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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: Murakami, Yoneo, Civilian Guard and Camp Quartermaster in charge of supplies at Amagasaki PW Camp, Osaka, Japan

Docket No./ Date: 153/ June 2-3, 1947, Yokohama, Japan

Charge: Violation of the law and customs of war: 1. Did willfully and unlawfully mistreat and abuse PWs (spec 1-3, 5-6)

Specifications: beating using among others clubs, belts, weapons, rope, fists, buckles;

Verdict: 5 years CHL

Reviewing Authority's Recommendations: Accused forced sick PWs to work and beat PWs for refusing to do so. The PW surgeon was also beaten by the accused for trying to prevent the beatings of sick PWs, for not signing for Red Cross sugar intended for the PWs, for insisting that Red Cross supplies be not stolen and confiscated by the Japanese. Accused beat PWs with belts, sticks and rope for altering their clothing because it was too large for them. Accused also brutally beat PW for actions not done by that PW but a violation of an order committed by one in that PWs group. Accused assaulted PWs for no reason and seemed to enjoy "provoking situations which resulted in their being punished unnecessarily." Accused beat PWs for not obeying his commands, including when they failed to hear it or for not shouting one's number loud enough

Reviewing Authority: Accused admitted to striking the PW surgeon but only because the latrines were not clean and the PW surgeon was in charge of sanitation/hygiene; accused admitted to slapping and striking PWs forr taking clothing to the latrine and altering clothes. But, he never struck these individuals hard enough to require hospitalization or to even draw blood. He stated that he struck PWs to "correct their faults just as he had been struck when he took his training in the Japanese Army."

Prosecution Arguments: There are no irregularities which injuriously affect any substantial rights of the accused; there is no evidence that the accused was not sane at the alleged time of the offenses or at the time of trial. The record is legally sufficient to support the findings of the commission. While the dates given by some of the affiants were in question, the other evidence given in each specification clearly established that the affiant was only in error about the year but not about the circumstances, acts and the accused as the perpetrator of the acts. In response to the defense request that the court take judicial notice of the fact that corporal punishment was a feature of the Japanese army, the reviewer stated that "whether the punishment administered by the accused on the international prisoners of war was in accordance with Japanese standards, is entirely irrelevant....insofar as such standards and practices conflict with those established by international agreement, the former must yield to the latter." The evidence showed the vicious and cruel intentions of the accused in perpetration of these acts.

Defense Arguments: F. R. Undritz, Lt. Col., INF, Asst. Staff Judge Advocate

Judge Advocate's Recommendations: Allan R. Browne, JAG: Comments about procedure made: alterations in the records were not initialed by the president, prosecutor and defense counsel. But, in such cases, "a statement may properly be appended, signed by the party initiating it, calling attention of the reviewing authority to alleged mistakes by the reporter." This, however, did not prejudice the accused in this trial.

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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