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Japanese War Crimes Trials: Sgt Leonard Siffleet

Discussion in 'Massacres and Atrocities of the Second World War' started by Jim, Oct 11, 2006.

  1. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    The American public largely ignored the war crimes trials in Tokyo and throughout Asia in 1946-1948. Unlike the charismatic Nazi leadership, who were infamous throughout Europe, the Japanese leadership was not well known. That was due in part to the Allied propaganda, which did not want to criminalize the Emperor. If the Allied public saw him as a criminal, they would demand his removal, which would have prolonged the war.

    Hideki Tojo, former Japanese premier and war minister, takes the stand during the Japanese war crime trials.

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    Hirohito's role in the conflict is not clear. He is generally seen as ineffectual, although there was some evidence offered in the 1990's that showed he was an active participant in the war planning. However, to maintain order in Japan, the Emperor was not indicted.

    The Men put on trial in 1947 and 1948 were the first of 20,000 civilian and military former leaders who had either killed prisoners or had participated in the vague crime of instigating the war. While many would endure prison sentences of varying lengths, 900 were executed in trials around Asia.

    Those executed included Hideki Tojo, General Masaharu Homma, Tomoyuki Yamashita, and five others who were blamed for atrocities during the war. The Japanese argued that they were subject to war crimes trials simply because of the heinous crimes of their German allies, essentially claiming the Allies were finding them guilty by association.

    What was never examined at the War Crimes Trials in Tokyo were the actions of Unit 731 in China. Using biological, chemical and thermal tests on Chinese and Allied prisoners, they dropped bubonic plague on Chinese cities, froze naked Soviet prisoners in refrigerators, and experimented with anthrax, mustard and phosgene gas on POWs. Very little about unit 731 was known until the 1970's. The Tribunal does investigate the forced sexual slavery of hundreds of thousands of Korean, Chinese, Dutch and Filipino women. No compensation, or even a statement of apology, is given.

    New Guinea, 1943. An Australian soldier, Sgt Leonard Siffleet, about to be beheaded with a katana sword. Many Allied prisoners of war were summarily executed by Japanese forces during the Pacific War.

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    Australian Sergeant Leonard Siffleet was part of a Special Forces reconnaissance unit in New Guinea, then occupied by Japanese Imperial forces. He and two Ambonese companions were captured by partisan tribesmen and handed over to the Japanese.

    All three men were interrogated, tortured and confined for approximately two weeks before being taken down to Aitape Beach on the afternoon of 24 October 1943. Bound and blindfolded, surrounded by Japanese and native onlookers, they were forced to the ground and executed by beheading, on the orders of Vice-Admiral Michiaki Kamada. The officer who executed Siffleet detailed a private to photograph him in the act. The photograph of Siffleet’s execution was discovered on the body of a dead Japanese soldier by American troops in April 1944.

    As a part of a propaganda effort, it was published in many newspapers and in Life magazine but was thought to depict Flight Lieutenant Bill Newton, VC, who had been captured in Salamaua, Papua New Guinea, and beheaded on 29 March 1943. The photo became an enduring image of the war.

    (Siffleet’s executioner, Yasuno Chikao, has been variously reported as having died before the end of the war, and as having been captured and sentenced to be hanged, with his sentence subsequently commuted to 10 years imprisonment. In Europe, the mortality rate of the Allied prisoners of Germans was 1.1%, while it was 37% for the Allied prisoners of Japanese).


    What was never recounted in either the European or Asian war crimes trials were the Allies' war crimes. Systematic atrocities on the scale of Manila or Nanjing were never committed, but there had never been an apology or understanding of the horrors of firebombing of civilians and the use of atomic weapons.

    Most of the 20,000 men were released when the Americans ended their occupation in 1952. Many right-wing Japanese deny there were war crimes at all.
     
  2. Spitfire XIV-E

    Spitfire XIV-E New Member

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    I think Tojo was a Scapegoat in some ways. He took the Heat for Hirohito so that he wouldn't have to face War Crimes Trials. However he did push Japan towards War in the latter part of 1941 no doubt about it ...
     
  3. dfisher

    dfisher New Member

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    Japanese War Crimes - A cover up?

    It's always amazed me how little you hear about Japanese war crimes, compared to their German counterparts.
    Some of the biological experiments carried out in China are on a scale with those of Dr Mengele etc, but they never get the publicity - is this something to do with the Japanese scientists working for the US after the war, I wonder :madman:
     
  4. brandon05

    brandon05 New Member

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    I would love to read more about this Unit 731. This is the first I have heard about it. I agree that not as much attention has been paid to the Japanese war crimes and that is a travesty because some of the stuff I have read they were just as sick as the Germans.
     
  5. Cabel1960

    Cabel1960 recruit

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    What the Japs did to the Chinese was as bad as what the Germans did with the Jews. It was only recently that the Japanese actually admitted to war crimes, thou i don't think any country was white as white.
     
  6. krrish

    krrish New Member

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    Once I watched the trials by Japanese over Chinese POWs in National Geographic channel.You can't imagine the cruelty shown to the POWs.After watching this, I always support the Atom Bomb attacks by US on Japan.
     
  7. tongyun

    tongyun New Member

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    As the son of a Chinese immigrant, this is one of those areas of WW II that just makes my blood boil. To this day, my mother has a deep hatred of the Japanese even though, because of a business decision, the majority of my Chinese relatives now live in Japan. What really infuriates me is how there are some Japanese who refuse to believe atrocities, like at Nanking, ever occurred.
     

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