Prosecution in Military Courts Established by Other States

Six other Allied states—Australia, China, France, the Netherlands, the Philippines, and the United Kingdom—also held their own unilateral ad hoc military tribunals.133 In total, between 1945 and 1951, 2200 ad hoc Allied military tribunals tried approximately 5700 Classes B and C war criminals, convicting 4400 of them.134 Of the remaining suspects, 1018 were acquitted and 279 were either never tried or not sentenced.135 Approximately 75 percent of all of these defendants were charged with offenses against POWs.136 These trials were not wholly disconnected from the IMTFE; in fact, some of the records of the unilateral ad hoc military trials were used in the proceedings of the IMTFE.137

The unilateral proceedings conducted by the Soviet Union are particularly noteworthy given how many were mostly show trials. The Soviet Union conducted these trials summarily, after which the Soviet government probably executed as many as 3000 Japanese.138 These trials were propaganda tools. As former U.S. Army attorney and legal academic Robert Barr Smith recounts:

The Russian trials were mostly pulpits for propaganda attacks on the West. The “imperialist policy” of their erstwhile allies, said the Russians, had led them to abandon “the struggle against war criminals.” The Russians never tired of harping on Western decisions not to try the “greedy capitalists,” the zaibatsu of Japanese industry . . . . [The] Communist media let the world know that “Japan and its American allies” were plotting to use . . . hideous [biological] weapons against Russia . . . . The West had “unleashed the most inhuman carnage in history, warfare with the assistance of microbes, fleas, lice and spiders . . . .”139

Unilateral prosecution through ad hoc Allied military tribunals thus served not only to supplement the IMTFE’s proceedings but also to foreshadow—and even, because of Soviet propaganda, to foment—the coming Cold War.

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