Volume #21 - 781.|
Memorandum from Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs|
to Secretary of State for External Affairs
March 17th, 1955|
CLEMENCY FOR MAJOR JAPANESE WAR CRIMINALS|
I am informed that Mr. Campney will be submitting the attached memorandum to Cabinet at its meeting tomorrow, March 18, 1955.
You will recall that last March, in discussing the Araki case, Cabinet expressed the hope that some formula would be unanimously agreed upon by the eight Governments entitled to the exercise of clemency under the Japanese Peace Treaty under which the early release of some of the major war criminals at present serving sentences in Japan could be effected; Cabinet indicated at the time, however, that Canada should not take the initiative in proposing such a formula. Last Fall the Japanese Government applied for the release of all the major war criminals and the United States has now proposed to the other Governments concerned that these men should be released on parole upon completion of ten years imprisonment, i.e. at the end of 1955 in all but one case.
The attached memorandum recommends basically that the United States proposal be accepted by Canada, provided that it is accepted by a majority of the governments concerned. It is based on the views of the Interdepartmental Clemency Review Committee on which this Department is represented.
Note du ministre de la Défense nationale pour le Cabinet
Memorandum from Minister of National Defence to Cabinet
Cabinet Document No. 59-55
CLEMENCY FOR JAPANESE WAR CRIMINALS
On 8 October, 1954, the Government of Japan requested amnesty at the earliest possible date for the following Japanese class "A" war criminals who are presently serving life sentences and who are now, with the exception of OKA and HATA who are medically paroled, confined in Sugamo Prison in Japan.
Alternatively, the Japanese Government requested that consideration be given to clemency for those war criminals who are over the age of 70.
2. At a recent meeting of representatives of the eight allied governments that had been represented on the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, namely, the United Kingdom, Netherlands, France, Australia, New Zealand, United States, Pakistan and Canada, the United States recommended that view of the governments concerned be sought on the acceptability of a general formula providing for release on parole of Japanese class "A" war criminals upon the completion of ten years imprisonment.
3. If the United States' proposal is accepted it will mean that all "A" class Japanese war criminals with the exception of SATO will be eligible for parole by the end of December 1955. SATO would be eligible in April 1956.
4. The United Kingdom is now considering the United States proposal. In the past the United Kingdom has opposed granting a "blanket" amnesty, preferring a formula which treats a life sentence as one of 21 years subject to one-third time off for good behaviour. Any request for clemency beyond this, the United Kingdom thinks, should depend on its merits.
5. The effect of the United Kingdom's approach would be that the majority of the "A" class Japanese war criminals would not be eligible for parole until the latter part of 1959.
6. The position of the other interested governments, with the exception of France, Pakistan and Australia, is one of approval of the United States proposal if a majority of the other governments also approve of it. France approves but attaches a condition of parole to be abstention from political activity. Pakistan favours immediate and unconditional release of all war criminals. Australia has not expressed a firm opinion.
7. In the past the Canadian Government has taken the position that it would not adopt a firm stand on the issue of early release of Japanese "A" class war criminals. Cabinet has expressed the hope that unanimity could be achieved on some formula as for example, that put forth at an earlier date by New Zealand which was essentially the same as the present United States proposal. See Cabinet Conclusion dated 25 March, 1954.
8. Although there are differences of opinion on this particular point, the view has been expressed that a general parole of Japanese class "A" war criminals would, to the Japanese people, be tantamount to admitting that they were wrongly imprisoned in the first instance. It has further been suggested that an amnesty of this nature would not inspire the Japanese to respect law and order and would put the governments concerned in the position of sacrificing principle for political expediency.
9. Also pertinent to the question of early release of Japanese "A" class war criminals is the question of minor Japanese war criminals. According to a recent Japanese survey there are still 706 minor war criminals being held. Of this number the United States hold two hundred and seventy-seven. At the last meeting of the representatives of the said eight governments it was agreed that recommendations should be made to the governments it was agreed that recommendations should be made to the governments it was agreed that recommendations should be made to the governments holding minor Japanese war criminals that expeditious action be taken on their release in order that they would not be penalized more heavily than "A" class war criminals. Canada did not try and consequently has never held any minor Japanese war criminals, nor has Canada had any responsibility, collective or otherwise for the administration of their sentences.
10. While the Clemency Review Committee considers that the position hitherto taken by the United Kingdom (see para 4), is most sound, in order to achieve unanimity among the governments concerned the Committee recommends that the Canadian Ambassador in Washington be instructed:
(a) to support the United States proposal that Japanese "A" class war criminals be released on parole upon completion of 10 years imprisonment, if a majority of the governments concerned support it; or alternatively
(b) to support any proposal for clemency to those "A" class war criminals who are over the age of seventy years; and in any event
(c) to support the French proposal that paroles granted be made subject to the condition that parolees abstain from political activities.