November 12

This Day in History

General Interest

Nov 12, 1948:

Japanese war criminals sentenced

An international war crimes tribunal in Tokyo passes death sentences on seven Japanese military and government officials, including General Hideki Tojo, who served as premier of Japan from 1941 to 1944.

Eight days before, the trial ended after 30 months with all 25 Japanese defendants being found guilty of breaching the laws and customs of war. In addition to the death sentences imposed on Tojo and others principals, such as Iwane Matsui, who organized the Rape of Nanking, and Heitaro Kimura, who brutalized Allied prisoners of war, 16 others were sentenced to life imprisonment. The remaining two of the 25 defendants were sentenced to lesser terms in prison.

Unlike the Nuremberg trial of German war criminals, where there were four chief prosecutors representing Great Britain, France, the United States, and the USSR, the Tokyo trial featured only one chief prosecutor--American Joseph B. Keenan, a former assistant to the U.S. attorney general. However, other nations, especially China, contributed to the proceedings, and Australian judge William Flood Webb presided. In addition to the central Tokyo trial, various tribunals sitting outside Japan judged some 5,000 Japanese guilty of war crimes, of whom more than 900 were executed.

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