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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: Watanabe, Katsunosuke, Civilian Policeman, Commander of Yamakita Camp No. 1

Docket No./ Date: 142/ Jun 17-24, 1947, Yokohama, Japan

Charge: Violation of the laws and customs of war: 1 Did unlawfully disregard and fail to discharge his duty by refusing and failing to authorize and provide necessary medical caree, hospitalization and medicines to POW (spec 1) 2. Did willfully and unlawfully, on several occasions, mistreat and abuse POWs (spec 2,9) 3. Did unlawfully misappropriate, withhold and convert to his own use food intended for the use and benefit of the Allied civilian internees (spec 8) 4. Did unlawfully disregard and fail to discharge his duty to control and restrain members of his command and persons under his supervision and control by permitting the to unlawfully mistreat, torture and abuse Allied Civilian Internees (spec. 10)

Specifications: beating using among others stick, fists; forcing individual to sit on bed for days; refusal to permit civilian internee to be seen by a doctor; cutting down food rations; giving food to visitors rather than internees; taking home food on the weekends that was supposed to be from internees' rations;

Verdict: 12 years CHL

Reviewing Authority's Recommendations: Accused refused to give permission to get a doctor for a sick civilian internee even when asked by the civiian in charge of the infirmary. Accused beat, abused and mistreated and ordered his subordinates to beat civilian internees for no actual reason, except for the confession of stealing which was made while being beat on one occasion. Accused also deprived these mistreated and abused internees of privileges at the camp that included food and clothing. Food that was supposed to go to the internees was seen being carried out by guests of the accused; he cut down rations of the internees as well. The accused did nothing to take measures to prevent beatings of civilian internees despite complaints about beatingss.

Reviewing Authority: Accused stated that he had called for the doctor but the doctor was out;; he never refused to call a doctor. When he left camp, he told subordinates to get hold of a dcotr. He admitted to striking the civilian internees mentioned in the spec. on 3 occasions each for stealing, but never hard enough to blow out his eye or ear. The Prefecture prescribed the amount of food to be given to each individual; he had no control over it. There was allotted rations for his official guests; others brought their own food with them. He did not use them for his own purposes nor did he give his guests their food. He never told his subordinates to strike internees; he forbid it.

Prosecution Arguments: In response to the request for clemency submitted by the law member and the defense Motion for Disapproval of Findings and Modificatio of Sentence, the revieweer stated the following; "in view…of the plea for clemency by the law member, supra, and of the fact that out of a group of approximately 50 internees, practically all of the offenses were provoked by only 2 persons...a demented internee, whose behavior was very unusual and aggravatinjg, and Quini, whose conduct could certainly not be considered above reproach, which fact although not condoning the offenses is such as to merit consideration in mitigation of the sentencer, it is recommended" that the motion be granted and sentence reduced to 8 years.

Defense Arguments: C.T. McEniry, Lt. Col., QMC, Reviewer

Judge Advocate's Recommendations: Allan R. Browne, Lt. Col. JAGD, stated that he felt the sentence to be appropriate and not excessive becausee the evidence indicates that a "pattern of cruelties existee in the camp of about 50 internees commanded by the accussed to the extent that he had constructive knowledge thereof. In fact, he was personally present when his guards and internee Downs brutally mistreated prisoners; yet he did nothing to deter the offendors. Under the proof of multiple mistreatments involving many separate abuses, the sentence...is believes to be appropriate and not excessive."

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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