Subscribe to the Journal:

 

If you would like to support the Journal, please do so here.  The Asia-Pacific Journal is available free to all. But your contribution allows us to improve and expand our service  in the wake of 3.11.

Donate - $25, $50, $100



Join Us:JapanFocus Twitter page  APJ Facebook Page  

Display Your BOOK, FILM, OR EVENT here

 Peace  Philosophy  Centre

Dialogue and learning for creating a peaceful, sustainable world.

 

Click a cover to order.
Click a cover to order.
Click a cover to order.
Click a cover to order.
Click a cover to order.
Click a cover to order.
Click a cover to order.
Click a cover to order.
Click a cover to order.
The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus
In-depth critical analysis of the forces shaping the Asia-Pacific...and the world.

Race and American Military Justice: Rape, Murder, and Execution in Occupied Japan

Terese Svoboda

 

“Why do you want the records of all these horrible criminals?” asks the clerk at the National Personnel Records Center.

I don’t believe they’re criminals. These GIs were all around twenty years old, from the lowest ranks. For most it was their first offense and many have ribbons from the most terrible battles in the Pacific. [1] J. Robert Lily, Michael Thomson and Alice Kaplan describe the scant preparation for the hasty trials of black servicemen in particular, where the defendants were so cowed by the court-martial process they didn’t even speak up for themselves. They also tell of the lack of due process, and of missing witnesses. [2] The Senate’s 1946 Committee on Military Affairs Report notes further flaws in the trials: “the officer senior in rank often uses his weight and influence to dominate without even a pretense of impartiality; that even when votes are taken in inverse order of rank, the junior officers are perfectly well aware whether they are voting in accordance with his wishes; that the votes are taken orally; that no record of the proceedings is given the person most concerned.” [3]

However, even my uncle said that the inmates he guarded, the ones I’m researching, were bad. He served as an MP in the Eighth Army stockade in Nakano the largest American military prison in Japan, from April to June 1946.


Exterior view of the Eighth Army stockade with its “x” design.
From the collection of Ted Millette.

Convicted U.S. soldiers from all over the Pacific were gathered there at the end of the war awaiting transport home. “The tough amongst the tough,” my uncle called them on the audio cassettes he left me just before he committed suicide in the wake of Abu Ghraib’s revelations. Maybe they were. But bad enough to be hung? My uncle said that his commanding officer, Captain Millar, called a meeting of all the MPs and announced that the facility had become overcrowded and that they were going to have to start executing. The captain then had a gallows built and decorated it with black bunting. “He took care of the problem,” said my uncle, and his tapes end there.


Interior view of Eighth Army Stockade. From the Correctional Library
of the Japanese Correctional Association.

By 1946 the Eighth Army in Japan reported that “racial agitation” between black and white troops was the primary cause of assault, the most frequent violent crime among the American troops stationed there. [4] Yet the official records indicate that no one on the stockade’s rolls was condemned to death. [5] Was my uncle’s suicide related to this discrepancy? I had to investigate.

Vincent M. is the best. “Your uncle’s name sounds familiar,” he says in a silky Sinatra voice, and it’s like a fairy tale to encounter someone who remembers so much. He’s practically the last MP on the morning report I order (along with the inmates) from the National Personnel Records Center who answers the phone number I find on Ancestry. com. My uncle’s unit reorganized and changed its name right after it was assigned to the stockade, and it held no reunions.


Eighth Army Stockade office. National Archives.

But Vincent remembers my uncle as “the guy who earned a black belt while he was there.” He also remembers two prisoners waiting for the gallows. He says one of those two “was a colored boy who was sleeping with a Japanese girl who decided to scream rape.” Then Leroy S. remembers that they did execute a prisoner and sent his body back to the States. Jack W. remembers too. And John J. says his bunk had a view of the gallows and that he could see when the rope went taut.

