Researching Japanese War Crimes Records Introductory Essays

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Edward Drea, Greg Bradsher, Robert Hanyok, James Lide, "Researching Japanese War Crimes Records: Introductory Essays"
2006 | ISBN-10: 1880875284 | 232 pages | PDF | 3 MB

This is a technical manual and essential guidebook not only for those who wish to seriously research Japanese War Crimes, but also for researchers interested in POW affairs and biological and chemical warfare testing in general. Substantial part of intelligence efforts relating to Japan related to efforts to recover captured Allied military personnel. The authors also thoroughly discuss what records are available on this topic, and how it happened that bulk of these records was returned after the War to Japan. The most sensitive part of this book can be found in the end: the decision not to pursue trials with Japanese war criminals for their experiments with bacteriological and chemical warfare on humans; and exploitation of Class A war criminals by the U.S. authorities as intelligence assets in containment of communism in Asia.

Introduction (Edward Drea): war crimes committed by the Japanese against other Asians concerned few Americans, except for mistreatment of Allied POWs. This changed after publication of The Rape of Nanking in 1997. After this, U.S. veterans renewed claims against the Japanese government, survivors of experiments which took place at Ishii's Unit 731 spoke up, and the issue of "comfort women" resurfaced. Whilst Germany accepted responsibility for WW2 and apologized, Japan rejected any responsibility for WW2 atrocities. Many senior Japanese Class A criminals escaped justice, including Ishii Shiro. Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal resulted in conviction of 25 defendants, whilst the Soviet led Khabarovsk trial brought to trial 5.379 of them and convicted 4.300. In 2000, U.S. Congress passed the Japanese Imperial Government Disclosure Act, and the Interagency Working Group was created. Despite systematic destruction of Japanese records in the end of the WW2, the Marines and OSS managed to seize large numbers of documents. Unit 731 records concerning biological and chemical warfare fell in the Soviet hands. The main focus of the U.S. authorities was on individuals responsible for Pearl Harbor, mistreatment of U.S. POWs, and war crimes against Caucasian women.

Documentary evidence (Daquing Yang): By outbreak of WW2, war was by no means an unregulated business. Japan did sign the 1929 Geneva Convention but not the treatment of POWs amendment. After the war, there was a serious problem with documentary evidence, as less than 0.1% materials survived the destruction. The only people interested in investigation of Japanese war crimes were former POWs and a few historians. Of 132.000 U.S. and British POWs held by the Japanese, 27% died, compared to 4% of those who died when in German or Italian hands. Most deadly places and incidents included the Bataan death march, Thai-Burma railway, biological and chemical warfare units, and transport ships. In 1948, the Allies convicted 23 Japanese doctors who worked at the Kyushu University of experiments on U.S. airmen. The charges were vivisection, wrongful removal of bodily parts, and cannibalism.

Recently declassified NARA records (James Lide): This chapter includes survey of 100.000 pages released under JIGDA, mainly with focus on biological and chemical warfare units, treatment of POWs, comfort women conscripted from occupied territories and forced to become prostitutes, and Allied policies regarding war crimes. Most valuable is overview of records from different agencies as they were received, and methodology used for review of samples: OSS documents on bacterial and chemical warfare and the Ramona project (Japanese atomic research and uranium mining in Manchuria); the State Department records relating to mistreatment of U.S. POWs and files relating to clemency for Japanese war criminals; Army Intelligence records, FBI files on assets / threats and their treason investigation files; NSA intercepts; and clemency proceedings from the 1950's.

Japanese war crimes records at NARA - Research starting points (NARA staff): precise location of records kept by NARA from all sources and description of its content. The author pays special attention to areas of interest, such as U.S. POWs at Mukden, and records on BW/CW warfare and impunity for Ishii Shiro in exchange for information on his experiments; and records which have been declassified for years but underexplored by researchers.

Wartime COMINT records in NARA about war crimes (Robert Hanyok): very interesting insight into technical challenges of interception and processing of coded messages in Japanese, which had to be transferred over huge landmass of Asia and the Pacific ocean. Only small percentage of these records was translated and disseminated.

The exploitation of captured and seized Japanese records (Greg Bradsher): In September 1945, Colonel Sidney Mashbir (U.S. Army, ATIS), confronted Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs with extensive evidence of war crimes against POWs and civilians. State Department was reluctant to present the evidence to the Japanese because of concerns over disclosure of sources and operational security. In 1942, the Washington Document Center established by the Navy sent a special unit to Japan which seized over 400.000 documents.

A constantly returning irritant: returning captured documents in 1946-61 (Greg Bradster): In 1948 and `49, CIA handed over large number of records to the Library of Congress and NARA, as the record no longer had operational but only historical value. Policy was discussed t the highest level, and a decision was finally made in January 1950. Some of the records were microfilmed before return to Japan.

The intelligence that wasn't (Michael Petersen): This is the most interesting part of the book as it deals with the issue of CIA assets from the ranks of Japanese war criminals. To their credit it has to be noted that many of them were later in the 1950's assessed as liability and dropped. Operation Takematsu (intelligence gathering on foreign targets and domestic communists) effectively allowed the Japanese to engage in criminal activities abroad. The most ill-famous examples described here are Arisue Seizo, Tsuji Masanobu, Sakata Sadamasa, and Kadama Yoshio.
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Tags: Introductory, Essays, Records, Crimes, Japanese
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