Skip to content | Skip to document navigation

Research Guides

Japanese War Crimes in the Pacific: Australia's investigations and prosecutions

Appendix A

Instrument of Appointment of the Board of Inquiry – list of war crimes

This list of war crimes was contained in the Board of Inquiry's Instrument of Appointment, September 1945. It is based on the list drawn up by the   post–World War I Allied Commission on Responsibility of the Authors of the War and on Enforcement of Penalties (usually known as the Paris Peace Commission) of 1919.1 The Australian additions and amendments to the list are indicated in italics below. Item i. is Crimes against Peace as it appears in the Charter of the International Military Tribunal (for Nuremberg).2

War crimes to include

  1. Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances, or participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the foregoing.
  2. Murder and massacre, systematic terrorism.
  3. Putting hostages to death.
  4. Torture of civilians.
  5. Deliberate starvation of civilians.
  6. Rape.
  7. Abduction of girls and women for the purpose of enforced prostitution.
  8. Deportation of civilians.
  9. Internment of civilians in inhuman conditions.
  10. Forced labour of civilians in connection with the military operations of the enemy.
  11. Usurpation of sovereignty during military occupation.
  12. Compulsory enlistment of soldiers among the inhabitants of occupied territory.
  13. Attempts to denationalise the inhabitants of occupied territories.
  14. Pillage and wholesale looting.
  15. Confiscation of property.
  16. Exaction of illegitimate or of exorbitant contributions and requisitions.
  17. Debasement of the currency and issue of spurious currency.
  18. Imposition of collective penalties.
  19. Wanton devastation and destruction of property.
  20. Deliberate bombardment of undefended places.
  21. Wanton destruction of religious, charitable, educational and historical buildings and monuments.
  22. Destruction of merchant ships and passenger vessels without warning and without provision for the safety of passengers and crew.
  23. Destruction of fishing boats and of relief ships.
  24. Deliberate bombardment of hospitals.
  25. Attack on and destruction of hospital ships.
  26. Breach of other rules relating to the Red Cross.
  27. Use of deleterious and asphyxiating gases
  28. Use of explosives or expanding bullets, and other inhumane appliances.
  29. Directions to give no quarter.
  30. Ill-treatment of wounded and prisoners of war including,
    1. transportation of prisoners of war under improper conditions
    2. public exhibition or ridicule of prisoners of war and
    3. failure to provide prisoners of war or internees with proper medical care, food or quarters.
  31. Employment of prisoners of war on unauthorised work.
  32. Misuse of flags of truce.
  33. Poisoning of wells.
  34. Cannibalism.
  35. Mutilation of the dead.


1 Commission on Responsibility of the Authors of the War and on Enforcement of Penalties, 'Report Presented to the Preliminary Peace Conference 29 March 1919', American Journal of International Law, 1920, p. 114.

2 Crimes Against Peace as it appears in the Charter of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East is worded differently.