Holding my breath, I ask, “And did you ever see that rope go taut?” He says yes, just once. That colored boy. [6]

Only blacks were executed for rape in England during World War II, [7] and only blacks—six men—were hanged for rape by MacArthur in New Guinea at the end of the Pacific war. [8] “Nowhere in these postwar documents is there even the shadow of suspicion that segregation itself might have played a role in creating a racial disparity in sentencing,” writes Alice Kaplan in The Interpreter, a recent book about the difference in sentencing white and black soldiers accused of the same crime in the European theater. “No one, as yet, was willing to venture the obvious: it was patently absurd that 8.5 percent of the armed forces could be responsible for committing 79 percent of all capital crimes.” [9]


One of the prisoners in the Eighth Army stockade, spring 1946.
National Personnel Records Center.

Frank S., another ex-MP I had contacted earlier, sends me the phone number of his friend Marvin B. Marvin tells me they put two or three prisoners to death while he was an MP (1946-1949), maybe a couple of them from Guam. One of them could have been in for rape. “Black soldiers?” I ask. “I don’t remember much,” he says. “I was only seventeen. But there I was, sitting up on the tower the night one of the hangings took place. Everybody knew it was happening.” [10]


Window from the guard’s barracks in the Eighth Army Stockade.
Collection of Ted Millette.

Seventeen people are required to attend an execution. [11] Yet there are no records of any execution occurring at the Eighth Army stockade. [12]

A few days after talking to Marvin, I’m reviewing the Wikipedia file on the death penalty and scan a separate list for those executed postwar by the Air Force. [13] The soldier executed in 1950 seems to fit the description of the execution that William M, another ex-MP, remembers as happening in 1949. [14] There are also two soldiers who were officially executed in Guam that Marvin and William mentioned as having been executed at the Eighth Army stockade. [15] “I probably should not comment--Burns & his Dennis cousins were black and the murdered girl was white,” writes William. [16]

William can’t imagine why the places of execution are listed as Yokohama and Guam when he knows both happened at the stockade. I tell him I think it’s because they were court-martialed at Yokohama or Guam. Whoever was secretly executed at the 8th Army stockade in May 1946 (and for the next six years) must have been brought there from another U.S. base. The only two executions I found in the records were said to have occurred in the Philippines, not Japan. [17]

Researchers like to start with Plot E in France, with its nice neat rows of easily identified graves of those executed in Europe. Who would want to research the Pacific with some of the executed taken home by the next-of-kin, some buried and then reburied somewhere else? Besides, no one has ever tried to research the executions from the vets’ recollections rather than from the official papers. I might add that each of the vets who spoke to me told me about the hanging or hangings separately.

I read all the recorded court-martial proceedings available for the Pacific and the “Branch Office Cases” from 1945-1947 on microfilm. [18] No easy “find” button there. I am surprised by how often Judge Advocate General Thomas H. Green suggests commutation of the death sentence. However, the Committee on Military Affairs Report says that he can suggest commutation all he wants but the commanding general “not infrequently rejects or ignores it.” [19] The Supreme Commander was of course Douglas MacArthur. The MacArthur Memorial produces records of sentencing for that time period. No executions. [20] MacArthur’s subordinates, Gen. William Styer, for example, commander of AFWESPAC, and numerous division generals, left no papers regarding executions. Major General Charles Willoughby, intelligence chief during the occupation, was “a burner,” according to the MacArthur archivist. [21]

According to the National Law Journal in 1999, the U.S. has executed only 135 American soldiers since 1916. [22] According to the report from the 1946 Committee on Military Affairs, the military executed 141 in World War II alone, and mentions that “the full statistics of military justice during the war period have not been compiled due, it is said, to shortage of personnel.” [23] The 2000 Statistical Abstract of the United States shows 161 men executed between 1942 and 1962. [24] A list of 154 executed men was discovered shoved behind a desk in 2003 during a cleanup at the Pentagon. They were executed between 1942-1961, according to Richard Dieter, head of the Death Penalty Information Center. [25] How many of them are on either of the earlier lists are unknown—there is no access to those records. Many on the Pentagon list are noted with just a last name, some without a date of execution, none with a location.

