Sunday, May 24, 2009


International Military Tribunal for the Far East

1 November 1948

Chapter VIII
Conventional War Crimes

At the beginning of the Pacific War in December 1941, the Japanese Government did institute a system and an organization for dealing with prisoners of war and civilian internees. Superficially, the system would appear to have been appropriate; however, from beginning to end, the customary and conventional rules of war designed to prevent inhumanity were flagrantly disregarded.


Allegation That the Laws of War Did Not Apply
To the Conduct of the War in China

From the outbreak of the Mukden Incident till the end of the war, the successive Japanese Governments refused to acknowledge that the hostilities in China constituted a war. They persistently called it an "Incident." With this as an excuse, the military authorities persistently asserted that the rules of war did not apply in the conduct of the hostilities.


Captives Taken in the China War Were Treated as Bandits
The Japanese Delegate at Geneva, in accepting the resolution of the League of Nations of 10 December 1931 (...) maintained that (...) those Chinese troops who resisted the Japanese Army were not lawful combatants, but were merely "bandits."


Torture and Other Inhumane Treatment
The practice of torturing prisoners of war and civilian internees prevailed at practically all places occupied by Japanese troops, both in the occupied territories and in Japan. The Japanese indulged in this practice during the entire period of the Pacific War. Methods of torture were employed in all areas so uniformly as to indicate policy both in training and execution. Among these tortures were the water treatment, burning, electric shocks, the knee spread,


suspension, kneeling on sharp instruments and flogging.

The Japanese Military Police, the Kempetai, was most active in inflicting these tortures. Other Army and Navy units, however, used the same methods as the Kempetai. Camp guards also employed similar methods. Local police forces organized by the Kempetai in the occupied territories also applied the same methods of torture.

We will show how the Chiefs of Camps were instructed in Tokyo before assuming their duties. We will also show that these Chiefs of Camps were under the administrative control and supervision of the


Prisoner of War Administration Section of the Military Affairs Bureau of the War Ministry to which they rendered monthly reports. The Kempetai were administered by the War Ministry. A Kempetai training school was maintained and operated by the War Ministry in Japan. It is a reasonable inference that the conduct of the Kempetai and the camp guards reflected the policy of the War Ministry.

To indicate the prevalence of torture and the uniformity of the methods employed we give a brief summary of these methods.

The so-called "water treatment" was commonly applied. The victim was bound or otherwise secured in a prone position; and water was forced through his mouth and nostrils into his lungs and stomach until he lost consciousness. Pressure was then applied, sometimes by jumping upon his abdomen to force the water out. The usual practice was to revive the victim and successively repeat the process. (...)


The System
(...) "the question of whether Chinese captives would be treated as prisoners of war or not was quite a problem, and it ws finally decided in 1938 that because the Chinese conflict was officially known as an 'incident' although it was really a war, that Chinese captives would not be regarded as prisoners of war."

I would point out that these excerpts are not from indictments or arguments. They are from the judgment against the Japanese defendants. 25 of them were still around at the end of the trial, and all of them were found guilty. Seven were executed, and sixteen were sentenced to life in prison. One of the remaining two died in prison, and the other one went on to be appointed Japanese foreign minister. Presumably, Cheney has studied the last case very carefully.

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