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

7 The Australian military courts war crimes trials, 1945-51

In the period 1945–51 Australian Military Courts convened in Morotai, Wewak, Labuan, Rabaul, Darwin, Singapore, Hong Kong and Manus Island heard 300 war crimes trials. By the end, 812 principally Japanese but also including Korean or Formosan (Taiwanese) alleged war criminals had been tried, some more than once, for a variety of war crimes committed against Allied civilians or military personnel, including ill-treatment, murder and massacre, cannibalism and other violations of the laws and usages of war.274

While the War Crimes Act 1945 provided for the prosecution of those involved in planning, preparing, initiating or waging aggressive war, in practice only conventional war crimes, such as those mentioned, were prosecuted in the Australian trials. Moreover, while the Australian trials are generally described, along with the other national Allied war crimes trials, as BC class trials275 – most of the convicted war criminals actually fell into class B for having committed conventional war crimes.

Table 3: Location and details of war crimes trials


Number of trials

Number of Accused Tried

Number of charges laid

Convictions on charges

Acquittals on charges

No finding made











































Hong Kong







Manus Island














Trial personnel

The trials were organised and run by the Australian Army, through the Directorate of Prisoners of War and Internees (DPW&I) based in Melbourne and the directorate's various War Crimes Sections located overseas.278  Hence, most Australian trial personnel – including the President and members of the various military courts, judges-advocate, prosecuting officers, defending officers and interpreters, were drawn from the Australian Army,279 and particularly from the Australian Army Legal Corps (AALC). Several Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) officers served as court members when members of the RAAF were amongst the victims. British, Chinese and other Allied military officers occasionally served as court members, when their nationals were amongst the victims.

Only a handful of civilian personnel took part, as Australian civilian prosecutors at Rabaul and Manus Island, or as interpreters in languages other than Japanese, such as Mandarin, Cantonese or pidgin (Tok Pisin). For instance, Ma Na Fai, a resident of Hong Kong who had been working on Nauru when the Japanese occupied the island, was brought to Rabaul to give evidence and to work as a Mandarin and Cantonese interpreter. He later requested extra reimbursement for his expenses and financial losses suffered by the length of time he was forced to stay in Rabaul before he could be repatriated to Hong Kong.280

Japanese Army or Navy defending officers and civilian defence counsel were also part of some, not all, trials, although they were always allocated an Australian or British officer to advise and support them. Most Japanese counsel sincerely tried their hardest for the accused on trial, including in the uncongenial situation of 'almost starving whilst carrying out their duties',281 but some were clearly out of their depth.282

An interesting and detailed account of participating in the largest ever Australian war crimes trial – that of 91 accused Japanese at Ambon/Morotai in early 1946 – was subsequently published in Japan by defence counsel Dr Sōmiya Shinji.283 A number of Japanese interpreters, usually civilian interpreters who had been attached to the Japanese Army, also took part in the trials. Nishimura Jiro and Hattori Shoji, for instance, both worked as interpreters in a number of trials at Rabaul.

Preparing for trial and trial procedures

There is some documentation of the pressing decisions about how the trials were to operate made in the period before trials commenced, which is discussed in Chapter 6. The general administrative procedures for preparing cases, for 'applying' for trial and the trial procedure, at least in relation to how they worked at 1 Australian War Crimes Section (1AWCS) in Singapore, is also extant.284

Legally, the trials were governed by the War Crimes Act 1945 and its subsidiary Regulations for the Trial of War Criminals 1945, although the Army Act and the Rules of Procedure, as contained in the Australian edition of the Manual of Military Law 1941, as amended, were applied. Although the general administrative and legal procedure is known, there is relatively little documentation regarding the day-to-day preparation for (the 'getting up') and operation of individual trials. One notable exception is the set of five trials at Rabaul collectively known as the senior officers' or command responsibility trials, namely:

  • Rabaul R172 trial of Maj Gen Hirota Akira
  • Rabaul R173 trial of Lt Gen Adachi Hatazō
  • Rabaul R174 trial of Lt Gen Katō Rinpei
  • Rabaul R175 trial of Gen Imamura Hitoshi
  • Rabaul R176 trial of Lt Gen Baba Masao.

As the Directorate of Prisoners of War and Internees in Melbourne subjected these trials to considerably more guidance and coordination, there is more extant documentation of them. Another exception is the extensive documentation surrounding the Manus Island trials in 1950–51, which reached the level of discussion and decision-making in Cabinet.

