The IMTFE, also known as the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal
, was an offshoot of the Nuremberg trials
. It was held from May 3, 1946
to November 12, 1948
, and tried 28 of Japan
's 80 Class A war criminal
s, including four of its prime ministers
and a total of nineteen military officers.
The prosecution was led by American Joseph Keenan and consisted of attorneys representing 11 Allied nations: Australia, Canada, France, India, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, the Republic of China, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America. Each of these countries also nominated a judge to the tribunal.
The IMTFE was the first time that Japan's wartime atrocities, including the Rape of Nanking, opium trafficking in China, and biological warfare experiments, were brought into the public eye. Over the two-year course of the trial, two defendants, Matsuoka Yosuke and Nagano Osami, died of natural causes, and a third, Okawa Shumei, became mentally unstable and was sent to an institution, to be released in 1948.
Seven of the remaining 25 defendants were sentenced to hanging:
- General Doihara Kenji, the "Lawrence of Manchuria," for waging war on Allied powers and mistreating POW's
- Baron Hirota Koki, Minister of Foreign Affairs, later prime minister, for Nanking
- General Itagaki Seishiro, Minister of War, for waging war on Allied powers
- General Kimura Heitaro, commander of the Burma Expeditionary Force, for waging war on Allied powers
- General Matsui Iwane, commander of the Shanghai Expeditionary Force, for Nanking
- General Muto Akira, commander of the Philippines Expeditionary Force, for waging war on Allied powers and disregarding rules of war
- General Tojo Hideki, commander of the Kwantung Army, later prime minister, for waging war on Allied powers and mistreating POW's
They were put to death at Sugamo Prison
on the morning of December 23, 1948
Sixteen were sentenced to life imprisonment:
- General Araki Sadao, Minister of War
- Colonel Hashimoto Kingoro, mastermind behind the Manchurian Incident
- Field Marshal Hata Shunroku, Minister of War
- Baron Hiranuma Kiichiro, prime minister, confidant of the Emperor
- Hoshino Naoki, Chief Cabinet Secretary
- Kaya Okinori, opium dealer to the Chinese
- Marquis Kido Koichi, Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal
- General Koiso Kuniaki, governor of Korea, prime minister
- General Minami Jiro, commander of the Kwantung Army
- Admiral Oka Takasumi, Vice Minister of the Navy
- General Oshima Hiroshi, ambassador to Germany
- General Sato Kenryo, chief of the Military Affairs Bureau
- Admiral Shimada Shigetaro, Minister of the Navy
- Shiratori Toshio, ambassador to Italy
- General Suzuki Teiichi, president of the Cabinet Planning Board
- General Umezu Yoshijiro, Vice Minister of War
Shiratori, Koiso, and Umezu died within their first two years in prison. The remaining thirteen were paroled in 1955 after serving only eight years.
Two were given finite prison terms: foreign minister Shigemitsu Mamoru and General Togo Shigenori. Togo died in prison in 1949. Shigemitsu was paroled in 1950 and became foreign minister of Hatoyama Ichiro's cabinet in 1954.
Hirohito, it bears noting, was never even called to testify. He, the rest of the imperial family, and all the related miyake were granted immunity by SCAP. Many obvious war criminals got off scot free because of this.