180 Department of External Affairs to Mansfield

Cablegram 123 CANBERRA, 9 April 1946


Your 143. [1] Indictment of Emperor.

As previously advised to you, if you are satisfied that there is a case, it is left entirely to you to act upon your considered view.

At same time you should avoid any public protest if decision is against indictment or if MacArthur vetoes proposal. [2] You are familiar with the facts and it has always been our view that if the facts warranted indictment, Hirohito is no more entitled to special immunity than the common soldiers who inflicted such cruel barbarities against Allied soldiers and civilians. [3]

1 Document 172.

2 Cablegram 151 of 9 April noted that the list of defendants at the trial had been finally settled at a meeting of prosecutors, and the Emperor excluded. Australia's was the only affirmative vote.

3 The indictment against 28 major Japanese war criminals (two names being added at the last at the request of the Soviet Union) was filed on 29 April and the court opened on 3 May, almost immediately adjourning until 3 June. The indictment contained some 55 separate counts divided into three groups; 'crimes against peace'; murder and conspiracy to commit murder; 'conventional war crimes' and 'crimes against humanity'. The Tribunal handed down its judgement between 4 and 12 November 1948. All were found guilty. Two of the accused died during the trial and Okawa was declared unfit to stand. Sixteen of the accused were sentenced to life imprisonment, Togo to twenty years and Shigemitsu to seven.

MacArthur reviewed the sentences but all were left standing: the seven prisoners condemned to death were hanged on 23 December 1948.

[AA:A1067, UN46/WC/1]