POW Camp #1 - Page 3
IN THE MATTER OF WAR CRIMES
|The Intricate Relationship between
How do we treat our enemies? The treatment of foreigners in wartime is often seen as a meter that indicates the maturity of a particular country's awareness of human rights has been developed. Japan, which sincethe establishment of the Meiji government had been involved in a number of foreign conflicts, had developed various policies concerning the treatment of captives. For example, in 1904 after its declaration of war against Russia, Japan stipulated 'Rules Concerning the Treatment of Prisoners'. In addition, Japan both ratified and promulgated the Hague Convention concerning 'Laws and Customs of Land Warfare' on 13 January 1910. The Meiji government, as part of its concern with the pending problem of the amendment of 'unequal' treaties, accepted international law and endeavoured to ensure the 'humane' treatment of captives through international law. Although the discrepancy in the treatment of Asians and Europeans was a problem, both government and army were conscious of international law. It is probably correct to say that the clear change in the position of the Japanese army towards this matter dates from the period of the Japanese invasion of China.
Japan had participated in the signing ceremony on 27 July 1929 of the Geneva Convention Concerning the Treatment of Prisoners of War, but it did not ratify the Convention. At the time of signing, agreement concerning the treaty had not even been reached among the Japanese Privy Council, and the Japanese army had opposed it for the reason that:
while members of the Imperial Army are not expected ever to become prisoners of war, the same cannot necessarily be said of members of foreign forces; accordingly, despite the seemingly mutual nature of the convention in form, the duty of adherence it imposes upon us is entirely one-sided.
Also, the study of international law concerning war was excluded from the curriculum of Japanese military academies. A customary phrase concerning 'respect for international law' was erased from the Imperial proclamation concerning the opening of hostilities. This disregard of the international rules of war by the government and the military was a significant factor in the subsequent mistreatment of internees and captives during the war.
The existence of a 'battlefield code' of not allowing oneself to be taken captive was also significant. Soldiers were not taught of the existence of the Geneva Convention, but they were forced to memorise the 'battlefield code'. Such a mentality encouraged an attitude of contempt among soldiers towards prisoners of war. The difficulties of the paymaster in obtaining food for internees perhaps reflected this deep-seated military antagonism towards their captives. We must also recognise that the social atmosphere in which the enemy was referred to as Kichiku Beiei ('American and British devils') promoted a degeneration in the treatment of internees.
In addition to these problems of attitude within the military, there was also a significant discrepancy between Japan and the Allied States from the very beginning of the establishment of the POW camps and military internment centres, concerning interpretation of the 'application' of the Geneva Convention. The problem of the treatment of captives was not considered to form part of the main work of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs; instead it was passed on to diplomats and bureaucrats who had evacuated back to Japan after the war broke out, and who therefore had no firm position in the bureaucracy.
There is also an evident discrepancy between Japanese and Anglo- American attitudes towards the concept of 'mistreatment'. In the lower ranks of the Japanese army it can be safely said that there were no 'human rights'. In the army, where harsh physical punishment was inflicted on recruits as a matter of course, anything other than complete obedience towards orders was not tolerated from non-commissioned officers and soldiers, let alone from the Korean civilian employees. Beating and strikingof recruits and soldiers was a daily occurrence. Among the soldiers of the Japanese army, to whom cramped transportation, inferior living conditions and poor food and medicinewere routine, such 'mistreatment' of internees may not have come across as such. Lacking awareness of their own human rights, their understanding of the concept of 'mistreatment' must have been hazy at best.
Differences in the perception of laws and rules should also be considered. Within the Japanese military, on-the-spot punishment of transgressors of camp rules and orders without taking matters further (binta), was seen as being too warm-hearted. Many Japanese soldiers were unfamiliar with the processes of a thorough investigation of the transgression, followed by debate over the justification of the action through militarylaw. Korean recruits and the Indonesian 'troop supplements' were also beaten inthe normal course of their 'training'. In this way, junior officers with little or no knowledge of international law, and the Indonesian and Korean employees who had been trained under them, were placed in positions of authority at the military internment centres. Added to this situation was a shared mentality dominated by feelings of Japanese inferiority towards Anglo-American culture and fear regarding the superior physical strength of Caucasians that had been prevalent in Japan since the beginning of the Meiji era. Racistattitudes among the internees themselves also cannot be overlooked. For example, there was apparently no attempt at solidarity between Dutch citizens born in Holland and those born in the colonies, because of a perceived difference in status between them. As has been noted by Pramoedya Ananta Toer, even among the Dutch who had been born in the colonies, those with mixed Dutch and Indonesian blood were looked down upon.
