740.00116 P.W./1–1647

The Assistant Secretary of State for Occupied Areas (Hilldring)10 to the State–War–Navy Coordinating Committee 11

top secret

Subject: Disposition of Property of Convicted War Criminals, Japan.

The annexed memorandum is submitted for the consideration of the State–War–Navy Coordinating Committee & has the approval of the Dept of State.

J. H. Hilldring
top secret

Reference: JCS 1380/15

Memorandum by the State Department Member, SWNCC

Subject: Disposition of Property of Convicted War Criminals, Japan.

the problem

1. To present to FEC through SWNCC the question of the disposition of the property of war criminals who die before completion of trial and of the property of convicted war criminals.

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facts bearing on the problem

. . . . . . .


6. The forfeiture of the property of convicted war criminals as such is a form of punishment and should be inflicted by the tribunal as part of the sentence if considered appropriate.

7. In principle forfeited property of convicted criminals and fines paid by them should be used to alleviate the wrongs of which they were convicted and, failing that, should be applied to the general purposes of the punishing authority. It is not feasible to single out among all those who suffered from Japanese acts victims of the particular convicted persons. Their injuries are included in the reparations bills of the aggrieved nations. So far as the forfeited property is capable of yielding foreign exchange, it will in any event be subject to measures for controlling foreign exchange. It would be unwise to earmark the proceeds of confiscated property in yen, because the Japanese Government is required in any event to supply yen for such purposes as SCAP directs. Accordingly the proceeds of fines and confiscated property should be applied to the benefit of the occupying forces to help defray the costs of the occupation.

8. With respect to the property of accused who die pending trial, no reason is perceived for a treatment different from property of acquitted persons, unless the offenses charged relate specifically to the property, or unless its acquisition or disposition is covered by other policy directives, in which case appropriate measures can be taken by SCAP.


9. The property of convicted war criminals should not be forfeited in absence of an order by the tribunal.

10. Property forfeited and fines levied pursuant to an order of a war crimes tribunal should be applied by SCAP to defray costs of the occupation.

11. The property of accused who die before completion of trial should be returned to the legal heirs, unless it is claimed that its acquisition was unlawful, or inconsistent with occupation policy directives, or unless its release to the legal heirs would be inconsistent with such directives. In such cases, the death should not prevent its forfeiture or other treatment pursuant to occupation policy directives.


“12. It is recommended that:

  • a. The foregoing conclusions be approved by SWNCC;
  • b. After approval by SWNCC the State Department be requested to forward the substance of the paper to the US representative on the Far Eastern Commission for presentation to that Commission with a view to obtaining a policy decision on this matter;
  • c. Copies of the approved paper be forwarded to the War and Navy Departments for their information;
  • d. The Joint Chiefs of Staff be requested to transmit the substance of the Conclusions to SCAP for his information.”

  1. Maj. Gen. John H. Hilldring was also alternate U.S. member of the Far Eastern Commission and Chairman of the State–War–Navy Coordinating Committee.
  2. Sent to the U.S. member of the Far Eastern Commission, February 19 as SWNCC 347; it had been informally approved by SWNCC on February 13 for the Commission “as a basis for a Far Eastern Commission policy decision on the subject”; also sent as instruction 431, February 20, to Tokyo for the information of the Political Adviser. The Joint Chiefs of Staff sent the conclusions to SCAP in War 92073 on February 14.