Generally, the working notes and papers of those preparing for or participating in the trials – including the prosecuting and defending officers – are not to be found in the national collection, unless they were subsequently donated. For example, the papers of Athol Moffitt, who served as a prosecuting officer at the Labuan trials, are held in the Australian War Memorial (AWM). His papers include not only prosecution materials but his detailed private diary as the trials proceeded, which contains revelations about his prosecutorial decision-making and personal views of the accused.285 Moffitt also later published Project Kingfisher, a book on the massacres of prisoners of war in Borneo which were a focus of the Labuan trials.286

Similarly, the papers of John Myles Williams, who served as a war crimes investigating officer on Ambon and as a prosecuting officer at the Morotai trials, are held in the Mitchell Library at the State Library of New South Wales.287 Williams later wrote a minor thesis on the trials at the University of Sydney.288 One of Williams' counterparts, Douglas Malcolm Campbell, reminisces about serving as a defending officer at Morotai in his unpublished memoirs held at the library of the Supreme Court of Queensland, where he later became a judge.289

Image 22: Royal Netherlands Legation advice in 1948 that a war crimes investigation into beheadings at Koepang had closed due to a lack of suspects and evidence.

Image 22: Royal Netherlands Legation advice in 1948 that a war crimes investigation into beheadings at Koepang had closed due to a lack of suspects and evidence.
NAA: A1838, 1550/9 PART 1
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Selection of cases for trial and continuation of war crimes investigations and trials

Trials proceeded at a somewhat irregular pace from the first trial at Morotai, which commenced on 29 November 1945, through trial series at Morotai, Wewak, Labuan, Darwin, Rabaul, Singapore and Hong Kong until late 1948.  It is difficult, today, to ascertain exactly why some cases proceeded to trial and others did not. In the early years, if a case was ready for trial – if there was sufficient evidence of a prima facie case of a war crime having been committed by an identifiable suspect, who had also been located and was held in custody – then a trial generally proceeded in due course.

Sometimes Australian trials did not proceed because of policy decisions that other Allied nations would prosecute certain trials involving Australian victims. For example, cases concerning Australian prisoners of war held in Japan were entirely prosecuted by the United States' military commission trials at Yokohama from December 1945.290 In relation to some cases, reports and correspondence from war crimes investigators, or advice from other Allied powers, explain why they were closed, such as if there was insufficient evidence or where the perpetrator of a war crime was unable to be identified, or had been identified but was now deceased or had been identified but could not be located.

The Far Eastern Commission (FEC), which is discussed in Chapter 9, debated at length a recommendation in 1948 that all investigations and trials of Japanese war criminals should be completed by a specified date. However, the commission's jurisdiction over national military courts outside Japan was doubtful and the most it could do in respect of the Australian Military Courts was to make recommendations. In due course, however, the commission recommended that war crimes investigations should be completed before 30 June 1949 and all trials be concluded, if possible, before 30 September 1949.291

After the final Hong Kong trial in December 1948, an interim of a year and a half passed with no Australian Military Court trials, more or less for want of a trial location, but also because the question of whether war crimes investigations and prosecutions should, in fact, continue was becoming a contested subject in Australia. While war crimes investigators diligently continued their work, efforts to have an Australian court established in Japan – perhaps in the British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF) area – repeatedly failed to secure the approval of General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander for Allied Powers (SCAP). Finally in September 1949, General MacArthur threatened to release the 87 Japanese prisoners detained for Australia in Sugamo Prison in Japan unless Australia moved to prosecute or release them.292 As SCAP's Legal Section pointed out:

More than four years after the termination of hostilities and from one to two years after the original apprehension of the majority of the suspects, their continued incarceration without specific charges and without even a certain prospect of eventual trial can scarcely be reconciled with fundamental concepts of justice.293

A number of trial locations were considered for a final series of trials, including Darwin, Singapore, Port Moresby, Dreger and Manus Island. Manus Island, already home to the Australian War Criminals Compound, was eventually selected as the location for the final series of Australian trials, as a mainland Australian location could not be 'recommended'294 and the other three locations were 'found to be undesirable'.295

Unlike trials in the earlier locations, where the only criterion was readiness for trial, Cabinet debated the specific criteria for cases to proceed to trial at Manus Island. The criteria was eventually fixed at cases where the victim or victims were preferably Australian and service personnel, not civilians; where there was a high probability of conviction and, if convicted, a death sentence 'might appropriately' be awarded. For some, however, the result of applying these criteria was a controversially 'short' list of cases to be prosecuted, leaving cases languishing that were ready for trial but that did not fit the criteria.

