Volume #25 - 470.|
CRIMINELS DE GUERRE
Note du secrétaire d'État aux Affaires extérieures|
pour le Cabinet
Cabinet Document No. 45-58|
le 11 février 1958|
JAPANESE MAJOR WAR CRIMINALS|
The Japanese Government has asked that the paroles of the ten surviving Japanese major war criminals, convicted by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, after the Second World War, be terminated. The United States State Department has proposed that the Japanese request be met by reducing the sentences of these war criminals to the time already served, and has proposed that a meeting be held in Washington at which the views of the governments concerned (Australia, Canada, France, Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, United Kingdom and United States) would be ascertained. This meeting is expected to be called before the end of February.
2. A background paper on the Japanese major war criminals is attached as Appendix "A".
3. Apart from questions of procedure, the issue now to be faced is whether further clemency should be granted to the ten surviving war criminals who, although they have all been released on parole, are under life sentences. The Government of Canada could decide:
4. Factors to be considered include the following:
5. The balance of advantage appears to lie in ensuring that the nine governments exercising the right to reduce sentences under the Japanese Peace Treaty should move together and should move reasonably expeditiously. It is therefore recommended that the Canadian representative at the meeting of representatives of the nine governments concerned be authorized to vote in favour of reducing the sentences of the surviving Japanese major war criminals to the time already served, provided he is satisfied that a majority of representatives will be voting in favour of reduction.80
Sidney SmithAppendice A
BACKGROUND PAPER ON JAPANESE MAJOR WAR CRIMINALS
At the conclusion of the Pacific war Japanese suspected of war crimes were classified into two broad groups: (a) major war criminals, Class "A", in whom there was international interest and whose crimes were of a general nature, and (b) minor war criminals, Classes "B" and "C", who were suspected of particular criminal acts. The latter were tried by the military courts of the individual nations concerned. No class "B" or "C" war criminals were tried by Canada, although some were tried by United States and United Kingdom Military Courts in connection with charges involving Canadians, and with the cooperation of the Canadian Government. Class "A" war criminals were tried by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, which was set up by the Allied Powers under proclamation by the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers in Japan, General MacArthur. The tribunal was set up pursuant to the Cairo Declaration of December 1, 1943, the Potsdam Declaration of July 26, 1945, the Instrument of Surrender of September 2, 1945, and the Moscow Conference of December 26, 1945. Its purpose, as stated by the Potsdam Declaration, was to mete out "stern justice" to all war criminals. The Charter, proclaimed on January 19, 1946, stated the tribunal's powers to be "to try and punish Far Eastern war criminals who as individuals or as members of organizations are charged with offences which include Crimes against Peace." Canada was among the participating nations, which also included the United States, China, the United Kingdom, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Australia, France, the Netherlands, New Zealand, India and the Philippines. A number of those tried were executed; others were given sentences of imprisonment.
2. By interpretation of the San Francisco Peace Treaty of 195182 the right to grant parole and to review or reduce the sentences of class "A" War Criminals was vested in those member nations of the International Military Tribunal who had signed and ratified the Treaty. The nations included were Australia, Canada, France, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan (as successor to British India), the United Kingdom and the United States. In the years after the Treaty came into force, and after the interpretation of the provisions relating to the power to grant clemency to War Criminals had been agreed upon, the Japanese frequently requested the release on parole of the remaining Major War Criminals. The cases were examined individually, beginning with those in which the requests were based on medical grounds or grounds of extreme age. At the present time all of the ten surviving Class "A" War Criminals are free on parole, but are serving life sentences. Since the deliberations which led to these paroles, the Philippines has ratified the Treaty to which it was already a signatory. It is likely that in further deliberations on this matter the Philippines Government will be invited to participate and will wish to do so.
3. When considering the Canadian approach to the question of paroles it had been decided by Cabinet on August 10, 1953, to set up an Interdepartmental Clemency Review Committee, on which were represented the Departments of National Defence, Justice and External Affairs. As a result of the Committee's report to Cabinet, the Canadian representative at meetings of the eight nations concerned with the parole question was instructed by Cabinet on August 16, 1955, (a) to support the United States proposal that Japanese Class "A" War Criminals be released individually as each completed ten year's imprisonment, if a majority of the governments concerned supported it, (b) to support, but not initiate, any proposal that releases be unconditional, but if no such proposal was made or if a majority favoured release on parole, to support such latter proposal, and (c) that, if possible, abstention from political activity should not be made a condition of release on parole.82[ The meeting agreed to consider the major war criminals eligible for parole after ten years' imprisonment, and to consider the cases individually as they arose. It was pursuant to this arrangement that the ten survivors were paroled. No elaboration of the term "parole" was attempted, and, as the Embassy in Washington reported on September 7, 1955, "in practical terms it would probably be synonymous with outright release."83 However, the Japanese maintain that, although it imposes no explicit restrictions upon the prisoners, parole casts an undesirable stigma over them.
80Approuvé par le Cabinet le 18 février 1958./Approved by Cabinet on February 18, 1958.
81Voir volume 17, les documents 950 à 968./See Volume 17, Documents 950-968.
82Voir/See Volume 21, Document 783.
83Voir/See Volume 21, Document 785.