Testimony of Aurea Gonzales on Japanese Atrocities Committed in Tanauan, Batangas in 1945 - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore Testimony of Aurea Gonzales on Japanese Atrocities Committed in Tanauan, Batangas in 1945 - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

Testimony of Aurea Gonzales on Japanese Atrocities Committed in Tanauan, Batangas in 1945

Apart from trying the top brass of the Japanese Imperial Army for war crimes committed in the Philippines, with special interest on those in Batangas, the US Military Commission also tried officers for an assortment of charges. This particular documentation is from the transcription of the trial United States of America v Mikio Taneichi, Yuzo Sakata, Taichi Yamada, and Bunji Kanto. The pages contained herein are now declassified and were part of compiled documentation1 of war crimes trials conducted by the United States Military Commission after the conclusion of World War II. This transcription has been corrected for grammar where necessary by Batangas History, Culture and Folklore. The pagination is as it was contained in the original document for citation purposes.

[p. 36]


a witness for the Prosecution, being first duly sworn, testified as follows through Interpreters Rodas, Javier, and Campomanes:



Q Your name is Mrs. Area [Aurea] Gonzales, is that correct?
A Yes, sir.
Q Where do you live?
A In the town of Tanauan.
Q How old are you?
A Thirty-eight years.
Q What is your occupation?
A I am a housekeeper.
Q How long have you lived in Tanauan?
A I was born in Tanauan and lived there all my life.

COLONEL WORTMAN: Will the prosecution furnish the Commission information as to the Specifications which this witness’ testimony will support.

LIEUTENANT PHARR: In support of Specifications 1 and 2, sir.

Q Were you in Tanauan on the 10th of February of 1945?
A Yes, sir.
Q Did you suffer any mistreatment on that date?
A Yes, sir.
Q How were you mistreated?
A As soon as the people came, we were asked if we had men in the house and I answered [to] them that we had none.
Q Then what happened?

[p. 37]

A They went up my house and lifted the mosquito net of my children. They were all Japanese.
Q Were these Japanese soldiers?
A Yes, sir, soldiers.
Q Are you a Filipina?
A Yes, sir.
Q And then what happened?
A When they arrived, I was about to cook breakfast. It was about six o’clock in the morning. When they lifted the mosquito net of my children, I grabbed this small one. This was the youngest of the five children I had. (Witness sobs.) They took my four children —

COLONEL WORTMAN: The Commission will recess for five minutes.

CAPTAIN GREER: May it please the Commission, before you recess, Sir, the defense would like to stipulate that any testimony that this witness may have isn’t going to change the facts of the case one way or the other. She has given us a short statement, and that is alright. (To the prosecution) If you prefer to continue — if you have anything that is outside of that —

LIEUTENANT PHARR: It is agreeable to the prosecution to stipulate the remaining part of the testimony as it appears in the statement which the defense has at this time.

CAPTAIN GREER: At this point, may it please the Commission, the defense would like to ask that an explanation be made connecting the testimony of the first three witnesses with the first two Specifications. We can’t see any

[p. 38]

proof has been offered that Lieutenant Taneichi was there in command of troops or that any of his troops actually participated. All we have heard so far is that certain acts were committed by [the] Japanese. It is not our purpose to delay the case in any way, but for explanatory reasons, we would like to see a correlation between the testimony that has been offered and the Specifications as set out.

COLONEL WORTMAN: Does the prosecution have any further comment?

LIEUTENANT PARR: I would be glad to answer the question of the defense in that connection. Specification 1 alleges the killing of two people – and 824 other unarmed, non-combatant Filipino and Chinese civilians, by the accused, Taneichi, or members of the Japanese forces under his control

Specification 2 alleges the attempted killing of several civilians.

The purpose of these first four witnesses is to simply prove a corpus delicti. Naturally, we expect to connect the accused up with these killings, otherwise we would not be proving the killings themselves. If we fail to do that, we recognize that we have no case.

COLONEL WORTMAN: Any further comment by the defense?

CAPTAIN GREER: If you are going to prove that any other individuals other than the 826 were killed — or the 824 as are set out in the Specifications — that would be alright, but we have stipulated as to the fact that 826 died during that period, or words to that effect.

[p. 39]

LIEUTENANT PHARR: This is the last witness that prosecution anticipates calling as to the death of the 824 people, other than one other witness, which we expect to testify on some other points. But the primary purpose — in fact, the only purpose — of these four witnesses is to prove the deaths of the 824 people. We dislike very much to try a case by affidavits or by stipulations alone. We prefer to put eye witnesses’ testimonies into the record.