Flt Lt Lionel C Conduit of the RAAF, who had been a diligent investigator of cases involving murdered airmen, was extremely angry that none of the cases he had worked at for several years had made the trial list. He regarded this as, amongst other things, a 'sickening' betrayal of the public's trust, as the government was allowing Japanese war criminals to escape justice.296 Conduit won the support of the Minister for Air and others, who also took up the call to expand the trial list. However, the Army suspected Conduit of having released 'confidential information' to 'unauthorised' persons in his attempt to gain traction for his cause to have the airmen cases tried at Manus Island.297 In a nice military euphemism, the Adjutant-General suggested that the Department of Air consequently might have to 'take such action in the matter as may be considered appropriate' against Conduit.298

In October 1950, after the trials were well underway at Manus Island, the Minister for Air tried to persuade the Cabinet to add further trials to the list – including the airmen cases – but was unsuccessful.299 The final Australian war crimes trials took place at Manus Island in April 1951 and no further Australian trials of Japanese were ever held.

Image 23: Typed copy of joint petition by suspected war criminals detained in Sugamo Prison pleading not to be transferred to Manus Island for trial.

Image 23: Typed copy of joint petition by suspected war criminals detained in Sugamo Prison pleading not to be transferred to Manus Island for trial.
NAA: A1838, 3103/10/13/2 PART 1
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Post-trial procedure

As each trial concluded, the Directorate of Prisoners of War and Internees allocated each convicted war criminal a sequential 'serial' number according to rough date of sentence (not trial). For example, Lieutenant Tazaki Takahiko, the first accused tried at Wewak on 30 November 1945, received serial number 1, as his sentence was handed down that same day.300 By contrast, Captain Iwasa Tokio, who was in fact the very first accused to face trial, at Morotai on 29 November 1945, received serial number 41, as he was not sentenced until 13 December 1945. The practice of issuing sequential numbers meant that if an accused was tried and convicted more than once, they received unique serial numbers for each sentence. It was, therefore, often this serial number – not the Australian War Criminal (AWC) number (which remained the same for the person) – that is used to help clearly identify convicted war criminals and their sentence(s) in correspondence after the trials.

The conviction rate at the Australia trials was not particularly high, standing at about 68.16 per cent.301 About one third of all those charged were thus acquitted. Although there was no formal appellate process, the convicted were entitled to submit a written petition against the finding(s) and/or sentence within a set statutory period, and most did so.302 Petitions by family members, friends and other supporters were also common. For example, 1778 persons signed a petition organised by Mrs Yasuda Konoe, the mother of Captain Yasuda Tadashi, who had been convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment in the Manus Island LN18 trial in November 1950.303 While most petitions are held with the trial proceedings, many others are not. The Australian authorities largely disregarded the set period in which to petition and accepted for consideration repeated petitions from the convicted or their supporters over time. These later petitions are often held in the Army's trial-linked correspondence files or files relating to the War Criminals Compounds.

Image 24: Promulgation of sentence after confirmation of finding and sentence read to Lt Gen Adachi Hatazō by Maj FJ Duval in the Rabaul War Criminals Compound.

Image 24: Promulgation of sentence after confirmation of finding and sentence read to Lt Gen Adachi Hatazō by Maj FJ Duval in the Rabaul War Criminals Compound.
NAA: MP375/14, WC1
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After the trial, a legal officer reviewed the trial proceedings before the file went to the Army's Judge Advocate General for legal review. The Judge Advocate General reviewed the trial proceedings and any petitions received and made recommendations about the findings and sentences to the confirming authority, although the latter was not bound to accept those recommendations. As a matter of practice, Lieutenant General Vernon AH Sturdee, Acting Commander-in-Chief (December 1945–February 1946) and then Chief of General Staff (March 1946–April 1950) confirmed the vast majority of all findings and sentences during his period in those offices.304 Regrettably, there is little insight possible into Sturdee's decision-making, as he did not record reasons on the trial proceedings. If he recorded his thoughts on the trials elsewhere, then these were probably destroyed when he burned his private papers in 1951, allegedly commenting 'I have done the job. It is over'.305

