This Day In History: Eight Japanese War Criminals Are Executed In Tokyo (1945)

On this day in history, eight Japanese war criminals are executed in Tokyo, Japan. The men had been found guilty by the Far Eastern War Crimes Tribunal and found guilty of crimes against humanity.  Hideki Tojo, was the most prominent Japanese to be executed for war crimes. The former Japanese premier was chief of the Kwantung Army and was deemed to be responsible for many of its atrocities. The Japanese army committed atrocities in every country they invaded. Tojo did not deny his role and accepted his fate, some believe that he did so to protect the Emperor. Tojo was executed along with six other top Japanese for crimes against humanity committed during World War II and also for their role in starting the war in the Pacific.  Some of the defendants were found guilty of the crime of genocide that is an attempt to exterminate a group or race. The tribunal found that the Japanese Army engaged in genocide in several countries that they occupied and especially in China.  The Tribunal sentenced the eight former Japanese leaders to death on November the 12th. Among those sentenced to die was Iwane Matsui who had commanded the Japanese army during the  Rape of Nanking (he is pictured on horseback above)This was a six-week orgy of violence and rape after the Japanese army had captured the Nationalist Chinese capital.  It is possible that 25,0,000 people died in Nanking and 20,000 women raped. Another war criminal who was executed on this date, had tortured, killed and starved Allied prisoners of war. At the same trial, sixteen other war criminals were sentenced to life imprisonment. Two were given lesser sentences.

Tojo
The executed Japanese premier Tojo (1943)

The war crimes trials in Japan were different to the Nuremberg trial of German war criminals. At Nuremberg, all of the leading allied countries were represented and each had their own prosecutors.   At the Tokyo war crimes trials, there was only one prosecutor, the American Joseph B. Keenan.   Other nations especially China, did participate in the trial and provided evidence. There were many more war crimes trials in Japan and in the countries’ that were occupied by the Japanese Imperial Army. In total almost 1000 Japanese former leaders and generals were executed for their role in the atrocities and war crimes. The Japanese had committed many atrocities against civilians and prisoners of war. There are many in Asia who believe that not enough Japanese were brought to justice over war crimes. The Chinese are still angered over, at what they believe is the Japanese lack of remorse for their crimes in the Sino-Japanese War.

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