At the National Archives, I read an order dated April 1946 from Lt. Gen. William Styer, Commanding General, U.S. Armed Forces, Western Pacific, to General MacArthur that states: “Overhead personnel will be reduced as nbr (number) prisoners is reduced however sufficient qualified pers incl technicians for accomplishing executions should be retained. No indication nbr future executions incl War Criminals will diminish.” This “incl” suggests that “technicians”—executioners—were kept on staff both for the Sugamo war criminals (Japanese) and for the Eighth Army stockade (Americans). [26]

In the Eighth Army stockade’s May 1946 report I find a “Certificate of destruction of classified documents, retained permanently; shows permanent records of Organization destroyed, unauthorized.” This suggests an internal coverup for that month. [27]

A request for a report of execution form dated 7 August 1946 from a Captain D.W. Dooley to 2nd Lt. Charles C. Rexroad in the Philippines is indicative of the rather casual handling of reports of executions in general. “If no files are available, it is requested that Lt. Rexroad fill in the form to the best of his ability from memory in cases where he has personal knowledge of the executions.” “Accomplished” is the reply of 28 August by D.K. Scruby, but no forms in triplicate are attached.[28]

Page 25 of the Provost Marshall’s “History of the Campaigns of the Pacific” talks of 24 executions taking place between 1942 and1947, but its footnote, number fifty-nine out of more than one hundred, is the only one that is not included in the back of the manuscript. [29]

An Index shows a letter from a Mr. Leon Guess “concerning the number of Negro soldiers executed as a result of courts-martial,” dated 7 July 1946, about the time it would take for news of a May execution to get back to the States. But the letter itself is the only one missing from the file, and, according to Ancestry.com, Leon Guess is dead. [30]

I discover that eighteen dishonorable discharges from the Pacific are buried in Clark Field Post in Manila, but none of them appear on my stockade list. [31] “And there are many, many Unknowns,” says the cemetery’s keeper when I call him. [32]

I start contacting family members of those prisoners with the worst sentences but then quit after reading : “There is ample reason to believe that the family of some of the deceased do not know how their loved ones died,” in Robert Lily’s “Dirty Details: Executing Soldiers in World War II”. [33]

None of the documents I review about the stockade ever even mention the gallows, either its use or its construction, which, according to my uncle and all the other vets who remember it, was so elaborate.

 

Bertrand Roehner, a French researcher who has examined all 9,684 of the SCAPINs (formal directives issued by MacArthur), Japanese and American newspapers during the Occupation period, and the Allied archives in New Zealand and England regarding violence in occupied Japan, (access his provisional article here) is not surprised that I have found no records of executions at the Eighth Army stockade. MacArthur censored newspapers, radio, old and new movies, lantern slides, theatrical scripts and performances, kabuki, bunraku, plays, music, songs, postage stamps and currency, books, magazines and journals, speeches, teaching courses, mail, phone and the telegraph. [34] Even Allied military reports were subject to self-censorship. [35] MacArthur also forbade any mention of even the existence of censorship in the press, [36] and exiled or fired Stars and Stripes editors as well as Time, Reuters, Saturday Evening Post and Christian Science Monitor correspondents who didn’t obey. [37] The result is that the U.S. archives have available much less information than those of any other Allied country.

What Roehner did find revealed that the Americans had trouble controlling their troops.


“Soldiers Guide to Japan.” Eighth Army Printing Plant, c. 1946.

General Eichelberger twice had to admonish his forces about their behavior in Japan, citing looting, rape and robbery. [38] In 1946 General Eisenhower ordered a report on troop behavior in 1946 of both Japan and the Philippines. (The National Archives in the U.S. have this report’s cover sheet, but not the report.) [39]

I ask Roehner about the number of rapes he found. Roehner doesn’t address this issue because, he reasons, rape is so under-reported in peacetime as well as war that the accuracy of the numbers is hard to determine. But he does mention that even as late as April, 1952 the New York Times reported that Japan’s most prominent woman leader begged General Ridgway’s daughter to isolate the immoral US troops. [40]