COLONEL WORTMAN: Does the defense offer his comments as an objection to the line of questioning of the prosecution?

CAPTAIN GREER: The objection is general to the line of questioning of this witness and to the other witnesses after the stipulations have been made. It seems that we are getting nothing more than a re-emphasis of the stipulations which may go toward the proving of the prima facie case, but has very little to do with the specifications under which Lieutenant Taneichi is charged.

COLONEL WORTMAN: In view of the objection by the defense, a ruling is requested from the Law Member.

COLONEL HAMBY: Objection overruled.

COLONEL WORTMAN: You may proceed. It is the feeling of the Commission that it would like to hear the testimony of the witness now on the witness stand. She will continue her testimony after a ten-minute intermission by the Commission.

(Short recess.)

COLONEL WORTMAN: The Commission is in session.

LIEUTENANT PHARR: Sir, all members of the Commission are present, the accused and their defense counsel are present, the prosecution is present, and we are ready to proceed.

COLONEL WORTMAN: You may proceed.

Will the prosecution remind the witness she is still under oath?

[p. 39]

LIEUTENANT PHARR: I remind you that you are still under oath.

Does the reporter have the last question and answer?

Reporter read the last question and answer.)

Let the record show that the witness is here with her small child.



Q After you grabbed your five children, what was the next thing that happened?
A I was threatened and the Japanese said I would be killed, and then I saw that my children were taken to the dugout. One of the children kneeled and I saw with my own eyes hacked at the nape of the neck.
Q Did you see who it was that hacked one of the children?
A If I will see him now, I can recognize him, but I really don’t know him, because I never mixed with the Japanese in Tanauan.
Q Did the child die as a result of the wounds which he received at that time?
A No, sir, he did not die, but he received many wounds on the head and on the arms.
Q How old was he at that time?
A About eleven years.
Q And what happened to you?
A And the father of that child was taken by the Japanese. He was tied.
Q Did you see what happened to him after he was tied?
A No, sir, the only thing I knew, he was taken away.

[p. 40]

Q What else did the Japanese do that morning that you saw?
A I was carrying this child and I was bayoneted by the Japanese on this left abdomen. The thrust came out on the back part of my abdomen.
Q After you were bayoneted, what happened?
A I tried to fight with the Japanese and also tried to evade his further bayoneting me, and I received wounds on my fingers. This finger (witness indicating third finger) was nearly cut off and, since I was carrying the baby, the baby also received a slight bayonet wound.
Q On what part of the body did the baby receive a bayonet wound? A This part (indicating).

LIEUTENANT PHARR: Let the record show the witness pointed to a spot on the left hip of the child which she holds in her arms.

Q Were you harmed in any other way after you were bayoneted?
A I ran and they shot me, and here is the wound that I suffered because of the gunshot.

LIEUTENANT PHARR: Let the record show the witness displayed before the Commission a wound on the lower part of her right arm below the elbow.

Q Did you see those Japanese harm anyone else in your presence on February 10, 1945?
A Not in my house, but in the place where we fled was where I saw many hurt by the Japanese.
Q Would you recognize any of the Japanese whom you saw that day if you should see them again?
A Yes, sir.

[p. 41]

Q Do you see any of them in this room at this time?
A None, sir.

LIEUTENANT PHARR: No further questions.

COLONEL WORTMAN: Cross-examination?

CAPTAIN GREER: No questions.

COLONEL WORTMAN: Questions by the Commission?



Q How did you finally escape?
A I ran for my life and went into the next yard, to the yard of the next house, and hid there. Then two of my children, girls, came to me and one of them told me, “Mother, I was hurt” and she lifted her dress, the bodies of her dress.
Q What [That] is, one of the other children, besides this baby, was killed, and the other two got away, is that correct?
A All of them were able to escape. Only one was hurt or wounded.
Q One besides this baby?
A Yes, sir.

COLONEL WORTMAN: There appear to be no further questions, the witness is excused.

(Witness excused.)

Manila War Crimes Trial US Army
Photo taken during the war crimes trials in Manila.  Image credit:  U.S. National Archives.

Notes and references:
1 “Excerpts from the Testimony of Lucio Dimayuga in U.S.A. v Mikio Taneichi, Yuzo Sakata, Taichi Yamada, and Bunji Kanto,” part of the U.S. Military Commission compilation of war crimes documentation, online at the Internet Archive.
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