Of the 812 individual accused Japanese at the Australian trials, 137306 were eventually executed by hanging or shooting.307 Many more war criminals were sentenced to terms of imprisonment, which were served in the Australian War Criminals Compound on Rabaul, then on Manus Island and, finally, in Sugamo Prison in Japan.308 Generally speaking, terms of imprisonment were reckoned to commence on the day on which the sentence was handed down and the trial proceedings signed by the President of the Court. This is because the duration of time already spent in custody up to and during trial was usually considered as a factor in the sentencing process. If a war criminal received multiple sentences in different trials, the sentences ran concurrently, with the longer of the sentences forming the war criminal's actual period of imprisonment, subject to later suspension or remission, which systems are discussed in chapters 8 and 10. Only in a few instances – where war criminals had received multiple sentences from Australian trials (the earliest of which was later not confirmed) or had received multiple sentences from different Allied powers (which had different trial and sentencing practices) – was it more complicated to establish the date from which imprisonment ran. Being able to ascertain the precise date of imprisonment was important, as it affected the dates of eligibility for sentence remission, for parole and for the release of each war criminal.

Trial publicity

The trials commenced in late 1945 in a blaze of publicity, which reached a height in early 1946, when apparently 'light' sentences were handed down in the Darwin trials.309 Thereafter, the attention of the press waxed and waned. Even the reporting on the last series of trials at Manus Island, which also included prominent senior Japanese officers, never quite reached the heights of the early years, undoubtedly aided by the fact that the trials were taking place on a far-flung secured military base to which the press had to apply for admittance. Nevertheless, government departments and the Army not surprisingly took a fairly careful note of reporting on the trials over time, as demonstrated by the various 'Press' files of newspaper clippings.310 Official attention to the press was particularly marked when the manner of reporting itself was the subject of forceful complaints by the public, including directly to the Prime Minister and the Minister for the Army. A recurrent theme of complaints was that the press freely reported horrific details of atrocities together with the names or pictures of Australian victims, sometimes when the victims' families had not yet been told of their fate or had simply been told that they had died while a prisoner of war. In the postwar period, however, the government could no longer impose censorship on the press to control publication of atrocity stories, as it had done during the war.311 The government had to rely on the 'co-operation of newspapers not to cause undue distress to soldiers' relatives'.312

Access to the trial proceedings

Aptly demonstrating how little was known publicly of the Australian trials even immediately after the trials concluded, Massey Stanley – who had been commissioned by publishers Angus and Robertson to write an entry on the trials for the forthcoming Australian Encyclopaedia – thought in 1951 that the 'Australian trials mainly took place at Yokohama and at Manus Island'!313 Public knowledge of the details rapidly waned in the postwar years, as the trial proceedings were inaccessible and the war criminals themselves were largely out of public sight in their compound on Manus Island. Repeated requests by the Japanese Government for access to, or copies of, the trial proceedings were refused. It was not until 1975 that the trial proceedings were opened to the public, although permission was granted in the late 1960s for partial copies to be made available to Japan and to 'bona fide Australian scholars'. In announcing his decision to lift the access restrictions to the trials, the Attorney-General, Mr Keppel Enderby QC, remarked:

For too long Australian scholars have been hampered in their attempts to interpret Australia's history. Restrictions like this one [on access to the trial proceedings] no longer serve a useful purpose …The past should be everyone's property.314

The trials have not yet been reported in a law reports series, although one is forthcoming.

Overview of the records


The trial proceedings have been retained virtually intact in Attorney-General's Department series A471 (Canberra) and each is now digitised and available online.315 Only the proceedings from one trial in Singapore have disappeared, although some copies of the documents and the original exhibits have been located in other files.316 Of the other trials, only a handful of individual documents – usually exhibits – have gone astray over time, probably as they were borrowed for the purpose of other related trials and never returned to the original proceedings in which they were tendered.

When each trial proceeding reached the Army's Directorate of Prisoners of War and Internees in Melbourne, it was assigned an alphanumeric reference code according to the location of trial. The alphabetical codes are:

M – Morotai

MW – Wewak

ML – Labuan

D – Darwin

R – Rabaul

S – Singapore

HK – Hong Kong

LN – Manus Island (for Los Negros Island).

