The Ambassador in Japan (Grew) to the Secretary of State

No. 2608

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Embassy’s despatches No. 2519 of August 3, 1937, and No. 2551 of August 18, 1937,22 and to previous despatches concerning the trial of General Mazaki23 and the participants in the Incident of February 26, 1936.

For the alleged reason that the evidence was considered insufficient for conviction, on September 25, 1937, the Tokyo Court Martial acquitted General Jinzaburo Mazaki of the charge of having aided the rebels in the uprising of February 26, 1936. There is enclosed a clipping from the Japan Advertiser of September 26, 1937,24 containing the Tokyo Court Martial’s statement with regard to its decision, as given in translation by Domei.

It would appear from this statement that the Court Martial was in possession of ample evidence to convict General Mazaki not only of complicity in the Incident but also of having lent moral encouragement to the insurgents, if not of having given them active aid. For example, as admitted by the Court Martial, General Mazaki had full knowledge of the “Showa Restoration” movement as far back as the summer of 1935; he had frequent interviews with the plotters from December 1935 until the outbreak and was well aware of their aims; and he let it be known to the plotters that he was bitterly opposed to his dismissal in July 1935 from the post of Inspector General of Military Education and to the death sentence pronounced against Lt. Col. Aizawa on May 7, 1936, for the murder of Major General Nagata on August 12, 1935, thus contributing to the unrest of the insurgents. Furthermore, he was informed by one of the rebels at about four-thirty o’clock on the morning of February 26, 1936, that the Premier, the Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal, and others were to be attacked, and he subsequently interceded with the higher authorities of the War Office in favor of the insurgents, stating that he “understood very well the spirit in which the rebels had acted.”

It is probable that despite the apparently conclusive evidence against General Mazaki the Court Martial found it advisable to acquit him in view of his distinguished career and of the unfavorable repercussion that might have resulted from convicting him at this time of national emergency.

[Page 720]

The Nichi Nichi of September 25 quoted a War Office spokesman as having said that the disposal of General Mazaki’s case had ended the consideration by the Tokyo Court Martial of the February 26 Incident. In this connection, it should be stated that Zei Nishida and Kazuteru Kita, who were sentenced to death on August 14, 1937 (Embassy’s despatch No. 2551 of August 18, 1937), as ringleaders in the insurrection, were executed on August 19, as announced by the Ministry of War.

Respectfully yours,

Joseph C. Grew
  1. Neither printed.
  2. Formerly Japanese Inspector General of Military Education.
  3. Not reprinted.