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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: Mabuchi, Masaaki, Captain

Docket No./ Date: 25/ April 5 - 20, 1946, Yokohama, Japan

Charge: 1. Willfully and unlawfully committed a cruel, inhuman, and brutal atrocity against an American POW 2. Failure to control and restrain member of his command permitting them to commit wantan and inhuman atrocities against the dead body of said PW


Verdict: Death by hanging/ Setence Upheld

Reviewing Authority's Recommendations: 1. "Even supposing the act charged to have been in fact a so-called mercy killing, however, it was none the less a crime under the Geneva Conventions, under International Law, and even under the Japanese Criminal Code....While evidence of accused's motives may well be considered in connection with clemency, in that they mitigate the subjective guilt attached to an unlawful killing, they do not alter the fact that accsed committed a crime." However, the reviewer find that had it truly been a mercy killing, according to a Bushido Code, the act would have taken earlier rather than when the flyer was unconscious, there would have been an honorable disposal of the body, and it would have been a private affair, not done to the "laughter, applause and shots accompanying it." Furthermore, the conduct of the accused after the incident and after the termination of hostilites and upon learning of the discovery of the body shows that he was not "sincere" in their claims that they were "motivated by what to them were high ideals."

Reviewing Authority: Edward A. Doering, Reviewer, Judge Advocate Section

Prosecution Arguments:

Defense Arguments: 1. Injured prisoner was killed to "cease the suffering of the injured" - it was understood by defendant that the prisoners would die anyway, "were beyond help." He considered the "act of beheading as one or mercy, under the circumstances, in keeping with the Bushido Code." 2. Permitted bayonetting of the corpse for the sake of giving his command "confidence and self assurance for their mission."

Judge Advocate's Recommendations:

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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