The numbers that were then assigned to the location codes were often arbitrary: the numbering has no correlation with the dates of or sequence of the trials. For example, while the Morotai M9 trial was the first trial convened in November 1945, there are also M6, M7 and M8 trials, all of which were convened after M9. The numbers that were assigned to the trials of each location are perfectly sequential in some cases, such as at Rabaul, where the trials run from R1 to R188, with no gaps. In other cases, the numbering is not sequential:

  • For some locations, there are simply gaps in the numbering. For example, there were no Australian Singapore S1, S13, S15, S19 and S25 trials.
  • For the trials from Wewak, Morotai and Labuan, while they received different location references, they were numbered together, hence Wewak MW 1 trial, Labuan ML2–ML4 trial; Wewak MW5 and then Morotai M6–M10, with Labuan and Morotai trial numbers mingled thereafter until M45, the final trial at Morotai.

Finally, several trials at Rabaul and Singapore were never formally numbered, as they were dissolved before findings were made. These are often referred to as RNN or SNN trials.317 The proceedings for the dissolved trials are usually held with the proceedings from when the trial was convened for the second time, including at a different trial location. For example, one of the RNN trials is held with the HK12 trial proceedings. It is these dissolved trials that usually account for the minute variance in the total number of trials – 296 instead of 300 – which is recorded in some secondary sources on the Australian war crimes trials.

The organisation of each trial proceedings in series A471 is fairly standard, generally comprising:

  • the Record of Military Court (a summary of the proceedings)318
  • the legal reviews by the reviewing legal officer and the Judge Advocate General
  • petition(s), if any319
  • the Form for Assembly and Proceedings of a Military Court320
  • warrant(s) of execution, if any
  • trial transcript in date order321
  • documentary exhibits marked with exhibit number
  • other documents, such as the prosecuting and defending officers' opening and closing addresses, which were sometimes submitted in writing.
Image 25: Record of Military Court for the first trial convened, known as the Morotai M9 trial

Image 25: Record of Military Court for the first trial convened, known as the Morotai M9 trial
NAA: A471, 80718
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An index of each accused by surname can be found in Appendix B to this guide. An index to finding the item control symbol for each trial in series A471 can be found in Appendix C to guide. A brief page index to key documents within each trial proceeding can be found in Appendix D to this guide.

Many trials of size have their proceedings in series A471 broken into separate items, designated either numerically (for example PART 1) or alphabetically (for example PART A). However, researchers are cautioned that the designations are not always logically assigned: the Record of Military Court and the first part of the trial proceedings are not always in PART 1 or A. Similarly, exhibits are not always in the order which they were tendered and, if the run of exhibits has been broken into separate items, they are not always in order in successive parts.

The Directorate of Prisoners of War and Internees maintained a related correspondence file for each trial, which are now held in series MP742/1, 336/1/* (Melbourne). The files are indexed in MP742/1, 336/1/2125. The run of correspondence files has unfortunately been culled, with some files (principally relating to the trials at Rabaul) having been destroyed, with no discernible pattern as to retention or destruction. The surviving correspondence files provide a brief insight into the post-trial process, as they often contain standard, although occasionally unusual, correspondence between senior Army officers (including the Director of Legal Services and senior officers in the directorate) and with the Judge Advocate General, as well any additional petitions submitted after the trial proceedings had been dispatched from the trial location. On occasion, if trials or findings or sentences were controversial, these correspondence files can be substantial and hence very informative in their own right, such as in the case of the Morotai M43 trial of Lt Katayama Hideo or the Manus Island LN2 trial of Lt Gen Nishimura Takuma.322  

Films, sound recordings and photographs

Unfortunately, very little film and sound record exists of the trials, probably due to the technology of the period and the challenging conditions and poor climate at many of the trial locations. The known films, held at the Australian War Memorial, are:

  • 1 minute 29 seconds of silent black-and-white film footage of the Wewak MW1 trial held on 30 November and 1 December 1945. Although brief, the film shows the accused coming into the court, the president and members of the bench and the accused giving evidence, among other parts of the trial.323
  • 58 seconds of silent black-and-white footage of the Labuan ML2 trial held on
    4 December 1945. Although even briefer, the film shows the accused being marched towards the court and the court members taking their place behind a flag-draped desk.324

In addition, the National Film and Sound Archive holds:

