740.00115 Pacific War/2421

The Spanish Embassy to the Department of State

No. 125
Ex. 113.01


The Spanish Embassy presents its compliments to the Department of State and begs to transmit a Memorandum received through the “Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores” in Madrid, from the Japanese Government and which reads as follows:

Memorandum—May 23, 1944—

Japanese Government did not make request to U. S. Government for inspection of documents and records relating to cases Oshima and Wakasa who were shot dead, but since measures taken by U. S. Authorities [Page 1113] in regard those cases were unfair and contrary to law of humanity, Japanese Government lodged firm protest[s] with U.S. Government89 and reserving all rights to further claim, demanded latter should make proper investigation these cases, punish persons found responsible, and guarantee non repetition such lamentable incidents.

U. S. Government, however, simply assert90 those victims were shot dead because they had attempted [to] make their escape. Japanese Government cannot admit this assertion for reasons stated below. In view, especially of subsequent occurrence similar affairs, viz: One Japanese evacuee was shot and injured by guard at Gila River Relocation Centre, December 1st, 1943, and three other[s] fired at during same month according to most reliable information, Japanese Government repeat herewith their protest and claim calling most careful attention U. S. Government to matter in question and from humanitarian point of view they emphatically demand, as step absolutely necessary for preventing recurrence such abominable incidents, strict prohibition unlawful firing by guards and sentinels so that utmost uneasiness felt by such large number of internees and evacuees may be removed and safety of their lives secured.

(1) According reliable information received by Japanese Government, Kensaburo Oshima, whose mind had been deranged was walking toward barbed wire fence May 12th, 1942 at about 8 A.M. Soldier guard saw him and levelling his pistol approached him. A Japanese who happened to witness that cried out at top voice, “That’s a mad man, don’t fire”, and tried stop soldier shoot. Sentinel on watch tower heard cry and hurriedly lowered his gun, but soldier who had been following Oshima still continued his pursuit and having cornered victim within short distance, three metres or so, fired at him twice. Poor lunatic had his skull shot through and fell dead on spot.91

As action of soldier on watch tower has shown clearly, guard murdered without any justifiable reason and committed most inhuman crime for which guard must be held responsible.

(2) Most reliable additional information just received clearly established following acts:

Wakasa was shot and killed by sentinel Gerald B. Philpott of watch tower number nine on April 11th, 1943 at 7:30 p.m. Spot where Wakasa fell dead was six feet and four inches inside boundary fence relocation Centre and approximately two hundred and forty yards away from nearest watch tower, distance which according result actual experiment made view of challenger barely audible [sic].
Judging from position and attitude Wakasa’s dead body, it was evident he had happened to be walking parallel with fence facing toward sentinel. Under such circumstances it was genuinely demoniacal atrocity, making utterly light of human life, hastily to conclude [Page 1114] he was attempting escape and to shoot and kill him on spot without attempting any more appropriate measures.92
Articles 22 to 25 of instructions for Government of Armies of United States in field, and general orders number 100, April 24th, 1863, War of Rebellion, official records series 3 111 154 (See especially Article 77) clearly state that sentry shall never shoot prisoners of war for intent escape.
Mr. James F. Hughes, Assistant Director Centre, expressed sincere regret incident had taken place and stated Relocation Official[s] were powerless give effect to provisions memorandum of understanding as to functions of military police units at Relocation Centres and areas administered by War Relocation Authorities dated July 8th, 1942, and especially Paragraph 7.
Thereof in which no mention is made of sentry towers or wire fences. He gave it as his opinion one sentinel posted at principal entrance centre would be quite sufficient and any other sentinels would be unnecessary. He stated further, subsequently to occurrence incident, both Japanese and American Japanese descent at Centre lost sense security for themselves and their families and refused proceed perform labor outside centre boundaries.

As regards danger approaching barbed wire in spite Authorities official declaration to effect such danger had been duly notified to residents at Centre through medium centre organ, Topaz Times, minute examination said paper shows that though it contains warning against crawling fences centre, no references made to any danger of shooting from sentinels.

Topaz Times April 12th, 1943, which announced death Wakasa, states it happened, “While attempting to crawl through the west fence”, but according to testimony of witness he had never tried to crawl when he was assaulted by his murderer.

Again although State Department affirms in reply evacuees at Relocation Centre were officially and unmistakably notified of fact sentinels were invested with right firing and killing any offenders against Centre regulations, Japanese evacuees unanimously declared that they had never been warned by Centre authorities of possibility of being shot dead if they approached boundary fences.”

  1. Memoranda Nos. 105, Ex. 119.01, May 12, 1943, and 353, Ex. 113.01 C, December 16, 1943, from the Spanish Embassy, not printed.
  2. Replies of June 29, 1943, and March 17, 1944, not printed.
  3. The Department’s memorandum of June 29, 1943, to the Spanish Embassy, stated: “The guard fired only after the internee had climbed over two barbed, wire fences surrounding the internment camp and was in the process of climbing the outside fence.” (311.9415/415)
  4. The Department’s memorandum of June 29, 1943, stated: “Mr. Wakasa was shot under conditions which indicated to the sentry that he was attempting to pass out of the relocation center at an unauthorized place. Mr. Wakasa was repeatedly challenged by the sentry and only when he failed to observe the order to halt, was he fired upon.” (311.9415/415)