Source: Utsumi, Aiko, Japanese Army Internment Policies for Enemy Civilians During the Asia-Pacific War (Multicultural Japan, Chapter 11), 1996
I, No. 14721 Lt. Col. Martin Dunstan Sedgwick SAUNDERS, Royal Artillery, with address c/o School of Anti-Aircraft Artillery, Manorbier, nr. Tenby make oath and say as follows:-
1. I was taken prisoner by the Japanese in March 1942, and after spending some time in JAVA I was put on board a ship with other PsW to go to JAPAN. We broke our journey at SINGAPORE and we moved to another ship, the Dai Nichi Maru. There were altogether 1300 PsW on board and the voyage was very uncomfortable. We arrived in JAPAN on the 26 November 1942.
From separate report:
(From Java were were taken to Singapore on 21 October 1942 in preparation for being sent to Japan. At Singapore we were then moved to another ship, the DAI NICHI MARU, on board of which we were joined by a further 800 British personnel. On arrival in JAPAN, men in poor condition were left behind at MOJI (Selected by the Japanese) and I later learned that out of 254 men so left, 125 died. At MOJI the original 500 men were split, and I was sent with 23 other officers and 242 other ranks to KUMAMOTO.)
2. We arrived at MOJI where we were all split up and I was sent with 23 other officers and 242 Other Ranks to KUMAMOTO. Practically every man was suffering from scurvey, pellegra and general exhaustion. The day after our arrival at camp the weather turned to snow. Men were in possession of only tropical clothing. The Japanese supplied no warm clothing until March 1943, when the winter was nearly over, with the exception of old Japanese Army greatcoats. By the end of March 31 men had died, and this total was increased to 35 by the 1st May. These deaths were practically all due to poor food, lack of warm clothes, totally inadequate medical supplies and, in some cases, the brutal maltreatment on the part of the Japanese authorities.
3. During our whole period of captivity in JAPAN right up to 25th April '45, we were under the command of the same commandant, a Lt. SAKAMOTO. This officer was an uneducated man of a brutal and callous temperament, and was in no wise fitted for the position of Commandant. He had as his military Interpreter during the whole period, a three star soldier - TAKEO KATSURA. This man not only acted as Interpreter but was the undisputed power behind the throne, who influenced the life at the camp to an overwhelming extent. These two men are, in my opinion, entirely responsible for the cruel suffering and indignities to which the men in their camps were subjected.
4. The camp at KUMAMOTO was known as No. 1 Sub Camp, FUKUOKA Area, and wherever we went after we left KUMAMOTO the camp itself was always called No. 1 Sub Camp, FUKUOKA Area.
5. While we were at KUMAMOTO we were employed in digging trenches round an aerodrome [Kengun Airfield] (NOTE: Presently Japan Land Self-Defense Force base) and making a road. We were not unreasonably hard worked. Our food consisted of rice three times a day. Later in the summer of 1943 we were given potatoes and bread for about six weeks and nearly had enough to eat.
6. Medical arrangements were very bad. The Japanese doctors were callous, brutal and indifferent. Despite the fact that there was a hospital within sight of the camp we were refused permission to have any operations done there. This refusal on the part of the Japanese resulted directly in the death of one of the PsW who died of appendicitis. Also, another PW who had developed frostbite which turned to gangrene was similarly refused entry in the hospital for the purpose of operation. The Japanese even refused to allow the British doctors to carry out the operation in their hospital. This PW died as result of that refusal.
7. While we were at KUMAMOTO 35 men died. Another man who was too sick to work was deliberately forced to go out work all of one day in bitterly cold weather. He had previously been refused admission to the hospital and as a result of his having to go out to work he died. The Japanese method of deciding who was sick enough to remain in barracks for the day as follows:- Everybody was forced to parade in the early morning however sick they might be. They also had to leave the barracks on their way to work. However, once outside the gate, should any man collapse he was permitted to return. It must be emphasised, that however ill a person was and whatever his temperature might he was forced to go on parade and march as far at least as just outside the main gates before he could possibly return to bed in the barracks. This treatment resulted in several men's death. One of the men who died was called Gnr. RUSHTON of the 79th LAA Bty.
8. Accommodation was very poor. The huts, made of thin wood, had leaky roofs and walls patched with newspaper. The damp mud floors were subject to flooding, and fires, for drying purposes were only permitted on very rare occasions. The windows consisted of wooden shutters which were opened in all weathers at 05.00 hrs daily.
