740.00116 PW/8–645

The United States Commissioner, United Nations War Crimes Commission (Hodgson), to the Secretary of State
No. 185

Sir: I have the honor to report that at the meeting of the United Nations War Crimes Commission held on August 1, 1945, the Chairman of the Commission83 requested my views regarding the preparation of recommendations in respect of Japanese war criminals.

In response to the Chairman’s request it was stated that it would be well for the members of the Commission and its committees to consider the preparation of such recommendations. It was also said that the subject should be given immediate attention.

Mr. Oldham84 supported this suggestion and said that at least two Governments felt that the Commission had not given sufficient attention to the Far East and Pacific. He hoped that definite recommendations [Page 903] would be made and that they would include the setting up of a system such as Crowcass85 in the Far East and Pacific areas. He felt that the subject should be referred to Committee II.

M. de Baer86 said that he was surprised to hear that two Governments believed that the Commission had neglected the Japanese war. It was for the Governments carrying on the Pacific war to submit information and cases. The Commission first needed information and cases about Japanese war crimes before it could formulate reliable recommendations. Only one Government—Australia—had furnished cases. How then, could the Governments feel dissatisfied with the attention given by the Commission to the Pacific war? They, not the Commission, should be held responsible.

Mr. Oldham said that he agreed with General de Baer, but urged the advantage of action.

The Chairman said that he also agreed with General de Baer, and observed that apart from the Australian cases no cases concerning Japanese atrocities had come before Committee I. He intimated that the Governments had failed to furnish the basic information, and he asked Mr. Oldham if Australia was acting for the United Kingdom and the Netherlands in war crimes matters in the Pacific.

Mr. Oldham stated that Australia was acting for the United Kingdom in the South, South-West and West Pacific, but not elsewhere in the Pacific or Far East. Australia did not act for the Netherlands.

The Chairman then inquired as to the reason for the failure of the Governments to file cases against the Japanese.

Sir Torick Ameer Ali replied that India had some cases ready, but had not decided whether to submit them to the Commission or the Sub-Commission at Chungking.

Dr. Liang87 said that he had been assured that the bulk of Eastern and Pacific cases would be presented to the Sub-Commission at Chungking, although, of course, the Governments were free to present such cases to the Commission in London. Chinese cases, he believed, had been presented to the Sub-Commission, and to the best of his knowledge the Sub-Commission was proceeding with its work. He said that he wished to support the suggestion that the Commission should proceed to formulate recommendations, and believed that there should be a full discussion about the apprehension and trial of Japanese war criminals. In this regard he wished to remind the Commission that the Sub-Commission had no right to make recommendations.

The Chairman said that the time had come for a full and clear statement of the work of the Sub-Commission to be supplied to the [Page 904] Commission. He then pointed out that the Moscow Declaration88 did not apply to Japanese war criminals, hence no principles had been laid down concerning their disposition. He felt that action was needed, that in addition to recommendations, the Commission should have particulars concerning the Japanese who should be considered “key-men” and should prepare a list of Japanese holding “key” positions similar to Lists 7 and 9.

Dr. Liang said the Chinese Embassy had only information contained in the minutes of the Sub-Commission which had been circulated to the Commission, but he had the impression that the Sub-Commission’s work was proceeding according to plan and not more slowly than circumstances warranted. The beginning stage of the Sub-Commission’s work should be compared with the beginning stage of that of the main Commission. If desired, the Embassy would be glad to ask the Sub-Commission for a statement. The main Commission had only recently taken up the question of major criminals. When its attitude was clearly defined, the Sub-Commission would do the same. It was easy to ask the latter to investigate evidence and establish lists of major criminals.

Mr. Oldham said that at the National Offices Conference Colonel Goff89 and he himself had suggested that the drawing up of a list of Japanese major criminals, guilty of offences against the Chinese, should become one of the urgent tasks of the Sub-Commission. China had had two excellent representatives at the Conference and he had been expecting the suggested list to be forthcoming. The minutes of the Sub-Commission gave no information about cases having been presented to it.

Dr. Liang repeated that the proper course was to address an inquiry to the Sub-Commission, which the Embassy would be very glad to forward. A responsible statement as to its work could only come from the Sub-Commission. He would consult the minutes of the National Offices Conference and ask the Sub-Commission to take up the listing of major war criminals.

On August 3rd the Acting United Kingdom representative referred to the mentioned discussion at the meeting of the Commission, and inquired concerning the omission of the United States to file any cases and, in particular, Japanese cases. He intimated that the absence of Japanese cases may be the subject of further discussion in the Commission.

[Page 905]

Information is requested whether the United States Government intends to file any cases concerning Japanese war crimes with the Commission in the near future.


Joseph V. Hodgson

Lt. Col., JAGD, AUS
  1. Lord Wright, representative for Australia.
  2. John E. Oldham, assistant to Lord Wright.
  3. Central Registry of War Criminals and Security Suspects (in Europe).
  4. Marcel de Baer, representative for Belgium.
  5. Liang Yuen-li, Counselor of the Chinese Embassy in the United Kingdom and assistant to the representative for China, Ambassador V. K. Wellington Koo.
  6. Joint Four Nation Declaration on General Security, signed at Moscow, October 30, 1943; Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. i, p. 755.
  7. Col. Abe McGregor Goff, U.S. representative.