740.00116 PW/7–1046

Memorandum by Miss Katherine B. Fife, Assistant to the Legal Adviser, to the Legal Adviser (Fahy)

Mr. Fahy: At the meeting of the War Crimes Committee (Committee No. 5)93 of the Far Eastern Commission which I attended on July 10, the question of the confiscation of the property of convicted war criminals was discussed. The acting chairman stated that the question of whether such property should be confiscated had been referred to Committee No. 5 by Committee No. 1,94 and that the latter Committee, if it were determined that confiscation should be made, would consider the question of its disposition (e.g. for reparation and reconstruction).

It seemed to be immediately assumed that the question referred to property of “major” war criminals only. In fact, the Soviet representative95 so stated specifically.

The British representative96 at the outset said that he thought any action by the Commission was premature, and that it should await the sentence by the Tokyo Tribunal. When the chairman asked my views, I said that, speaking entirely personally, I agreed with the British representative.

There was some discussion of what was being done in Germany. The chairman referred to the provisions of the Denazification Law. I called attention to the provisions of Control Council Law No. 10, pointing out, however, that forfeiture of property under that law was not mandatory as a punishment. I also called attention to paragraph 11 of the directive to SCAP, providing for the taking under control by Military Commanders of the property of persons taken into custody as war crimes suspects.

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Attention was also called to the Imperial Japanese Ordinance of May 29, 1946, providing for the taking into custody by the Japanese Minister of Finance of the property of persons detained, arrested or interned by order of SCAP.

The Soviet representative suggested that inquiry might be made of the U.S. Government as to whether the Tribunal in Tokyo intends to take action in respect to the property of the accused. No action was taken on this suggestion.

Question was raised as to whether the sentences in the Yamashita and Homma cases97 contained provisions as to the property of the defendant, but no one had information on this point.

It was decided that it was the sense of the meeting that since the property of the defendants was at present under control pursuant to the directive to SCAP and the Imperial Japanese Ordinance, the question of confiscation should be held in abeyance pending the judgment of the Tokyo Tribunal, and subject to the question being revived by any of the Governments.98

  1. C. L. Hsia (Hsia Ching-lin) of the Chinese delegation, chairman; Melquiades J. Gamboa, Philippines, deputy chairman.
  2. Reparations, Maj. J. Plimsoil, alternate Australian representative, chairman; G. A. Ph. Weyer, of the Netherlands delegation, deputy chairman.
  3. Rear Adm. S. S. Ramishvili, of the Soviet delegation.
  4. F. C. Everson, of the United Kingdom delegation.
  5. Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita, Japanese commander in chief in the Philippines at the time of the Japanese surrender, and Lt. Gen. Masaharu Homma, Japanese commander in chief at the time of the invasion of the Philippines, December 1941, were sentenced to death by U.S. military courts in the Philippines and executed in 1946.
  6. In a memorandum of August 9, 1946, Mr. Fahy expressed the view that “except as the judgment of the Tribunal affects property the distribution of property of convicted persons should be unaffected by conviction unless a policy decision is made to the contrary. The question of policy should be considered by the Far Eastern Commission, in which consideration Le will be glad to participate if desired.” (740.00116 PW/8–546.) Le was the symbol for the Legal Adviser’s Office.