9. No special treatment was afforded to the Officers, though after the first month, they were removed to a separate hut, and when spring came were given a garden in which to work. During the summer months there was some slight relaxation of the prison discipline, and health improved although some 25% of the camp was suffering from sepsis. All through captivity the Japanese made stringent to forbid any communication between officers and me. These efforts completely failed.
10. I frequently made complaints about the way we were treated, but it was explained to me that officers and men would be treated exactly alike. Not only were we treated exactly like the men but all of us where treated like the lowest Japanese Privates. On one occasion I was able to complain to the Colonel Commandant, FUKUOKA Area, which did result in a slight improvement.
11. On the 20 November 1943 we moved to KASHI. In this camp accommodation was adequate. All personnel, officers, men, and the hospital were in one large warehouse. This warehouse consisted of concrete walls and floor with a tin roof, and was, in consequence, very cold, noisy, but dry. While we were joined by 40 Dutch, 30 British, 1 American doctor, and 3 American Enlisted men. At this camp, being near Headquarters, discipline was very much tightened up. There were many instances of beatings and brutalities by the Commandant, KATSURA, and a Sgt. HORZUME [Hozumi?]. This Sgt. HORZUME was additional staff and had joined us just before we left KUMAMOTO. He was brutal, sadistic, and bad-tempered and enjoyed beating people up. The following are examples of the treatment we received while we were at KASHI from Sgt. HORZUME and others:-
Two officers were beaten up by Sgt. HORZUME for no reason. The Cook-Sgt., aged 48, was beaten up, his mouth was split open and teeth knocked out, by Sgt. HORZUME for no reason.
One bombardier was knocked senseless by the commandant and the bombardier's face ground into the earth by the Commandant's boot. One man was made to run stark naked round the compound in the depths of a winter night.
In addition, there were numerous instances of single and mass beatings, with the men forced to kneel for long periods with bamboo sticks behind their knees, while Japanese personnel ,notably Sgt. HORZUME and KATSURA beat them savagely with bamboo rods. All officers, who were not in hospital, oblivious of rank or age, were forced to pull a very heavy concrete roller over broken clay soil for seven hours every day for the first three months of winter. This was termed 'voluntary work.'
12. In April 1944 we moved to MISHERODA [Mushiroda]. This camp was the worst of all our camps for accommodation. The huts were made of wooden frames and the supporting walls were made of a tree bark. Roofing was inadequate and thin thatch, which leaked continuously like a sieve, after one real downpour. Drainage was non-existent, and after the rains the huts and camp generally were quagmires. The commandant apologised for the camp, and said that it was merely to be occupied for the summer. In point of fact we did not move until half way through January 1945.
13. Here we were joined by 198 American Civilian Internees from WAKE ISLAND, and 165 Dutch soldiers, mostly natives. Beatings up and brutal treatment were worse than ever, Special ill-treatment was meted out to the Americans, many of whom were old men. Four officers, in particular, were brutally beaten up. This number included two Dutch doctors. The beatings-up were carried out by blows with wooden slippers across the face, and bamboo canes on the upper and lower legs. Two of these beatings were known and approved by the Commandant, and were carried out by the interpreter KATSURA. The Dutch doctor, who was one of the victims and was particularly brutally beaten-up, was interviewed by the Commandant. The Commandant asked him why his face was in such a state, and on being told the reason remarked "that is what happens when you interfere with the Japanese".
Men were tortured in the Japanese barrack rooms by the Japanese guard. The climax was reached when one man was bound by ropes to a telegraph pole and left for eight hours in the sun, by personal order of the Commandant. This man had, undoubtedly, committed an offence, but not one that merited such brutal punishment. This man was Gnr. Marshall of the 79th LAA Bty. 25 men died in this camp, 24 of them between the 26.11.44 and 16.1.45.
14. This camp was supposed to be light-work camp for the summer months. On 1.12.44 several hospital cases and men weak physically, from mining camps in the neighbourhood were moved to our camp to recuperate, while some of our own fir men took their places. The presence of these weak and ill men explain the heavy death-roll in the two month mentioned above. Responsibility for these deaths must lie with the higher authorities who ordered the move, but the callous and indifferent attitude adopted by our commandant, Lt. SAKAMOTO, materially contributed to these deaths. As a final case, one physically weak Dutchman while on working-party was beaten by the guard so severely that he died two days later.