Yuki Tanaka does provide figures for rape, gleaned primarily from Japanese sources. According to Japan’s Comfort Women: Sexual Slavery and Prostitution During World War II and the US Occupation, incidents of rape in Japan were particularly egregious during the spring of 1946. In January MacArthur had discovered that one in four GIs had VD [41] and was forced by March to completely reverse his stance on “butterflying” and legalize prostitution and fraternization in an attempt to control both rape and VD. [42] His decree backfired. In Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of WWII, John Dower says that “the number of rapes and assaults on Japanese women were around 40 per day while U.S./Japanese sponsored brothels were in operation, and then rose to an average of 330 a day after they were terminated in early 1946.” [43] Those were the reported rapes. Two incidents of mass rape from that time were so outrageous they were also reported: on April 4, fifty GIs broke into a hospital in Omori prefecture and raped 77 women, including a woman who had just given birth, killing the two-day-old baby by tossing it onto the floor. And on April 11, forty US soldiers cut off the phone lines of one of Nagoya’s city blocks and entered a number of houses simultaneously, “raping many girls and women between the ages of 10 and 55 years.” [44] By May 1946 MacArthur was facing a plague of rape.

May was the last full month my uncle served at the stockade.

I had wondered why I’d seen at most thirty court-martials for rape between 1945-1947 when John Dower reported 330 a month after MacArthur’s crackdown on prostitution. Were these court-martials censored or disappeared? Why were so few prosecuted? Roehner doesn’t know the answer. Even the three court-martials my uncle was involved in, including one in which he accidentally shot a prisoner (perhaps to death), could not be found. I should have thought a shooting would warrant a hearing. “It happened all the time,” said Larry S., another ex-MP. [45]

Even in 1946, the Committee on Military Affairs complained that it was hard to get information about the violence and its repercussions. “The most tragic [of excessive sentences] of course, are the death sentences not commuted, about which it is so difficult to obtain information. Many of these have been for rape, especially abroad.” [46]

Armies can make mistakes. Innocent soldiers can be killed or at the very least, their paperwork lost. But the only time I ever found anyone’s execution papers they were marked “Secret.” These records should be transparent, easy to discover and above all, truthful. Suspicion rears its ugly head if they are not.


Outside of the cells in the Eighth Army Stockade.
Based on the Quaker model where inmates had no contact.
From the Correctional Library of the Japanese Correctional Association.

None of this finding a list stuffed behind a file cabinet in the Pentagon. There’s the stench of lynching with so many black soldiers unaccounted for, a convenient execution of a black man for rape at a time when MacArthur needed an example. When President Truman ordered military integration in 1948, establishing the principle of equality “without regard to race, color, religion or national origin,” the Supreme Commander refused to comply. [47] MacArthur certainly wouldn’t have cared about the effect of his actions on veteran MPs like my uncle. As Chief of Staff of the Army at the height of the Depression, he had his men draw swords and teargas 20,000 starving World War I vets who were demonstrating for a bonus Congress had already promised them. [48]

Now I’m wondering if there weren’t some soldiers executed in Europe who didn’t make it into Plot E in France.

 

This article, prepared for Japan Focus, draws on and develops material from Black Glasses Like Clark Kent, Graywolf Press, 2008. Posted at Japan Focus on May 4, 2008.

Terese Svoboda is the author of ten books of prose and poetry, most recently the memoir Black Glasses Like Clark Kent: A GIs Secret from Postwar Japan, winner of the 2007 Graywolf Nonfiction Prize. Its website is http://blackglasseslikeclarkkent.com/. Her second novel, A Drink Called Paradise, concerns the effects of US atomic tests in the Pacific islands.

 

Notes

[1] all around twenty years old. I gleaned this information by reviewing the general court-martials in United States. Office of the JAG. Holdings, Opinions, and Reviews: v.1-81 + 2 index volumes. GPO, 1924 – 1949 and 1944 – 1949. Office of the Judge Advocate General. Judge Advocate General’s Department Board of Review, Holdings, and Opinions Board of Review, Branch Office of the Judge Advocate General, Southwestern Pacific Theater of Operations. Coverage: 1942-1946; Vol. 1-7; and Holdings, Opinions and Reviews, and Holdings, Opinions and Reviews, Board of Review, Branch Office of the Judge Advocate General, Pacific Ocean Theater of Operations. Coverage: 1944-1945. Vol. 1. microfilm. Also by reviewing the military records on Ancestry.com by names of the convicted GI that appear on “Return of General Prisoners” A1-149; 8th Army Stockade 1946; General Correspondence, 1946-1951; Provost Marshal Section, Far East Command, Department of Defense, Record Group 554; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD. Also by reviewing personnel records from the National Archives and Records Administration. Courtesy of National Personnel Records Center, St. Louis, Missouri. 44 out of 50 requests filled.