  • a short newsreel entitled No Reprieve for Jap War Criminals: Rabaul from February 1946325
  • a short newsreel entitled Jap Criminals Face Australian Court Martial: Rabaul from February 1946326
  • a newsreel entitled News of the Week: Jap War Criminals from November 1946.327

The only known extant sound recording of the trials is held in Sydney and was taken by Australian Broadcasting Commission correspondent Talbot Duckmanton of the opening of the first ever trial, the Morotai M9 trial in November 1945.328

A broader and more diverse photographic collection of the trials exists, much of which is in the collection of the Australian War Memorial. A significant majority of the photographs are of the three trials in Darwin in early 1946, due to the ease of attendance by press photographers and the attendance of Keith Davis, an official photographer from the Army's Military History Section.

Some photographs of the Darwin trials were therefore published, such as the photograph of the members of the Court which appeared in the Argus (Melbourne) on 5 March 1946.329 There are also limited photographic records of trials held at some of the other locations, including Morotai, Labuan and Hong Kong. Some of these were taken by trial personnel for their own collections and later donated to public collections. However, while press correspondents attended the final series of trials at Manus Island in 1950–51, there are no known photographs in the national collection of the trials, as there appears to have been an Army order prohibiting such photography.330 Copies of photographs used as evidence at the trials at Morotai are held in a collection at the State Library of New South Wales.331

This chapter sorts records into several sections:

  • proceedings of the war crimes trials
  • index materials to the trials
  • the Army's trial-related correspondence files
  • the Army's war crimes trials policies and correspondence
  • other services' and departments' war crimes trials policies and correspondence
  • use of the trials for casualty information
  • trial information provided to other departments
  • publicity about the trials
  • release of trial records.

Records held at the Australian War Memorial are listed separately at the end.


274 While the Australian war crimes trials are usually described, along with the other Allied national-level war crimes trials series, as B and C class war crimes trials, in fact, only B class war crimes or conventional war crimes were the subject of the Australian trials. There were no trials for crimes against peace, even though this crime was provided for in the definition of war crimes in section 3 of the War Crimes Act 1945.

275 This uses the classification system: Class A – crimes against peace; Class B – conventional war crimes; Class C – crimes against humanity. The International Military Tribunal for the Far East is often described as a Class A war crimes trial, although it encompassed far more than crimes against peace in its charges.

276 This figure of 300 trials includes several trials which were convened but then dissolved before a finding was made. There was no deliberate plan for the total number of trials to reach the round number of 300. In fact, the Australian Army's own statistics at that time did not include convened but dissolved trials, hence the figure for the number of trials was usually given as 296 trials. See, for example, the chart 'Statistics of Australian War Crimes Trials', compiled in February 1953 in NAA: A1838, 3103/10/13/2 PART 6.

277 This figure is the number of separate individuals who were charged, not the number of persons accused (including duplicates), which was 952.

278 The DPW&I is discussed in Chapter 4.

279 See the call for officers to volunteer for 'special duty' to prepare cases and appear at the Rabaul trials dated 2 November 1946, NAA: SP459/1, 407/16/232.

280 Australian War Memorial (AWM): AWM54, 427/4/2.

281 Newspaper headlines in January 1948 reported on the 'scandal' at the Australian trials at Hong Kong, when the Japanese team asked for the Australian Military Court's help, as they had been selling and pawning their belongings to buy food. An allowance which had been made to them by the British had ceased when Australian took over responsibility for them. See 'Jap Court Officers Say Australians Starving Them', Sun, 22 January 1948; and 'Scandal at Kowloon War Crimes Trial', Mail, 23 January 1948, clippings in NAA: MP742/1, 336/1/1438.

282 For example, Lt Col NF Quinton, President of the Australian Military Court at Hong Kong, characterised Japanese defence counsel Mr Sugano Kyuzo as 'very incompetent', which was adversely affecting the Japanese accused for whom he appeared, and, also, 'extremely slow' in court, which caused loss of court time: letter from Lt Col Quinton to OC, 1AWCS, 13 December 1948, NAA: MP729/8, 19/431/62.