15. On 18 Jan 1945 we moved to NAZIMA [Najima, though actually Hakozaki site] 4 miles away. The move to this camp took place in a heavy and continuous blizzard of snow. All men who though sick were able to stand, were refused conveyance, and forced to make the march on foot. Several were eventually carried into the new camp by their comrades. Within a week of arrival at the new camp, six men had died. Of all our camps in JAPAN, this was by far the best for accommodation and lay-out, but it was largely uncompleted on our arrival. Here, at the end of January, we were joined by 193 American officers and Enlisted men direct from the PHILIPPINE ISLANDS. They were literally walking skeletons, and 53 died between 31.1.45 and 25.4.45. In addition, between 22.1.45 and 13.4.45 there were 22 deaths amongst the original camp personnel. Many of these deaths were due to lack of medical attention and supplies. In some cases, prescriptions made out by the Japanese doctor were deliberately held back by the Japanese medical orderlies and eventually given to our doctors too late.
16. The following are the descriptions of Lt. SAKAMOTO, Interpreter KATSURA and Sgt. HORZUME, whom I consider responsible for the maltreatment which we suffered while PsW.
SAKAMOTO was an ex-Sgt. Maj. who had been newly promoted Subaltern in Christmas 1942 and had been in many Chinese campaigns. He was a fine athlete and a good swordsman. He was slim, clean-shaven, about 40 years old. 5'7" in height.
KATSURA was revoltingly fat; he weighed about 12 st; 5'6" or 5'7" in height; clean shaven; spoke fluent American; he had been to America for about 15 years before the war. Riddled with VD. His addresses were either: (a) Imperial Hotel, KOBE, or (b) 23. Asa-Asani, Mikata-Son, Oshima-Gun, Kagoshima-Ken, Japan.
HORZUME was about 5'9" in height; very thick set; strongly built; clean-shaven; about 12 st. in weight. Reputed to be a fine wrestler and Judo-expert. Looking cunning, and had particularly narrow slit eyes, even for a Japanese.
17. With the regard to Red Cross supplies, these on arrival in any of our camps were, with one exception, kept back for several days by our Commandant. He steadfastly refused to permit me any latitude in their distribution. Boots and clothing were kept in the Japanese stores. Large numbers of these were never issued, even when some men were entirely without boots or adequate clothing. Red Cross medical supplies were only issued in minute quantities. At NAZIMA [Najima] camp with the particularly sick American from the PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, 10 cases of medical supplies which reached the camp a few days before their arrival, were never issued. The Commandant refused all applications to do so. At the Main Red Cross store in FUKUOKA, there were literally hundreds of cases of medical stores which were never issued to PW camps (of which there were 23 in the FUKUOKA area). This can be testified by the American doctor, Capt. W. KOSTECKI ; by some of my own officers; and by a party of five men whose permanent daily work was the care and packing of all Red Cross Stores in the main warehouse. Finally despite numerous requests and protests by me, no Dental treatment was permitted by the Commandant from the time of our arrival in JAPAN until NAZIMA [Najima] camp, over two years.
18. With regard to mail, the censoring and distribution of letters was organized at PW HQ in FUKUOKA. The number of letters censored daily and distributed, depended entirely on the whim of the Japanese civilian censors. Several of our own officers worked for many months in the HQ offices, sorting thousands of letters for the 23 camps in the area. There were four civilian censors, and on many days their combined output of work amounted to some 50 letters. This indifference by the Japanese censors caused great mental strain for everyone, and, in addition to the main Camp Commandant at FUKUOKA, who must take the responsibility, the main culprit was the Chief Censor, Mr. WATANABE who was quite unspeakably idle and lazy.
19. On 25 April 1945 I and nine other British officers together with 140 Americans, all survivors from the PHILIPPINE ISLANDS were moved to JINSEN camp KOREA. We left behind 17 Officers and about 700 men.
SWORN by the above-named
Martin Dunstan SAUNDERS
at 6, Spring-Gardens in the city of Westminster
this 13th day of March 1946
(signed) M.D.S. SAUNDERS, LIEUT. COLONEL RA.
AMSELL MACDONALD, MAJOR.
Judge Advocate General's Office, LONDON.
REPORT OF M. D.
SAUNDERS, LT. COL. R. A., ON POW CAMPS
The period of captivity falls naturally into four parts:-
The following Report is forwarded by me as the Senior British Officer in each of the camps. Personnel were always changing, and at one time, British, Australian and Dutch were all mixed together.
The following are some general points not mentioned in the main Report.
(1) The well-known Japanese dictum that to be taken a P.O.W. was a disgraceful act, and that suicide was the correct alternative, was the major influence on the treatment meted out to us. Our Camp Commandant on several occasions made that very plain to me. Also at one camp, after evening roll-call on the anniversary of our arrival in Japan, the Senior Japanese N.C.O. made us all a speech in which he emphasized that he considered us cowards, and that any treatment was good enough for us.
