~ 720th Military Police Battalion Reunion Association History Project ~
International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE).
War Crimes Trials ~ Occupied Japan
1946 ~ 1948

6 October 1945 General Douglas MacArthur received a directive, soon approved by the other Allied powers, granting him the authority to proceed with the major trials and giving him basic guidelines for their conduct. As they had done in Germany, the Allies set up three broad categories.

"Class A" charges alleging "crimes against peace" were to be brought against Japan's top leaders who had planned and directed the war.

Class B and C charges, which could be leveled at Japanese of any rank, covered "conventional war crimes" and "crimes against humanity," respectively.

November The supreme commander was given authority to purge other war time leaders from public life. Again, MacArthur moved quickly: by December 8 he had set up an international prosecution section under former U.S. assistant attorney general Joseph Keenan, which began gathering evidence and preparing for the high-profile Class A trials.


19 January 1946 GEN MacArthur announced the establishment of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMFTE), and a few weeks later selected its eleven judges from names submitted to him by the governments sitting on the Allied Far Eastern Commission (Australia, Canada, China, France, Great Britain, India, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, the Soviet Union and the United States of America).

        He also named Joseph Keenan (former Assistant U.S. Attorney General) the chief prosecutor and Australian Sir William Webb the tribunal's president.

Photograph A0054: Judges of the IMTFE, Tokyo, Japan, 1946-1948. Back Row (Left to Right): Radhabinod Pal-India, B.V.A. Roling-Netherlands, Edward Stuart McDougall-Canada, Henri Bernard-France, Harvey Northcroft-New Zealand, and Delfin Jaranilla-Philippines. Front Row (Left to Right): Lord Patrick-United

Kingdom, MG Cramer-U.S. Replaced US judge John P. Higgins in July 1946, Sir William Webb-Australia, Ju-ao Mei-China, and MG I.M. Zarayanov-Soviet Union (Russia). Courtesy of U.S. Military Archives.
       Of the eighty "Class A" war criminal suspects detained in the Sugamo prison after 1945, twenty-eight high-ranking political and military leaders were indicted on 55 counts of "crimes against peace, conventional war crimes, and crimes against humanity."

        The accused included nine civilians and nineteen professional military men:

Four former premiers: Hiranuma, Hirota, Koiso, Tojo;
Three former foreign ministers: Matsuoka, Shigemitsu, Togo.
Four former war ministers: Araki, Hata, Itagaki, Minami
Two former navy ministers: Nagano, Shimada.
Six former generals: Doihara, Kimura, Matsui, Muto, Sato, Umezu.
Two former ambassadors: Oshima, Shiratori.
Three former economic and financial leaders: Hoshino, Kaya, Suzuki.
One imperial adviser: Kido.
One radical theorist: Okawa.
One admiral: Oka.
One colonel: Hashimoto.

Photograph A0055: Defendants Dock of the International

Military (War Crimes) Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE), Tokyo, Japan,1946-1948. Courtesy of U.S. Military Archives.
Count 1: as "leaders, organizers, instigators, or accomplices in the formulation or execution of a common plan or conspiracy .. to wage wars of aggression, and war or wars in violation of international law."
Count 27: waging unprovoked war against China.
Count 29: waging aggressive war against the United States.
Count 31: waging aggressive war against the British Commonwealth.
Count 32: waging aggressive war against the Netherlands.
Count 33: waging aggressive war against France (Indochina).
Count 35 & 36: waging aggressive war against the USSR.
Count 54: "ordered, authorized, and permitted" inhumane treatment of Prisoners of War (POWs) and others.
Count 55: "deliberately and recklessly disregarded their duty" to take adequate steps to prevent atrocities.

3 May 1946 The trials in Tokyo began and lasted two and a half years.

4 November 1948 Sir William Webb (Tribunal President), announced that all of the defendants had been found guilty. Seven were sentenced to death, sixteen to life terms, two to lesser terms, two had died during the trials and one had been found insane.


Hiranuma, Kiichiro-life in prison, died 1952. Privy Council, 1924-39; founder and president, Kokuhonsha (right-wing patriotic society), 1926-28; premier, 1938; minister of home affairs, 1940; minister without portfolio, 1940-41; president, Privy Council, 1945. Convicted on crimes 1, 27, 29, 31, 32, 36.

Hirota, koki-death by hanging. Ambassador to the Soviet Union, 1928-31; foreign minister, 1933-36; premier, 1936-37. Was foreign minister during the Rape of Nanking and other atrocities perpetrated by the army. As premier, he led his cabinet in planning the invasions of Southeast Asia and the Pacific islands, in addition to continuing the undeclared war against China. Convicted on Counts 1, 27, 55.

Koiso, Kuniaki-life in prison, died in prison 1950. Vice minister of war, 1932; chief of staff, Kwantung Army, 1932-34; army commander in Korea, 1935-38; minister of overseas affairs, 1939; governor-general, Korea, 1942-44; premier 1944-45. Was known among the Korean population as "the Tiger of Korea" because of his brutality. As premier, he was aware of POW death camps. Convicted on Counts 1, 27, 29, 31, 32, 55.