[2] Alice Kaplan, Robert Lilly and J. Michael Thomson… J. Robert Lilly and J. Michael Thomson. “Executing U.S. Soldiers in England, WWII: The Power of Command Influence and Sexual Racism.” Draft. 1995. 16 and Alice Kaplan. The Interpreter. New York: Free Press/Simon and Schuster, 2005. 168-170.

[3] “the officer senior in rank often uses his weight…”: United States. House of Representatives Committee on Military Affairs. Investigations of the National War Effort, Report of the Committee of Military Affairs, House of Representatives, 79th Congress, Second Session, Pursuant to H. Res. 20: A Resolution Authorizing the Committee on Military Affairs to Study the Progress of the National War Effort, June 1946. GPO, 1946. 17.

[4] “Racial agitation”:Morris J. MacGregor, Jr. “Segregation’s Consequences.” Defense Studies Series: Integration of the Armed Forces 1940 – 1965. 1979. 2 May 2001. 15 Oct 2007. Access here.

[5] Yet the official records indicate that no one…“Return of General Prisoners” A1-149; 8th Army Stockade 1946; General Correspondence, 1946-1951; Provost Marshal Section, Far East Command, Department of Defense, Record Group 554; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD.

[6] “Your uncle’s name sounds familiar…”:Vincent M., Jack W., Leroy S., and John J. Telephone interviews. 13 Apr 2007.

[7] Only blacks were executed for rape in England…. J. Robert Lilly. “Dirty Details: Executing U.S. Soldiers During WWII. Diss. Northern Kentucky University, 1995. 6.

[8] only blacks—six men—were hanged for rape…”: Walter Luszki. A Rape of Justice. Toronto: Madison Press Books, 1991.

[9] “Nowhere in these postwar documents…”: Alice Kaplan. 156.

[10] Everybody knew it was happening: Marvin B. 3. Interview with author. 4 July 2006.

[11] Seventeen people are required to attend an execution: Report of Executions; Entry 156 (A1); 7 Aug 1946. Records of Far East Command SCAP and UN Command 1945-57; Provost Marshal Section; Record Group 554; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD.

[12] No records of any execution: General Court Martial Offense Ledger Sheets, Vol. 23-28; Records of the Adjutant General’s Office; Judge Advocate General, 1946; Record Group 153; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD.

[13] Wikipedia file on the death penalty: “List of Those Executed by the United States Military.” Wikipedia. 12 Oct 2007. Access here.

[14] The soldier executed in 1950: William M. “Re: Names.” Email to author. 21 July 2007.

[15] There are also two soldiers officially executed: Marvin M. Telephone interview. 14 April 2007.

[16] Burns and Dennis: William M. “Re: Names. Email to author. 21 July 2007.

[17] The only two executions: Cross-referencing United States. Office of the JAG. Holdings, Opinions, and Reviews: v.1-81 + 2 index volumes. GPO, 1924 – 1949 and 1944 – 1949. Office of the Judge Advocate General. Judge Advocate General’s Department Board of Review, Holdings, and Opinions Board of Review, Branch Office of the Judge Advocate General, Southwestern Pacific Theater of Operations. Coverage: 1942-1946; Vol. 1-7; and Holdings, Opinions and Reviews, and Holdings, Opinions and Reviews, Board of Review, Branch Office of the Judge Advocate General, Pacific Ocean Theater of Operations. Coverage: 1944-1945. Vol. 1. microfilm with Execution of General Prisoner. Manila Provost Marshal Command 1 Dec 47. Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers. Legal Section. Manila Branch. (1945 - 11/1949); Records of Allied Operational and Occupation Headquarters, World War II, 1907 – 1966; Record Group 331; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD.

