Re Notomi Sueo

Date04 Enero 1947
Docket NumberCase No. 96
CourtObsolete Court (Dutch East Indies)
Netherlands East Indies, Temporary Court Martial, Makassar.
Case No. 96
In re Notomi Sueo et Al.

Subjects of Laws of War — Responsibility of Commanders and their Subordinates — Treatment of Prisoners of War.

Prisoners of War — Treatment of — Responsibility of Japanese Commanders and their Subordinates — System of Maltreatment of Prisoners of War — Japan and the Geneva Convention of 1929 — Articles 29, 30 and 46 of the Convention.

The Facts.—From March 1944 to the capitulation of Japan in August 1945, Notomi Sueo was in charge of the kitchen responsible for the food supply of the prisoners of war camp at Makassar (Celebes). Yoshida and three other accused were camp warders from 1942 till 1945, and the sixth accused, Yamanaka, was their Commandant as from December 1944. The prisoners, of Netherlands, American, British and Australian nationality, comprised both naval and military personnel. Until June 1944 they were housed in brick-built barracks on dry ground. They were then transferred to bamboo huts which were situated in an originally swampy plain, and which were inadequately raised and drained, with an insufficient water supply and no facilities for any form of sport. This camp became a labour camp under the supervision of the Japanese Navy, but the responsibility for its administration fell upon the garrison commander of Makassar. The last man to hold the post was Captain Ishida, who committed suicide after the Japanese capitulation. In these surroundings the prisoners lived under a regime of systematic terror.

Held: that the accused were guilty, that four of them must be sentenced to death, and the other two to imprisonment for terms of twenty and ten years respectively.

The well-being of the prisoners depended to a large extent upon the chief camp guard, Yoshida, and the head of the kitchen, Notomi, who held the key positions in the camp. Functionaries of the Japanese Navy who were officially in charge interfered as little as possible with the manner in which the task was carried out, even when its execution was entrusted to their subordinates, partly from personal indolence, partly as a result of the Japanese system of assigning wide powers even to the lowest ranking officers. Very rarely would a Japanese criticize or attempt to mitigate, let alone alter, acts committed by another Japanese against a prisoner of war, their common foe. This peculiarity went far to explain how relations such as those in the Java camps were possible within the...

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