28 August 2006

Japanese atrocities against Pows

Lieutenant General Joshio Tachibana, Imperial Japanese Army, and 11 other Japanese military personnel were tried for the beheadings of two American airmen in August, 1944, on Chichi Jima in the Bonin Islands.[5] They were beheaded on Tachibana's orders. One of the executed airmen, a U. S. Navy radioman third class, was dissected and his "flesh and viscera" eaten by Japanese military personnel. The U. S. also tried Vice Admiral Mori and a Major Matoba for murder in the deaths of five U. S. airmen, in February, 1945. Major Matoba confessed to cannibalism. However, military and international law had no provisions for punishment for cannibalism per se. They were accused of murder and "prevention of honorable burial."

Other story:
Honcho had been placed in the cage after Nishikawa, a Formosan civilian investigating the disappearance of a pig from the sty, had discovered pieces of pork in the prisoner's cup and plate - evidence which had given Honcho no option but to admit he had killed the pig and distributed it among his fellow prisoners.
When Hiong went to the latrines at about 6.30am on the day after Honcho's arrest he saw the prisoner, smoking a cigarette, sitting on a chair outside the Japanese office, flanked by guards Hinata Genzo and Fukuda Nobtio, About 20 minutes later, as Hiong returned, he saw that Honcho, dressed only in a loin-cloth and very weak, was being helped along by the same two guards. Moritake, carrying a hammer, brought up the rear. Hiong watched as the small procession stopped at a large wooden cross, erected about 75 metres from the cookhouse and 30 metres from the office.
Hinata supported the prisoner firmly against the upright while Moritake mounted a small stool which Nishikawa had brought from the office. Then, while Hinata pressed his body against the victim to hold him still, Mortitake drove a long nail into the palm of the prisoner's outstretched right hand. He ordered Hinata to stuff a piece of rag into Honcho's mouth to stifle his screams. Moritake repeated the process with the left hand, then nailed both the prisoner's feet to a horizontal board on which he was standing. Finally Moritake drove a 20-centimetre-long nail through the centre of Honcho's forehead. He then took a butcher's knife and cut two pieces of flesh from the prisoner's abdomen, which he set aside on a wooden board brought especially for the purpose.
Donning a rubber glove, he slit the torso from neck to navel, removing the liver and the heart, which he cut in two. He had just finished slicing away more flesh from the thighs, arms and abdomen when, Hiong, hiding under the barracks, heard the Japanese cook calling him from the kitchen.
When Hiong emerged ten minutes later, on the pretext of wanting to urinate, he heard Moritake, still at the cross, shout for Nishikawa who then hurried off in the direction of the Number 2 Compound. He returned about 30 minutes later with two POWs who were ordered to pick up the board and its grisly exhibits.
The prisoners, escorted by Moritake and his three henchmen, were marched back across the road to the camp where the other prisoners had been lined up. The remains of the corpse were left hanging on the cross to decompose.
In the middle of July, Moritake piled wood faggots around the remains, saturated everything with kerosene and set it all alight, destroying all physical evidence of his appalling crime. The prisoners, of course, were of no consequence as Moritake had no intention of leaving any witnesses.

"Honcho" was later identified from the informants earlier description as Capt. J.
Mills of the British Army.

The Australians troops were horrified to find that the Japanese had been eating both the wounded and dead Australians who had been left behind on the previous day. Corporal Bill Hedges describes the ghastly scene:

"The Japanese had cannibalised our wounded and dead soldiers..We found them with meat stripped off their legs and half-cooked meat in the Japanese dishes (pots)".

One of Corporal Hedges closest comrades was among the butchered bodies. He said:

"I was heartily disgusted and disappointed to see my good friend lying there, with the flesh stripped off his arms and legs; his uniform torn off him."

Shortly afterwards, the Australian corporal was appalled to discover that the Japanese had not resorted to cannibalism because of starvation. He said:

"We found dumps with rice and a lot of tinned food. So they weren't starving and having to eat flesh because they were hungry."

The quotations by Corporal Hedges come from "Horror in the East" by Laurence Rees, a BBC publication (2001). This book is essential reading for anyone hoping to try to understand Japanese war atrocities.

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