283 Munemiya Shinji, Anbonto senpan saihanki, Tokyo: Hōritsu shimposha, 1946. Sōmiya was also known as Munemiya Shinji. Sōmiya's account was translated into English by Kazuo Yoshioka as 'The Account of Legal Proceedings of Court for War Crimes Suspects', which is held in the AWM book collection; in the Papers of William Hector Sticpewich, folder 7, AWM: PR00637; and in several manuscript collections of the State Library of New South Wales: MLMSS 2207, 3944 and 5426 Box 3.

284 See 1 Aust War Crimes Sect (SEAC), Orders for Preparation and Trial of Cases, issued by Lt Col RC Smith, OC, 1AWCS, 3 July 1946, NAA: MP742/1, 274/2/107.

285 Papers of Athol Randolph Moffitt, CMG, QC (Captain, 1914–2007), AWM: PR01378.

286 Athol Moffitt, Project Kingfisher, North Ryde, NSW: Angus & Robertson, 1989 and Sydney: ABC Books, 1995.

287 Papers of John Myles Williams, 1927–89, State Library of New South Wales, MLMSS 5426.

288 A copy of the thesis is available in ibid, Folder 7.

289 See 'Campbell Biography', Supreme Court of Queensland Library.

290 For geographical convenience, files relating to the US trials in Yokohama are listed in Chapter 9.

291 See Note by the Secretary General, 'Trial of Japanese War Criminals' and attached enclosure FEC-314/8, 25 February 1949, NAA: MP729/8, 66/431/14.

292 Cablegram from Australian Mission, Tokyo, to the Department of External Affairs, 20 September 1949,
NAA: A816, 19/304/447.

293 Cable from Australian Mission, Tokyo, quoting full text of correspondence from the Diplomatic Section of GHQ Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, to the Department of External Affairs, 22 October 1949, NAA: A816, 19/304/447.

294 Memorandum from Maj Gen WM Anderson, Adjutant-General to the Secretary, Department of the Army, 14 April 1949, NAA: MP742/1, 336/1/1203.

295 Cabinet Agendum 2A, 'Continuance of War Crimes Investigations and Trial of Japanese Suspect Minor War Criminals', January 1950, p. 1, NAA: A4639, 2A. For a fuller report on Singapore, Port Moresby and Dreger as options, see appendix C of that agendum.

296 Flt Lt LC Conduit, Extract from Weekly Investigation Report, week ending 27 January 1950; and Report by
Flt Lt LC Conduit, 9 February 1950, both in NAA: A705, 166/1/400.

297 Memoranda from Maj Gen WM Anderson for the Secretary, Department of the Army, 4 April 1950, p. 1 and 18 May 1950, p. 2, both in NAA: MP742/1, 336/1/2076.

298 ibid 18 May 1950, p. 2.

299 See Cabinet Agendum no. 2B, 'Continuance of War Crimes Investigations and Trial of Japanese Suspect Minor War Criminals', October 1950, NAA: A4639, 2B.

300 For a complete list of war criminals by serial number, see NAA: A1838, 3103/10/13/2 ANNEX. Researchers are cautioned that the chart entitled 'Statistics Australian War Crimes Trials' in this item is incorrect.

301 When calculated as a percentage of the number of convictions compared to charges laid.

302 One of the few convicted not to petition was Sgt Yaki Yoshio, who was tried for rape and torture in the Rabaul R1 trial. Historian and interpreter at Rabaul, David Sissons, reported that according to one of the Japanese defending officers, Yaki's commander-in-chief, General Imamura Hitoshi, 'regarded rape by a military policeman as such a heinous crime that he forbade the condemned man to appeal': David Sissons, ‘The Australian War Crimes Trials and Investigations (1942–1951)’, n.d., Papers of DCS Sissons, MS 3092, Series 10, National Library of Australia.

303 See the original petition and signatures in the trial proceedings in NAA: A471, 81959. Only the petition itself was translated into English, not the signatures.

304 Hence, Sturdee was not the confirming authority for the Manus Island trials in 1950–51.

305 Reported in James Wood, 'Sturdee, Sir Vernon Ashton Hobart (1890–1966)' Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,

306 This the number of actual persons executed, as a number of persons received more than one death sentence. Two war criminals who were sentenced to death but died before executions could be carried out are not included in this figure.

307 On the death sentences, see Georgina Fitzpatrick, 'Death Sentences, Japanese War Criminals and the Australian Military', in Georgina Fitzpatrick, Timothy McCormack and Narrelle Morris (eds), Australia's War Crimes Trials 1945–51, Leiden: Brill Nijhoff, 2016, 326–70.