Tojo, Hidecki-death by hanging. Chief, Manchurian secret police, 1935; councillor, Manchurian Affairs Bureau, 1936; chief of staff, Kwantung Army, 1937-38; vice minister of war, 1938; minister of war 1940-44; premier, 1941-44. Considered the arch-criminal of the Pacific War. Tojo assumed full responsibility for all the actions of his government and the military during the war. Convicted on Counts 1, 27, 29, 31, 32, 33, 54.


Foreign Ministers
Matsuoka, Yosuke -died during trial.

Shigemitsu, Mamoru- 7 years in prison, paroled in 1950, he reentered the political arena and was appointed foreign minister in 1954. Ambassador to China, 1931-32; vice minister of foreign affairs, 1933-36; ambassador to the Soviet Union, 1936-38; ambassador to Great Britain, 1938-41; foreign minister, 1943-45. He and General Umezu signed the instrument of surrender in 1945. Convicted on Counts 27, 29, 31, 32, 33, 55. Sentenced to seven years in prison.

Togo, Hideki- 20 years in prison. Ambassador to Germany, 1937; ambassador to the Soviet Union, 1938; foreign minister, 1941-42, 1945. Convicted on Counts 1, 27, 29, 31, 32.


War Ministers
Araki, Sadao-life in prison. Minister of war, 1931-34; Supreme War Council, 1934-36; minister of education 1938-39; senior adviser to the cabinet, 1939-40. An early advocate of Japanese military expansionism. While education minister, he restructured the Japanese school system along military lines. Convicted on Counts 1 and 27. Paroled in 1955.

Hata, Shunroku-life in prison, paroled in 1954. Hata, Field Marshal Shunroku (1879-1962). Supreme War Council, 1937; commander, China Expeditionary Force, 1938, 1941-44; minister of war, 1939-40. One of the militarists who planned the invasion of China in the 1930s. He was in overall command of troops who perpetrated countless atrocities against Chinese civilians. Convicted on Counts 1, 27, 29, 31, 32, 55.

Itagaki, Seishiro-death by hanging. Chief of staff, Kwantung Army, 1936-37; minister of war, 1938-39; chief, army general staff, 1939; commander in Korea, 1941; Supreme War Council, 1943; commander in Singapore, 1945. Troops under his command in China and elsewhere terrorized prisoners and civilians. Was responsible for prison camps in Java, Sumatra, Malaya, Borneo and elsewhere. Convicted on Counts 1, 27, 29, 31, 32, 35, 36, 54.

Minami, Jiro-life in prison, paroled in 1954. Minister of war, 1931; Supreme War Council, 1931-34; commander, Kwantung Army, 1934-36; governor-general, Korea, 1936-42; privy Council, 1942-45. An early leader of the army clique that controlled Japan in the 1930s and 1940s. Ruled Japan's Korean colony with an iron fist. Convicted on Counts 1 and 27.


Navy Ministers

Nagano, Osami-died during trial.

Shimada, Shigetaro-life in prison, paroled in 1955. Vice chief of naval staff, 1935-37; commander, China Fleet, 1940; navy minister, 1941-44; Supreme War Council, 1944. Authorized the naval surprise attacks in December 1941. Naval units under his overall command massacred Allied POWs, transported prisoners and civilian internees aboard hellships, and killed any surviving crew members of torpedoed Allied ships. Convicted on Counts 1, 27, 29, 31, 32.



Doihara, Kengi -death by hanging. Commander, Kwantung Army, 1938-40; Supreme War Council, 1940-43; army commander in Singapore, 1944-45. Deeply involved in the army's drug trafficking in Manchuria. Later ran brutal POW and internee camps in Malaya, Sumatra, Java and Borneo. Convicted on counts 1, 27, 29, 31, 32, 35, 36, 54.

Kimura, Heitaro-death by hanging. Chief of staff, Kwantung Army, 1940-41; vice minister of war, 1941-43; Supreme War Council, 1943; army commander in Burma, 1944-45. Helped plan the China and Pacific wars, including surprise attacks. Involved in the brutalization of the Allied POWs and was the field commander in Burma when civilian and POW slave labor built and died on the Siam-Burma Railway. Convicted on Counts 1, 27, 29, 31, 32, 54, 55.

Matsui, Iwane-death by hanging. Personal appointee of the emperor to the Geneva Disarmament Conference, 1932-37; commander, China Expeditionary Force, 1937-38. Troops under his overall command were responsible for the Rape of Nanking in 1937 and other atrocities. He retired in 1938 and then ceased to play an active role in military affairs. Convicted on Count 55. He was one of 14 Class A war criminals who were secretly enshrined as "matyrs" at the Yasukuni Shrine, which is dedicated to Japan's war dead and is Japan's most revered Shinto temple.

