The Department of State to the Spanish Embassy


The Department of State refers to memorandum (No. 234, Ex. 113.00 G) dated November 2, 1944 from the Spanish Embassy12 in charge of Japanese interests in the continental United States transmitting the request of the Spanish Embassy for a report on the fatal shooting at the Fitzsimons General Hospital, near Denver, Colorado, of three Japanese prisoners of war, Kuzunori Makino, Saburo [Page 1143] Nakagawa and Sadamu Okada, who were being treated at the hospital for tuberculosis.

Exhaustive investigations were conducted on November 5, 1944 in the cases of each of the three deceased prisoners. Thirteen witnesses, constituting all of the persons who had any knowledge regarding the events leading up to and in any manner connected with the incident in question, were examined in each case.

The three prisoners were admitted to the hospital on May 18, 1944. From the time of their arrival they were confined in the Japanese section of Ward B–1, with the exception of a few days during which they were convalescing from abdominal wounds resulting from their attempt to commit “hara kiri”. On September 1, 1944 the three prisoners refused all food for a period of about ten days.

At about 9 o’clock p.m. on October 29, 1944 the three prisoners were given a bottle of milk. One of the prisoners threw the bottle at the guard. It broke and spilled the milk on the floor. The prisoners adopted a belligerent attitude toward the guard who at about 9:25 p.m. called the Corporal of the Guard and informed him that there was trouble in Ward B–1. The Corporal, accompanied by two sentinels armed with clubs, proceeded to Ward B–1. Upon arrival they were informed by the guard on duty of the milk bottle incident. Thereupon they opened the door which led into the Japanese prisoners’ section, gave one of the prisoners a broom and ordered him to clean up the floor. Nakagawa said something in Japanese to his compatriots who then refused to obey the orders. Nakagawa seized the club from one of the sentinels and Nakino and Okada rushed the other, grasped him by the throat and tried to strangle him. The guard fired a shot into the floor in order to frighten the prisoners, but they continued their attack upon the sentinel who appealed to the guard for his gun. Upon obtaining it he ordered the prisoners back into their section. Instead of obeying, Nakagawa attacked him. The sentinel fired. Nakagawa fell to the floor. Thereupon the other two prisoners attacked the sentinel who fired at them both. Makino fell and Okada ran into his room. Upon examination all three prisoners were found to be dead.

According to the medical report Makino’s death was caused by a gun shot wound described as “Wound, perforating, result of bullet, left cranial cavity; entrance left frontal region; exit left tempero-occipital region, with destruction lateral inferior portion left cerebral hemisphere”.

Nakawaga died of a gun shot wound, described as “Wound, perforating, result of bullet entering right inferior anterior neck, through superior mediastinum, left innominate vein, left common carotid, left [Page 1144] phrenic nerve, left upper lobe lung, left 5th rib, skin left axilla, left humerus, left radial nerve, exit over left deltoid”.

The cause of Okada’s death was described as “Wound, perforating, result of bullet, entrance through right anterior thorax, through right rib (5th), right middle lobe lung, pericardial sac, right ventricle heart, left lower lobe lung, left leaflet diaphragm, left lobe liver, left 8th rib, exit left 6th interspace”.

The sentinel, when examined by the medical authority at about 10 p.m. was found to have sustained “a severe contusion of the mid-occipital parietal region of the skull”. The medical authority testified that in his opinion the injury was caused by some blunt object “used with considerable force”.

In each case the board which conducted the investigation found that the prisoner in question was engaged in a mutiny at the time of his death, that the sentinel “was acting in the execution of his duty as a sentinel” when he inflicted the fatal injuries, and that the shootings were in self defense.

  1. Not printed.