All through captivity, until our arrival in JINSEN [near Inchon, Korea] there was practically no differentiation in treatment between officers and other ranks. "Lip service" was paid to the fact that Batmen were permitted, but these men were only allowed to clear up after meals. All menial work about the officers' Hut was done by officers. A share of the dirtiest camp fatigues was frequently allotted to the officers, and no consideration was shown for age or rank.
Such fatigues as emptying excreta and urine pits, shovelling coal, carrying rice sacks, etc, were constantly given to the officers. As a direct result from these fatigues two officers developed hernia.
(2) Food throughout was short. The actual bulk ration of rice was sometimes more than given to the Japanese soldiers. Essential foods such as oils, fat, and sugar disappeared entirely after the first year, although up to the end Japanese soldiers received their full rations.
(3) Although, unlike some camps, the officers were not required to take down their badges of rank, they were compelled to salute, at all times, all Japanese soldiers, down to the latest joined recruit.
(4) Medical treatment throughout the 3½ years was, in effect, non-existent. Drugs etc, known to be in the camp, were never issued. Fatal results occurred due to this disgraceful treatment, particularly in the early days of captivity.
(5) No camp to which we were moved was ever ready for occupation. Consequently, for the first two months in each camp, life was even more uncomfortable than it subsequently became.
(6) Beatings-up and hitting were given out to all, from the Senior Officer, i.e. myself, down to the private soldier. These beatings-up appear to me, on looking back, to have been calculated deliberately, since they took place at studied intervals of time. They were obviously "to keep us down".
(7) Finally I wish to put on record that despite all their greatest efforts, the Japanese failed to quench the general spirit of optimism which always prevailed amongst us.
(8) Red Cross Supplies
Those, on arrival in any of our camps were, with one exception, kept back for several days by our Commandant. He steadfastly refused to permit me any latitude in their distribution. Boots and clothing were kept in the Japanese stores. Large numbers of these were never issued, even when some men were entirely without boots or adequate clothing. Red Cross Medical supplies were only issued in minute quantities. At NAZIMA Camp, with the particularly sick Americans from the P.I., 10 cases of medical supplies which reached the camp a few days before their arrival were never issued. The Commandant refused all applications to do so. At the main Red Cross Store in FUKUOKA, there were literally hundreds of cases of medical stores which were never issued to P.O.W. Camps. (Of which there were 23 in the Fukuoka area). This can be testified to by the American Doctor, Capt. W. Kostecki; by some of my own officers; and by a party of five men whose permanent daily work was the care and packing of all Red Cross Stores in the main warehouse.
Finally, despite numerous requests and protests by me, no Dental treatment was permitted by the Commandant from the time of our arrival in Japan, until NAZIMA camp - over two years.
The censoring and distribution of letters was organized at P.O.W. H.Q. in FUKUOKA. The number of letters censored daily and distributed depended entirely on the whim of the Japanese Civilian censors. Several of our own Officers worked for many months in the H.Q. Offices, sorting thousands of letters for the 25 Camps in the area. There were four civilian Censors, and on many days their combined output of work amounted to some 50 letters. Our Officers know that many letters which they have sorted, and which had been censored as far back as March 1945, have never yet been sent out. (Present date September 1945.)
This indifference by the Japanese Censors caused a great mental strain to everyone, and, in addition to the Main Camp Commandant at FUKUOKA, who must take the responsibility, the main culprit was the Chief Censor, MR WATANABE, who was quite unspeakably idle and lazy.
See full report by Saunders in PDF format.
|The Americans and Japanese had very different
about the idea of becoming a prisoner. To us, it was the most
humiliating thing that could happen. We were educated to never allow
ourselves to fall into the hands of the enemy. It wasn't out of fear or
what they would do to us, it was the shame that our families would bear
if it were learned that we were POWs that forced the Japanese military
and civilians to throw themselves off of cliffs and blow themselves up
with hand grenades to avoid capture. I know this is very difficult for
westerners to understand, but shame plays a significant role in this
This is why we thought so little of the POWs we had taken on Wake. These men had allowed themselves to become captives and were not worthy of honor. They surely must feel to ashamed to ever return to their families. The Americans were under the impression that they had done their best and had been ordered to surrender. This is why the compound was so lively. Men were joking, laughing, talking in loud voices, and generally not acting like POWs at all. Did they know no shame?
From Wake Island
Sight by Shigeyoshi Ozeki (Translated by Daniel King)