Sunday, January 17, 2010

MacArthur on the Yamashita Case

"In reviewing this case I have carefully considered the minority views presented by distinguished Justices of the United States Supreme Court in negation not only as to jurisdiction but as to method and meritorious action as well..

"No trial could have been fairer than this one, no accused was ever given a more complete opportunity of defense, no judicial process was ever freer from prejudice. Insofar as was humanly possible the actual facts were fully presented to the commission. There were no artifices of technicality which might have precluded the introduction of full truth in favor of half truth, or caused the slanting of half truth to produce the effect of non truth, thereby warping and confusing the tribunal into an insecure verdict."

On the contrary, the trial was conducted in the unshaded light of truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Those who would oppose such honest method, can only be a minority, who either advocate arbitrariness of process above factual realism, or who inherently shrink from the stern rigidity of capital punishment. Strange jurisprudence it would be, which for whatever reason defeated the fundamental purpose of justice --to rectify wrong, to protect right and to produce order, safety and well being. No sophistry can confine justice to a form. It is a quality. Its purity lies in its purpose, not in its detail. The rules of war and the military law resulting as an essential corollary therefrom have always proven sufficiently flexible to accomplish justice within the strict limitations of morality."

"It is not easy for me to pass penal judgment upon a defeated adversary in a major military campaign. I have reviewed the proceedings in vain search for some mitigating circumstance on Yamashita's behalf. I can find none. Rarely has so cruel and wanton a record been spread to public gaze... The transgressions resulting therefrom as revealed by the trial are a blot upon the military profession, a stain upon civilization and constitute a memory of shame and dishonor that can never be forgotten. Peculiarly callous and purposeless was the sack of the ancient city of Manila, with its Christian population and its countless historical shrines and monuments of culture and civilization, which with campaign conditions reversed had previously been spared.

"It is appropriate here to recall that Yamashita was fully forewarned as to the personal consequences of such atrocities. On October 24--four days following the landing of our forces on Leyte--it was publicly proclaimed that I would 'hold the Japanese military authorities in the Philippines immediately liable for any harm which may result from failure to accord prisoners of war, civilian internees or civilian non-combatants the proper treatment and the protection to which they of right are entitled."

"No new or retroactive principles of law, either national or international, are involved. The case is founded upon basic fundamentals and practice as immutable and ae standardized as the most matured and irrefutable of social codes. The proceedings were guided by that primary rationale of all judicial purposes--to ascertain the fill truth unshackled by any artificiality or narrow method or technical arbitrariness. The results are beyond challenge."

"I approve the findings and sentence of the Commission".

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