[18] I read all the recorded court-martial proceedings: United States. Office of the JAG. Holdings, Opinions, and Reviews: v.1-81 + 2 index volumes. GPO, 1924 – 1949 and 1944 – 1949. Office of the Judge Advocate General. Judge Advocate General’s Department Board of Review, Holdings, and Opinions Board of Review, Branch Office of the Judge Advocate General, Southwestern Pacific Theater of Operations. Coverage: 1942-1946; Vol. 1-7; and Holdings, Opinions and Reviews, and Holdings, Opinions and Reviews, Board of Review, Branch Office of the Judge Advocate General, Pacific Ocean Theater of Operations. Coverage: 1944-1945. Vol. 1. microfilm.

[19] “…not infrequently rejects or ignores it”: United States. House of Representatives Committee on Military Affairs.33.

[20] only records for sentencing:James Zobel, director of MacArthur Memorial. Telephone interview. 31 Mar 2006.

[21] a burner: James Zobel, director of MacArthur Memorial. Telephone interview. 31 Mar 2006.

[22] According to the National Law Journal: “Closing Ranks on Executions, Military Nears First Death Penalty Since JFK; Policy Assailed.” National Law Journal. 5 Apr 1999. A1.

[23] The military executed 141: United States. House of Representatives Committee on Military Affairs. 6.

[24] 160 men executed between 1942 and 1962: United States. Statistical Abstracts of the United States: No. 375. GPO, 2000. 25.

[25] A list of 154 executed men: “Executions in the Military.” Chart. Death Penalty Information Center. 17 Sep 2007. Access here. Also cited in J. Robert Lilly. “Death Penalty Cases in WWII Military Courts: Lessons Learned from North Africa and Italy.” ts. 41st Annual Meeting of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. Las Vegas, Nevada. 10-13 Mar 2004. 34.

[26] I read an order from Lt. General William Styer: Requisitions; File 371.2-413.44; Commanding General, U.S. Armed Forces, Western Pacific to the Commander in Chief Armed Forces Pacific, 10 April 1946; Provost Marshal General Correspondence 1946-1947. Record Group 554; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD.

[27] In the Eighth Army stockade’s May report: Processing Work Sheet; 483rd Military Police Escort Guard Company; Records of Allied Operational and Occupation Headquarters, World War II, 1907 -1966; Record Group 331; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD.

[28] A request for a report of execution: Report of Execution Form; “To HQ, General Prisoner Branch AFWESPAC Stockade” 7 August 1946. From Chief Provost Marshall, General Headquarters, US Army Forces, Pacific to General Prisoner Branch AFWESPAC Stockade; Records of General Headquarters; Provost Marshal Section, General Correspondence 1946-47; Record Group 389; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD.

[29] Page 25 of the Provost Marshal’s: Military Prisoners; Chapter VII; The Provost Marshal’s History Campaigns of the Pacific 1941-1947; Provost Marshal’s History Campaigns of the Pacific 1941-1947; Military Police Division Correspondence 1942-1947; Doctrine and Enforcement; Record Group 389; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD.

[30] An index shows a letter: Racial Incident; File 291.2; Cross Reference Index to the Series Central Decimal Correspondence Files, 1940-1945,' 1940-1945 and Central Decimal Correspondence Files, 1940 – 1945; War Department. The Adjutant General's Office. Record Group 407; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD.

[31] eighteen dishonorable discharges: List of Decedents PHILCOM Determined to be in “Dishonorable” Status, whose Cases are Being Processed and on when Disinterment Directives will be Issued at a Later Date; File 314.6; Correspondence Misc. File 1939-1954; Office of the Quartermaster General; Record Group 92; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD.

[32] the cemetery’s keeper: Larry Heilhecker. “Re: Clark Cemetery.” Email to author. 24 May 2007.

[33] how their loved ones died:J. Robert Lilly. “Dirty Details: Executing U.S. Soldiers During WWII. Diss. Northern Kentucky University, 1995. 3.

[34] MacArthur censored newspapers:Bertrand M. Roehner. Relations Between Allied Forces and The Population of Japan 15 August 1945-31 December 1960. Paris: University of Paris, 2007.15.

[35] Even the Allied military reports were subject to: Bertrand M. Roehner. 17.

[36] forbade mention of censorship: Bertrand M. Roehner. 28.

[37] exiled or fired: Bertrand M. Roehner. 45-46.

