US executed Japanese for waterboarding

Posted: April 25, 2009 in civilisation?, society
Tags: , , ,

Not that any proof is needed that Bush, Cheney and the head honchos of the CIA and the US military are war criminals who amongst other things actively ordered torture. It is nevertheless an interesting side note to the history of the great American hypocrisy to read that Japanese soldiers were executed for waterboarding US POWs. It just demonstrates once again that America’s commitment to human rights and other international law is nothing but a sham. The following post comes from Crooks and Liars:

We made a mistake the other day when Paul Begala left Ari Fleischer dumbstruck by saying:
BEGALA: We — our country executed Japanese soldiers who water- boarded American POWs. We executed them for the same crime that we are now committing ourselves. How do you defend that?
We chided Begala slightly because we thought he wasn’t quite right on the facts:
Actually, Fleischer could have countered Begala by pointing out that we didn’t actually execute the Japanese soldiers convicted of the war crime of waterboarding American prisoners — we just sentenced them to 15 years’ hard labor.
But now, Begala makes clear he knew whereof he spoke:
But I was not referring to Asano, nor was my source Sen. Kennedy. Instead I was referencing the statement of a different member of the Senate: John McCain. On November 29, 2007, Sen. McCain, while campaigning in St. Petersburg, Florida, said, “Following World War II war crime trials were convened. The Japanese were tried and convicted and hung for war crimes committed against American POWs. Among those charges for which they were convicted was waterboarding.”
Sen. McCain was right and the National Review Online is wrong. Politifact, the St. Petersburg Times’ truth-testing project (which this week was awarded a Pulitzer Prize), scrutinized Sen. McCain’s statement and found it to be true. Here’s the money quote from Politifact:
“McCain is referencing the Tokyo Trials, officially known as the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. After World War II, an international coalition convened to prosecute Japanese soldiers charged with torture. At the top of the list of techniques was water-based interrogation, known variously then as ‘water cure,’ ‘water torture’ and ‘waterboarding,’ according to the charging documents. It simulates drowning.” Politifact went on to report, “A number of the Japanese soldiers convicted by American judges were hanged, while others received lengthy prison sentences or time in labor camps.”
The folks at Politifact interviewed R. John Pritchard, the author of The Tokyo War Crimes Trial: The Complete Transcripts of the Proceedings of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. They also interviewed Yuma Totani, history professor at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, and consulted the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law, which published a law review article entitled, “Drop by Drop: Forgetting the History of Water Torture in U.S. Courts.”
We apologize to Begala for the error.
We’ll be waiting a long time, I expect, for all those right-wingers out there who claim waterboarding isn’t torture to apologize to the world.
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  1. John Smith says:

    You don’t know what you’re talking about. First of all, the Japanese version of waterboarding was considerably different from what we did. But that’s beside the point. No Japanese soldiers were executed for waterboarding alone. Some of the Japanese soldiers who were executed were executed for brutalities above and beyond waterboarding. By the way, I’m not a right-winger, in fact I voted for Obama. I just hate seeing bad history passed around by ignoramuses for the purposes of propaganda.

  2. Ben Kenyon says:

    There was a case of ONE Japanese soldier, Yukio Asano, who was punished for waterboarding, among other things:

    Docket Date: 53/ May 1 – 28, 1947, Yokohama, Japan

    Charge: Violation of the Laws and Customs of War: 1. Did willfully and unlawfully mistreat and torture PWs. 2. Did unlawfully take and convert to his own use Red Cross packages and supplies intended for PWs.

    Specifications: beating using hands, fists, club; kicking; water torture; burning using cigarettes; strapping on a stretcher head downward.

    Asano beat people with clubs and burned them with cigarettes, obvious torture. He also waterboarded prisoners without aid of cellophane or a cloth.

    I’d be very careful about taking in and repackaging ANYTHING that ANY media outlet spews without first digging a little for your own. Our two-party system has become so cutthroat and personal. Researching something objectively may add some credibility to your blogging.


    Ben Kenyon
    Rader School of Business
    Milwaukee School of Engineering

  3. Ben Kenyon says:

    Oh and I also forgot, this soldier was not executed. Any Japanese soldiers charged with torture were sentenced to 15 years hard-labor. Ted Kennedy even admitted this. What’s more, Asano had plenty of other charges to legitamize the hard-labor sentence.

    • steve says:

      Ben you obviously did not read the above article and the linked sources because that is all addressed

  4. H. Rogers says:

    In the Japanese cases, American soldiers were tortured in many cases simply because they were American soldiers, not for any purposeful reason. And their “waterboarding” was very different from the drowning simulation used against Khalid, the terrorist who gave up valuable information that saved more American lives.

    Motive is an important consideration in the law. If you shoot someone, and that person dies, is that murder? Would your answer depend on the circumstances? What if you were simply driving by a street corner and shot someone sitting there waiting for a bus? On the other hand, what if someone broke into your home, and was beating one of your family members, and started coming at you with a gun or baseball bat. If you shot and killed that person, is that murder?

