Defendant: Saito, Hiromu, Medical Officer, Hiroshima POW Branch Camp
Docket No./ Date: 39/July 1-31, 1946, Yokohama, Japan
Charge: Violation of the Laws and Customs of War: 1. Did willfully and
unlawfully commit cruel, brutal and inhuman acts, atrocities and other
offenses against certain American, British and other Allied PW's.
Verdict: Life Imprisonment/Only reduced to 30 years confinement at hard
labor by recommendation of Lt. Col. Allan R. Browne, JAGD because he felt
that the accused did wilfully withhold treatment and fail to discharge
his duties as medical officer.
Reviewing Authority's Recommendations: 1. In regards to accused Saito's
"contributing to the death" of prisoner Kellogg, the evidence
does not positively show that the actions or lack of actions by accused
"caused, accellerated or contributed to Kellogg's death." 2.
IN regards to the death of prisoners Slater, there is no allegation from
Major Van Peenan that "the above mentioned acts contributed to, accellerated
or caused the death of Major Slater. It appears that there was a difference
in the diagnoses of the doctors." "It is not a war crime for
a doctor to make an erroneous diagnosis, if it be honestly done."
3. Recommended that only 10 years of the sentence be approved: the remaining
specifications "lack the viciousness and brutality usually found
in the trials of war criminals."
Reviewing Authority: Paul E. Spurlock, Reviewer, Judge Advocate Section
Prosecution Arguments: 1. Accused was the medical officer and medical
supplies at the camp was under control of the accused. 2. Accused issued
very little medicine, even at the request of the prisoner-medical officers.
3. Accused made patients wait for hours for medical attention. 4.Accused
refused to see patients in many incidents, even when requested by the
prisoner-medical officers. 5. Accused refused to send patients to hospital
even when recommended by American physicians. 6. This refusal led to the
death of at least 2 PWs. 7. Accused subjected prisoners to "improper
punishments" and to beatings or severe punishments for no reason
Defense Arguments: 1. Never refused to treat a prisoner. 2. No request
for medicine from the American doctors was denied: but they did not always
get the supplied requested from the main hospital and the Red Cross Materials
stored were for all the branch camps. 3. Accused treated prisoners according
to what condition warranted: accused did not neglect or fail to treat
prisoners. 4. Accused was an honest and conscientious doctor with a good
reputation: patients were never made to work when ill, patients did not
have to wait so long as to cause a prisoner to faint, and there was never
a time when there were as many as 150 prisoners waiting to see the doctor.
Hiroshima Branch camp had to smallest number of sick prisoners and the
smallest number of deaths among the prisoners of the branch camps. 5.
Accused never mistreated or beat prisoners: sometimes subordinates mistook
his words and punished prisoners: he told them to give the prisoners time
for "reflection." 6. Many prisoners preferred staying at camp
rather than going to the hospital because they had their own doctors and
no language difficulty. The camp was also equipped better than the army
Judge Advocate's Recommendations: I think this case shows a sophistication
in terms of the review process. The legal reasoning and the "looking"
at the other trials as the markers for what sentences are adjudged to
be fair can be seen here.