Muto, Akira-death by hanging. Vice chief of staff, China Expeditionary Force, 1937; director, military Affairs Bureau, 1939-42; army commander in Sumatra, 1942-43; army chief of staff in the Philippines, 1944-45. Troops under his command participated in both the Rape of Nanking and the Rape of Manila. Convicted on Counts 1, 27, 29, 31, 32, 54, 55.

Sato, Kenryo-life in prison, paroled in 1956. Sato, General Kenryo (1895-1975). Section head, then chief, Military Affairs Bureau, 1942-44; assistant chief of staff, China Expeditionary Force, 1944; army commander in Indochina, 1945. Convicted on Counts 1, 27, 29, 31, 32.

Umezu, Yoshijiro-life in prison, died in prison 1949. Section chief, general staff, 1931-34; commander, China Expeditionary Force, 1934; vice minister of war, 1939-44; army chief of staff, 1944-45. Convicted on Counts 1, 27, 29, 31, 32.



Oshima, Hiroshi -life in prison, paroled in 1955. Military attache in Germany, 1934-38; ambassador to Germany, 1938-39, 1941-45. Helped forge the Axis Pact with Germany and Italy and was an intimate of Hilter, Himmler, Goring, and Ribbentrop. Convicted on Count 1.

Shiratori, Toshio-life in prison, died in prison 1949. Director, Information Bureau, Foreign Ministry, 1929-33; ambassador to Italy, 1938-40; adviser tot the foreign minister, 1940. A supporter of military expansionism, he favored an alliance among Germany, Italy the Soviet Union and Japan to dominate the world. Convicted on Count 1.


Economic and financial leaders

Hoshino, Naoki-life in prison, paroled in 1955. Chief of financial affairs, Manchukuo (Manchuria), 1932-34; director of general affairs (chief civilian officer), Manchukuo, 1936; minister without portfolio, 1940-41; chief cabinet secretary, 1941-44. Convicted on Counts 1, 27, 29, 31, 32.

Kaya, Okinori-life in prison, paroled in 1955. Minister of finance, 1937-38, 1941-44; president, North China Development Company, 1939-41. An early advocate of selling narcotics to the Chinese to finance the expenses of the occupation forces. Convicted on Counts 1, 27, 29, 31, 32.

Suzuki, Teiichi-life in prison, paroled in 1955. Chief, China Affairs Bureau, 1938-41; president, Cabinet Planning Board, and minister without portfolio, 1941-43; adviser to the cabinet, 1943-44. An early and active supporter of militarism. Involved in Japan's drug trafficking in China and approved the use of POWs and civilians as slave laborers. Convicted on Counts 1, 27, 29, 31, 32.


Imperial Adviser

Kido, Koichi-life in prison, paroled in 1955. Chief secretary to the lord keeper of the privy seal, 1930-37; minister of education, 1937; minister of welfare, 1938; minister of home affairs, 1939; lord keeper of the privy seal 1940-45. Was Emperor Hirohito's closest adviser during the most critical periods of the wars with China and the Allies. His secret diary, which he kept during all of his time at or near the seat of power, was the prosecution's bible during much of the Tokyo trial. Convicted on Counts 1, 27, 29, 31, 32.


Radical Theorist

Okawa, Shumei-suffered a mental breakdown on the first day of trial, was sent to a psychiatric ward and was released in 1948 a free man.


Oka, Takasumi-life in prison, paroled in 1954. Chief, Naval Affairs Bureau, 1940-44; vice minister of the navy, 1944. An important participant in planning the surprise attacks perpetrated by Japanese naval forces during the second week in December 1941. Also administered some POW and civilian to shoot survivors of torpedoed Allied ships. Convicted on Counts 1, 27, 29, 31, 32.



Hashimoto, Kingoro-life in prison, paroled in 1954. Held various commands, including that of an artillery regiment during the Rape of Nanking in 1937. Played a major role in staging the Mukden Incident, which eventually led to war with China. Author of political books of racist propaganda, he was important in mobilizing Japanese public opinion behind the Pacific War. Convicted on Counts 1 and 27.

After reviewing their decisions, MacArthur expressed his regrets but praised the work of the tribunal and upheld the verdicts. Although calling the duty "utterly repugnant to me," MacArthur went on to say, "No human decision is infallible but I can conceive of no judicial process where greater safeguard was made to evolve justice."

23 December 1948 The seven prisoners sentenced to death were hung at Sugamo Prison between 0008-0035 hours. MacArthur, afraid of embarrassing and antagonizing the Japanese people, defied the wishes of President Truman and barred photography of any kind, instead bringing in four members of the Allied Council to act as official witnesses.

Edited from: People & Events, The Tokyo War Crimes Trials (1946-1948), www.pbs.org... BASIC FACTS ON THE NANKING MASSACRE and THE TOKYO WAR CRIMES TRIAL, by New Jersey Hong Kong Network (1990)... Stephen's Study Room, British Military & Criminal History in the period 1900 to 1999, War Crimes Trials - IMTFE.

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