mistreat, torture and kill a PW (spec 1) 2. Did willfully and unlawfully mistreat and torture PW (spec 2, 3) 3. Did willfully and unlawfully disregard and fail to discharge his duty as commanding officer to restrain and control members of his command by ordering or permitting commission of cruel and brutal atrocities and other offense against POWs

Specifications: beating using among others club, stick, pick handle, baseball bat; causing PW to be beaten; confining PW in the guardhouse wihtout sufficient food, water or clothing for an unreasonable period of time;

Verdict: Death by hanging/Reviewer recommended commutation of sentence to 25 years at hard labor/ Sentence upheld by the Commanding Officer of the JAGD

Reviewing Authority's Recommendations: 1. Overlapping of specifications - there was error in proceeding with a trial on both specifications, but it is "not necessarily fatal." But, this is obviated by the disapproval of the guilty finding by the reviewing authority. 2. Accused's action in the case of the POW who died in solitary confinement was unlawful but not sufficient to prove the charge. Confining a prisoner in the condition that the deceased was in is "indefensible." There is evidence that the accused administered and ordered corporal punishment. But, this was "one of many contributing factors which occurred prior to the death. The finding of guilty of Specification 1 as charged is too broad to be considered as adequately supported by the evidence" because the charge is tantamount to "murder or manslaughter." The accused is relieved of responsibility because of his prolonged absence from the camp when the prisoner actually died.

Reviewing Authority: Edward A. Doering, Reviewer, Judge Advocate Section/ Allan R. Browne, Lt. Colonel, Army Judge Advocate/ R. L. Eichelberger, Lt. General, U.S. Army, Commanding

Prosecution Arguments: Accused ordered mass punishments for offenses(getting in fights, possession of cigarette lighter, cutting an issued blanket to make socks) committed by identified individual PWs; accused took an active part in these mass punishments as well.

Defense Arguments: 1. Explained circumstances of one POWs death - an investigation, trial and judgement was made. The POW was ordered to solitary confinement, where he died 3 days later. He did not order the beating of the prisoner nor was the prisoner beaten to his knowledge. 2. Under the navy, the conditions in the camp were bad and mistreatment was common. So, one mass beating was agreed upon because of the pressure from the navy for more discipline of the POWs. Otherwise, the navy threatened to "take matters into their own hands." No other mass beating took place. 3. No time did he ever order the beating of prisoners by guards or beat them individually himself.

Judge Advocate's Recommendations: That the Reviewing authority mitigating the finding of guilt in the case of the prisoner, Knox, who died in solitary confinement on the defendant's orders is astonishing. His reasoning is astonishing because it is so against the whole idea of "victor's justice." Furthermore, the standard of responsibility seems to be getting redefined here. This case should be reviewed.

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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