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Specifically, they asked for 1 any materials related to Japanese Treatment of prisoners of war and civilian internees, including any materials related to forced or slave labor, 2 any materials related to development and use of chemical and biological warfare agents, 3 any materials related to General Ishii the commanding officer of Unit , 4 any materials related to the U. This is why many of the war crimes are still being researched as the declassification didn't happen until the s.

The reason for this disparity is different departments of the U. For example the Office of Strategic Services kept records about Japanese chemical and biological warfare and crimes against both civilians and prisoners of war, while the CIA kept records on Japanese intelligence efforts before and during the war. In addition to the recently released documents, there are many documents that have been available to the public since the end of the war.

Prosecutors used over 4, documents as evidence against the 28 defendants. Furthermore, many Japanese records from the war have been translated into English, thanks to the Allied Translator and Interpreter Section under General MacArthur, who were responsible for gathering and analyzing Japanese documents during and after the war. Unfortunately, many Japanese documents were destroyed by the Japanese themselves in an attempt to protect their leaders from prosecution for war crimes. More were lost when the U. Although originally directed to complete their mission in one year, the IWG continued to work until April , when they presented their final report to Congress.

They declassified 1.

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However, they considered their greatest accomplishment to be their proving that declassification of intelligence documents would not have drastic negative consequences, as was previously thought. The IWG also drew other large conclusions from their efforts. They showed that the reopening of documents and files is a massive, expensive, time-consuming effort, and recommended that all agencies continually review and follow protocols for declassifying their records instead of having to do large projects to search through decades of unopened files.

The reason that these documents remain classified for so long after they became irrelevant was that there was a lack of public interest in Japanese atrocities before and during World War II. In addition, Congress passed a resolution demanding that Japan issue both an apology for the crimes they had committed and pay compensation to surviving victims. However, Japan has never issued a formal apology, and did not provide restitution to their victims.

Greg Bradsher

The documents released thanks to the efforts of the IWG will be resources for researchers and historians who can shed greater light on this dark period of history. Hopefully by learning from the crimes of the past we can prevent any similar atrocities in the future. National Archives. April Read and Learn more on related topic! Is Japan Truly Sorry? To fulfill its ambitions as an asian empire that could rival any formidable western colonial power it needed the raw resources to build such a domain.

I suggest to you that the fact that there are discrepancies in the evidence of the native Witnesses does not lead the Court to an inescapable conclusion that these Witnesses or any of them are lying. In this respect natives are very like children. They have vivid imaginations, and their evidence must be very carefully scrutinised. Similarly, Maj I. As one anthropologist, A. The same observations could be drawn about the Australian Military Courts. Many of the Asian witnesses who appeared before the Courts were unlikely to have been familiar with an adversarial legal system, let alone with the adapted structure and procedures of the field general court-martial system generally used in the trials.

Moreover, there was no common language—while English was the principal language of the Courts, Japanese, Mandarin, Cantonese and pidgin Tok Pisin were also used. As Nancy Armoury Coombs points out in her study of the evidentiary foundations of international criminal convictions, factors such as these can function as impediments to the accurate provision of evidence by witnesses and, consequently, due fact-finding by courts.


The attacks on Asian witnesses during the Rabaul trials were very significant because, in most cases involving Asian victims, the oral or written record of oral evidence of Asian eye-witnesses to the war crimes formed the bulk, if not all, of the prosecution cases. In contrast to the position at the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, there were few, if any Japanese documentary records of war crimes committed in occupied areas that could be tendered in evidence.

Given the lack of written judgments by the Australian Military Courts and thus remarks on the evidence or demeanour of specific witnesses or facts found to be proven, it is impossible to determine to what extent negative submissions about Asian witnesses had an impact on the Courts and affected their consideration of the weight to be given to their evidence.

The rate of conviction at Rabaul, however, perhaps suggests that the Courts found such arguments generally unconvincing. Of accused tried at Rabaul some of these being the same persons appearing in multiple trials , were convicted and were acquitted, amounting to a conviction rate of Although there was an overwhelming Asian presence at the Rabaul series of the Australian war crimes trials, it is certainly probable that the number of trials merely scratched the surface of the war crimes that were committed.

It is physically impossible to punish more than a fraction. That some trial personnel felt it necessary to attempt to discredit Asian witnesses on the basis of their race or ethnicity, well beyond what was usually permitted in attacking veracity, is disappointing, though perhaps not surprising for the period. No doubt, though, if there was a wider knowledge of the Australian war crimes trials, some of the most prevalent criticisms of the various international and domestic war crimes trials of the Japanese—that they did not adequately deal with war crimes committed against Asian victims—would be far less sustainable.

See also Kenneth C. Blamey, the Commander-in-Chief of the Australian Army, for example, was quite unaware of the drafting of the War Crimes Bill and its passage, as he had drafted his own regulations to permit the trial of war criminals and presented it to his Minister on 3 October see the correspondence from Gen Blamey to Mr Frank M.

United States Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Interagency Working Group

Such appointments occurred on several occasions during the Rabaul trial series but the appointments of Chinese National Army officers in cases involving Chinese prisoners-of-war were controversial, as sometimes those officers had been prisoners-of-war together with the prosecution witnesses, leading to defence claims that the Courts were not impartial. For analysis of the war crimes trials held under the Royal Warrant, see A.

It is unclear why the certificate was tendered in this case, as there are many trials in which the name of the victim was unknown. In trials at Rabaul concerning Indian prisoners-of-war, the principle defence was that the Indians were not prisoners-of-war subject to the protection of international law but that, in seeking the independence of India from Britain, they had been released on parole from the status of prisoners-of-war to become of their own free will either members of the Indian National Army, which was collaborating with the Japanese Forces, or volunteer labourers for the Japanese Forces.

The Japanese claimed that it was only after the cessation of hostilities that the Indians asserted that they were prisoners-of-war and had been forcibly made to join the Indian National Army or to serve as labourers. That this section had the effect in practice of depriving the accused of the right to cross-examine the witnesses against him was a common defence complaint.

The written statements of Indian witnesses that were tendered in evidence were, however, translated from languages such as Urdu. My own count is that accused were tried at Rabaul but, if the multiple trials of the same persons are discounted, the total number of individual persons tried was Stationery Office, , All Rights Reserved. OSO version 0. University Press Scholarship Online. Sign in. Not registered? Sign up. Publications Pages Publications Pages. Search my Subject Specializations: Select Find in Worldcat.

World War II Crimes Working Group Issues Final Report to Congress – National Coalition For History

Print Save Cite Email Share. Search within book. Email Address. Library Card. On the rights of inhabitants, he referred the Court to para of the Chapter XIV of the Australian edition of the Manual of Military Law , which set out that: It is the duty of the occupant to see that the lives of inhabitants are respected, that their domestic peace and honour are not disturbed, that their religious convictions are not interfered with, and generally that duress, unlawful and criminal attacks on their persons, and felonious actions as regards their property, are just as punishable as in times of peace.

Wardell, then acting Adjutant-General of the Army, which was running the trials, drafted the response that: A war crime is an offence against the law of nations and it behoves any nation to punish proved breaches against such law, whether committed against its own nationals or those of p. II Numbers and Nature of Asian Victims at the Rabaul Trials It is a sad measure of the nature and extent of Japanese war crimes committed in the Pacific theatre of World War II that the total number of Asian victims whose cases were eventually dealt with at the Rabaul trials cannot be quantified.

Expand all About This Publication. Physical Description xi, p. United States. ISBN Notes Includes bibliographical references.

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Keywords and Subjects. World War, Destruction and pillage--Japan--Sources.