Justice denied? : the trial of general Yamashita Tomoyuki

Benjamin Gowlett (2005). Justice denied? : the trial of general Yamashita Tomoyuki PhD Thesis, School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics, The University of Queensland.

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Author Benjamin Gowlett
Thesis Title Justice denied? : the trial of general Yamashita Tomoyuki
School, Centre or Institute School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2005
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor John Frederick Weik
Alan Rix
Joe Siracusa
Total pages 525
Collection year 2005
Language eng
Subjects L
430102 History - Asian
780199 Other
Formatted abstract

This thesis looks at the issue of whether the trial of General Yamashita Tomoyuki can be described as a denial of justice. By so doing, this thesis does not seek to impose some sort of moral judgment on the trial, nor does it hope to give undue attention to the matter of who may be responsible for any of the qualities exhibited in the trial. Instead, the thesis only intends to decide if the trial reflected adherence to the criteria deemed relevant to determine if the case of Yamashita was unjust.


The reasons for selecting this topic were twofold. First, a reassessment of this topic seemed timely. Indeed, this topic warranted review because the Yamashita case had last been seriously examined some twenty years ago. Also, since that last review new evidence pertaining to the Yamashita case has appeared, but has not yet been used to ascertain if this trial was unjust. In this vein, the most noteworthy materials are: notes of the war crimes trial conference convened by Major General of the United States Army, R. J. Marshall, on 14 September 1945; the draft opinion written by the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, Harlan Fiske Stone, that discusses the relevance of the United States Constitution to the Yamashita case; a pamphlet written by Yamashita expressing his views on Minobe Tatsukichi's "Organic Theory of State"; a previously secret military intelligence summary on the activities of the Imperial Japanese Army Colonel, Tsuji Masanobu; and a previously secret document prepared by the 4th Unit Sub-Committee of the Japanese War Ministry regarding the punishment of Chinese residents during the Singapore and Malaya campaign. Moreover, the case has remained significant because this trial has not only been an important reference point for the United States in its treatment of captured adversaries in the aftermath of the World Trade Centre attack (2001) (be they apprehended during the "war on terror" that has taken place in Afghanistan (2002) or Iraq (2003)); but also because this case has resonated in several ways during the course of many of the military trials that emerged in the wake of World War II. 


Second, certain elements of this topic are original and therefore contribute to our understanding of the scholarly disciplines to which the subject of this thesis relates - most notably legal history, jurisprudence and political science. One original aspect of this thesis is that it consults in a comprehensive way the record of the appeal made by Yamashita's defence team to the Supreme Court of the Philippines. Another new aspect of this thesis is that not only is extensive use made of numerous newspapers, trial-related documents and archival sources, but it also takes into account much of the literature that has been written about Yamashita in general, or his trial in particular. Yet another innovative aspect is that rather than assessing if the Yamashita case was unjust by reference to either the "legal" or "non-legal" school of thought, this thesis tackles the topic by way of an approach that uniquely combines the two latter concepts and is referred to as the "comprehensive approach" or "hybrid method."


The thesis posits that the trial of Yamashita was in fact a denial of justice. This conclusion is reached because the case reflected the application of one or more of the criteria enunciated by the comprehensive approach for assessing if a war crime trial was a denial of justice, namely: (1) The case was subject to interference by nonjudicial factors; (2) The principal charge for which the defendant was found guilty was invalid; (3) The procedures adopted in this case were inappropriate; (4) The assessment of crucial facts by the tribunal was in error; (5) The case reflected the application of the principle of inequality before the law; and (6) Since the trial's end, the case has continued to generate a flurry of debate about the core matters associated with the trial. Each of these issues is addressed and proven in respective chapters of the thesis (Chapters Four to Nine). However, so that these arguments may be fully appreciated. Chapters Two and Three provide introductory material, with special emphasis being placed upon the biographical details of Yamashita and the nature of the methodology respectively.

Keyword Yamashita, Tomoyuki, 1885-1946
War crime trials -- Philippines -- Manila
Japan -- History, Military -- 1868-1945

Document type: Thesis
Collection: UQ Theses (RHD) - UQ staff and students only
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Created: Fri, 24 Aug 2007, 18:47:36 EST