[38] General Eichelberger twice: MacArthur, Douglas. Letter to All Unit Commanders. 22 June 1946. Entry A-1 135; File 250.1; Occupation Files 1945-1950; General Correspondence; Department of Defense. Far East Command. Eighth Army. Provost Marshal Section. Record Group 338; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD. It begins “Since publishing my letter to you of 10 June regarding the behavior of our troops, I have received an increasing number of reports of crimes committed by Americans.” -- Letter to Commanding General, Eighth Army. 8 Nov 1946. Entry A-1 135; File 250.1; Occupation Files 1945-1950; General Correspondence; Department of Defense. Far East Command. Eighth Army. Provost Marshal Section; Record Group 338; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD. MacArthur complains in the letter that less than 50% of the reported rapes, assaults and robberies were investigated and only one-third of the burglaries. This is after receiving another letter from the Commanding General reporting alleged misconduct of occupational troops against Japanese Nationals for the month of September, 1946.

[39] The National Archives houses the cover sheet: Bertrand M. Roehner. 72.

[40] even as late as April, 1952: Bertrand M. Roehner. 105.

[41] one in four GIs had come down with VD:Yuki Tanaka. Japan’s Comfort Women: Sexual Slavery and Prostitution During World War II and the US Occupation, Routledge, 2001. 161.

[42] forced to completely reverse his stance: Yuki Tanaka. 162.

[43] “the number of rapes…”: John Dower. Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II. W.W. Norton, 2000. 579, fn 16.

[44] Two incidents of mass rape: Yuki Tanaka. 163-164.

[45] “It happened all the time…”: Larry S. Telephone interview. 13 Apr 2007.

[46] “The most tragic…”: United States. House of Representatives Committee on Military Affairs. 43.

[47] When President Truman: Eiji Takemae. Inside GHQ. Continuum International Publishing Group: 2002. 130.

[48] MacArthur certainly wouldn’t have cared: Linda Wheeler. “Routing a Ragtag Army.” Washington Post, April 12, 1999. A1.

 

We welcome your comments on this and all other articles. Please consider subscribing to our RSS feed, or following us via Twitter or Facebook.

Comments
Rich Greene
02/03/2011
I've been doing some research myself and found some interesting information, My deceased 95 yr old neighbor told me as an MP, he had to guard access to gallows erected at Oro Bay, New Guinea during WWII. He said they executed about 17 americans that day. FWIW: Executions in the Pacific were performed by a MSG Woods who was the official Army hangman. He died on Johnson Atoll while checking out an electric chair. He's buried in San Antonio, TX in an unmarked grave. Executions in europe were performed by Pierpoint. He came from a family of Royal Hangmen. This is all online. I would love to know how you accessed those documents you reference. One black American was sentenced to death after a one day trial. And yes, more blacks were executed than whites. The cemetary in France you reference is listed under the American Battle Monument website. I can't recall the name, but the executed were consolidated and buried in a plot not easily accessable behind the care taker's quarters. The graves are marked only by a black marker with white numbers that correspond to a list. They are officially called the "Dishonored Dead" and are buried in an unconventional position. Please send me info on your research and how to get to it. Thanks
Pat Garland
04/30/2011
Rich Greene: You have some facts twisted.MSG Woods may have performed in the Pacific but he was most active in Europe (France and Germany).Many of the executions in the Pacific Theater of Operations were conducted by Lieutenant Rexroad, A Military Police Officer.Pierpoint executed Americans in England, mainly at the Shepton-Mallet Prison, in Somerset. MSG Woods did die of electrical shock but not while working on an electric chair. He was working at a quarry at night on outdoor lighting when another soldier, who couldn't see him, turned on the switch to the wires Wood was working on. Also Wood was buried with military honors at a non military cemetery in Ka nsas. He was entitled to burial in a National Cemetery but his widow chose to have him buried at home. Visit the website regarding US military men executed in Shepton-Mallet and you will read Pierpoint executed 18 GIs, Ten were black, five were white and three were latinos. Nine were charged with murder, six with rape only, and three with rape and murder.
Add comment
Authors: For all articles by the author, click on author's name.   Terese Svoboda