British Military & Criminal History:

1900 to 1999.



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The following article is taken from the book "Knights of Bushido" and explains the U.K's war crimes trials in the Far East.

Organisation of UK Jap War Crimes Trials

The investigation and trial of those who had committed war crimes against British nationals became the responsibility of General Headquarters, Allied Land Forces, south-east Asia, which had to operate over a very large area: Singapore, Malaya, Siam, French Indo-China, Burma, Hong Kong, Tientsin, Shanghai, British North Borneo, the Netherlands East Indies, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

A War Crimes Group was formed comprising a number of investigation teams, a registry section, coordinating section and a legal section. The entire organisation was eventually brought under the control of the Judge Advocate General’s Branch directly responsible to the Military Deputy of the Judge Advocate General in London.

The way in which these organisations functioned is described in the History of the United Nations War Crimes Commission.

When Japan surrendered, the Japanese forces in south-east Asia passed into the hands of the Allies, and with them the staff of prisoner of war camps, whose brutality was notorious. Photographs were taken of all these men, and the prints were circulated, particularly to Allied ex-prisoners of war at home, who then made affidavits concerning the treatment they had received. The person making the affidavit would be shown about six prints, one of which was of the person concerned in the charge, and from this photographic identification parade the individual photographs were identified. More than ten thousand of such photographs were taken and, when identified, were sent with the affidavits to the Registry at Singapore from where they were sent out to the investigation teams.

These teams operated throughout the whole area, sometimes in areas of comparative civilisation, and sometimes deep in the jungle. With the help of photographs, affidavits, local evidence and sometimes of voluntary statements made by the accused, they were able to build up cases which were sent to the Legal Section of the War Crimes Group.

When a prima facie case was proved to exist the Legal Section brought the accused to trial. Ex-prisoners from England attended the trial as witnesses but where their presence was not practicable, the affidavits made at home were used in evidence. All cases were not so simple and many suspects remained untraced owing to their having been transferred to another theatre prior to the capitulation, but efforts to trace them proceeded successfully.

By February 1948, nine hundred and thirty-one Japanese war criminals had been tried by British Courts.

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