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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: Kameoka, Yoshio, Civilian interpreter, Osaka Area POW Camp No. 11, Arumi, Honshu, Japan

Docket No./ Date: 41/ June 16-26, 1946, Yokohama, Japan

Charge: Violation of the Laws and Customs of War: 1. Did willfully and unlawfully commit cruel and brutal acts, atrocities and other offenses against certain American PWs.


Verdict: Life Imprisonment/Reduced to 25 years confinement at hard labor by Allan R. Browne, Lt. Col. JAGD not because of insufficiency of proof but merely excessive sentencing.

Reviewing Authority's Recommendations: Record is legally sufficient to support the findings of the commission. In regards to the highly contradictory affidavits in specification 2, reviewer believes that "the manner in which the specification is pleaded leaves the defense in a state of confusion and in a position where it is impossible, under the evidence offered, to have a fair chance to defend it properly." So, the finding of guilty is disapproved. Not only in specification 2 but in regards to the affidavits and the testimonies brought by the defense, the "entire charges against the accused are not well supported." In regards to the sentence given, the reviewer believes that the sentence to life imprisonment is unjust: "it is not desirable to establish a rule for punishments in war crime cases because of the difference in the type of crimes and the degree of brutality in each case but it might be well to consider sentences in other commission trials to show the injustice of the punishment in the present case." Reviewer recommends 10 years confinement because "many specifications of horrible atrocities...are conspicuously absent in the present case" unlike the other cases where individuals have received life sentences.

Reviewing Authority: Paul E.Spurlock, Reviewer, Judge Advocate Section

Prosecution Arguments: Accused beat, slapped, kicked, and used various forms of extreme punishment such as standing at attention for many hours on prisoners for infractions of disciplinary rules. In an interrogation at Sugamo Prison on 13 February 1946, accused admitted to beating a few prisoners for stealing food but he claimed that he "did not beat them very hard."

Defense Arguments: 1. Accused denied beating prisoners. 2. Accused could not have beaten prisoners as they were returning from work because he returned home by 6 p.m. and it took an hour to return home by streetcar. 3. Accused could not remember having admitting to beating a few prisoners for stealing food while at Sugamo prison.

Judge Advocate's Recommendations: Lt. Col. Browne's opinion in regards to the reviewer's opinions(page 431):"Defense affidavits concerning the Waggoner event did not name accused as participating but neither did they purport to mention all involved. None excluded accused from the beatings...Minor inconsistencies appear in affidavits in evidence with respect to each specification. None appears of sufficient importance to destroy or weaken the probative value of the subject matter. Experienced jurists regard unimportant differences in testimony ordinarily as of no moment and often as the earmark of evidence which has not been prearranged." In regards to Spurlock's claim that the gravity of beatings was not there, he writes, "yet the evidence to the beating alone revealed an aggravated offense much worse than the ordinary type encountered in WAr Crimes Trials. The accused, possessed a sadistic nature to which he gave full vent" is shown by exhibits. The "excuse that he was trained in the brutal atmosphere of the Japanese imperialists is not available to him for he has lived under the American flag and knows democratic ways."

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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