308 For the War Criminals Compounds, see Chapter 8 of this guide.

309 One sub-branch of the Australian Legion of Ex-Servicemen & Women described the sentences as 'ridiculous and outrageously light' and viewed them as an 'insult to the memory of thousands of our comrades who were starved and beaten to death whilst in Japanese hands'. See this and other letters of protest and various official responses in NAA: MP742/1, 336/1/981.

310 See, for example, a number of files held in series NAA: A5954.

311 See, for example, letter from the Secretary, Prime Minister's Department to the General Secretary, R.S.S. & A.I.L.A., 23 August 1946, NAA: MP742/1, 336/1/981.

312 ibid.

313 Letter from Mr Massey Stanley to Mr Josiah Francis, Minister for the Army, 24 October 1951, NAA: MP742/1, 336/1/2185. There were, of course, no Australian trials in Japan at all. The reference to Yokohama probably arose due to the fact that United States' trials – which involved Australian victims and in which Australians participated – were held at Yokohama from December 1945, as discussed in Chapter 9.

314 Attorney-General's Department, 'Access to Historical Records', press release, 2 June 1975, NAA: A1838, 3103/10/13/12 Part 16A. CHECK FILE – requested 3103/10/13/2 Part 16A on 19 June. On access to the trial proceedings, see Narrelle Morris, 'Accessing the Archives of Australian War Crimes Trials in the Post-World War II Period', in Kim Rubenstein, Ann Genovese and Trish Luker (eds), The Court as Archive: Rethinking the Institutional Role of Federal Superior Courts of Record, Canberra: ANU E Press, pp. 145–64.

315 The only exceptions are a few large maps, which were tendered as exhibits, which have proven difficult to digitise.

316 Copies of various documents from the Singapore S2 trial, including the Record of Military Court, the legal reviews and correspondence related to the trial, are held in NAA: MP742/1, 336/1/2094 and B5569 HAYASHI/EISHUN.As this case was re-tried at Singapore, the original exhibits are held with the Singapore S27 trial.

317 The author assumes that the NN stands for 'no number'.

318 The Records of Military Court, while providing an excellent overview of the trial, should be referred to with caution, as they were always drafted after the trial and do contain the occasional error.

319 Interestingly, many of these petitions include both the English translation, to which the reviewing officer/JAG and confirming authority would have referred, as well as the Japanese language original. No comparative study of these has yet been made.

320 This form was the trial convening order, which also recorded the rank, name and unit of the President and the Court members; name(s) and unit(s) of the accused; the charge(s); the accused's plea(s) to the charge(s); finding(s) and sentence(s); and confirmations. In addition to being signed by the convening officer, the form was signed by the President and judge-advocate certifying the correctness of the proceedings and finally by the confirming officer.

321 The transcript usually included at the start the names of the prosecuting and defending officers, interpreters and shorthand writers.

322 For Katayama's trial correspondence file see NAA: MP742/1, 336/1/1737 and, for Nishimura's trial correspondence file, see NAA: MP742/1, 336/1/2137.

323 AWM: item F07379.

324 AWM: item F07405.

325 National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA), item 241098.

326 NFSA, item 90645.

327 NFSA, item 91036.

328 NAA: C102, 1127791.

329 Some of these can be located, with some difficulty, using the National Library of Australia's Trove search. The State Library of Victoria holds some photographs from the Morotai and Darwin trials in its Argus Newspaper Collection of Photographs.

330 A message suggestive of a prohibition order, from Army Melbourne to Crimsec Manus dated 7 June 1950, read: 'No objection to press photographing accused when moving between compound and courts provided naval security arrangements are observed. No photographs in court', AWM: AWM166, 4. If this was an order, it is not clear why it was issued. Although the trials on Manus were taking place on a military base, this was true of earlier trials as well. Moreover, if the overall purpose was to protect military security of the naval base, it seems to conflict with the permission that was granted to allow photographs to be taken of the accused outdoors while being marched to the court.

331 'Photographic evidence of war crimes committed against Australian prisoners of war and local people during the Japanese occupation of Ambon during World War II, used at the trials of Japanese officers and guards by Chief Prosecutor John Myles Williams, c.1945–1946', State Library of New South Wales, PXA 1237.


Chapter 7
The Australian Military Courts war crimes trials, 1945-51