    The same events — shooting someone and killing them — have to be interpreted in context. In U.S. law, it is called “motive” — if the motive is self-defense, it is a reasonable defense. If the motive is to rob someone else, or revenge, it is murder. If the event occurred as the result of an accident, it could be manslaughter.

    If a form of waterboarding (simulating drowning) is applied to a known terrorist for the purpose of protecting American citizens from further attacks by a group about which the terrorist has information, can we consider the motive when determining whether or not it is a crime?

    Get personal: If you had a family member being held by a group of terrorists, and one of the terrorists was caught in a raid, and had information that would help locate and save the life of your family member, what would YOU be willing to do to get information? Most reasonable people would not treat the terrorist with respect. They would do whatever it took to save their family member.

    Or are you different? Oh well, you won’t do anything to scare or intimidate or frighten the terrorist, that’s more important than saving the life of a family member. Right?

  5. Jannelle says:

    “What would YOU be willing to do to get information? ”

    Anything legal. “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.”

    Am I bullshitting? No. When my sister was raped, even as held my sister’s hand as she shook when describing her attacker, neither her or I had any wish to torture the man. Did I feel like punching him in the face? Yes. I won’t lie, I wanted to. But I wouldn’t have, if given the chance. Just because he broke the law doesn’t give me any right to. I wanted him to go to prison for life (what he was sentence was no where near enough what he deserved), but I did not want to stoop to his level. My family brought him to justice the LEGAL way.

    Are you saying then, Rogers, that every police officer who interrogates a rapist/murderer/pedophile should have the right to beat them down after arrest?

    • Larry says:

      I’m sorry for your sister and you and your sister were right not to want the man tortured for a crime he had already comitted. And none of the prisoners at Guantanamo have been waterborded for a crime they have aready comitted, but crimes that haven’t happened yet, that they seem to have a good deal of information about. If you had gotten a hold of this rapest while his friend was holding your sister and planing to rape her and only he knew where and when would your view change.

  6. jnpope says:

    A few years ago, if you had done a search on waterboarding, you would have come up with an entirely different view of what it was in the past instead of this namby-pamby assumption that it was the same as we did in Guantanamo. On the contrary, it was more often that waterboarding was done in a manner that caused the stomach to fill until it was very distended. Then the victim’s stomach was stomped upon to squirt the water out. It was a much more “near death” experience than anyone at Guantanamo suffered. In fact, the victims frequently died. Death was almost certain when salt water was used.

    Another thing that people today refuse to recognize: that is, when Nations go to war, their forces often consist largely of conscripts – soldiers who don’t even want to be there, but may well love their homelands. For those men & women, the Geneva Convention was agreed upon by most Nations. Under that agreement, POWs are to be treated humanely, and all one is required to give the other is “Name, rank, and serial number”. Any form of coercion is prohibited. THIS APPLIED TO UNIFORMED ENEMY ONLY! An enemy combatant captured out of uniform was generally executed.

    Today the situation is entirely different: the enemy we face is a volunteer, does not wear a uniform, is not fighting for any recognized country, relishes in torturing and killing people – any and all people, from infants to old men & women. The terrorist does not adhere to the Geneva convention (in fact almost everything the terrorist does falls outside the limits of that convention). THe terrorist loves to kill and maim other people no matter who they are. The terrorist gives no mercy and should expect none.

    As a country, we do not believe that we should torture anyone, but there are circumstances where we are willing to become far from gentile – especially in instances where we know many lives are in jeopardy. Waterboarding as done at Guantanamo was definitely not pleasant. Nor was it a technique that we would have used against POWs of another country. But because of the “sick” nature of those 3 high level terrorists, and knowing that they had knowledge of terrorist attacks planned against our innocent civilian population, our government decided that harsh interrogation methods, including a controlled form of waterboarding, were necessary. Seems they were right! Along with some false leads, we also got the right valid leads to keep the American population free from attack for 8 years!

    So did we torture those 3 men? Not by any PAST definition of the term “waterboarding”, and the best legal minds in the country determined that the form of waterboarding we were using was NOT torture by any definition of such.

    So are you happy to be alive? Are you happy that your loved ones have been free to go shopping and take plane, train and bus trips hither & yon without fear of terrorist attacks, etc., or would you rather that the planned attacks had taken place and perhaps you or some of your loved ones had been victims of those attacks?

    I wouldn’t want to be waterboarded even in the most benign way: I recall how unpleasant it is to wake up at night after vomiting up a little phlegm and having it inhibit just one breath. But then again, I would in no way be a terrorist!

    THINK! Are you really concerned about the feelings of the “poor terrorist”? Or are you a terrorist at heart & just want to assure that you would never have to undergo any interrogation? Or do you just want to unjustly punish those who managed to keep you save since 2001?

    You decide.

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