Testimony of Juan K. Solis on Japanese Atrocities Committed in Taal, Batangas in 1945 - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore Testimony of Juan K. Solis on Japanese Atrocities Committed in Taal, Batangas in 1945 - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

Testimony of Juan K. Solis on Japanese Atrocities Committed in Taal, Batangas in 1945

This page contains the testimony of Juan K. Solis on Japanese atrocities committed in the town of Taal, Batangas in 1945. 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. 1677]


called as witness on behalf of the Prosecution, being first duly sworn, was examined and testified as follows:


Q (By Captain Pace) Give your name, please.
A Juan K. Solis.
Q Where do you live?
A In Taal, Batangas.
Q What position did you hold in Taal?
A Mayor of that municipality.
Q How long have you been mayor, Mr. Solis?
A I have been mayor since May 10th of this year.
Q And that is mayor not only of the town of Taal, but the municipality of Taal; is that right?
A Yes, sir.

[p. 1678]

Q Did you receive orders from the Governor of the Province of Batangas to conduct in investigation into events that took place in your municipality during the occupation of the Japanese troops?
A Yes, sir. I received a circular letter from the Provincial Governor asking me to report on the number of persons killed and the number of houses burned by the Japanese in our municipality.
Q Pursuant to those orders, did you issue orders to your subordinates?
A Yes, sir.
Q What subordinates and what orders?
A In compliance with that order, I asked the barrio lieutenants of the areas affected to submit the necessary reports on the deaths and houses burned in their respective barrios.
Q And did you receive reports?
A I received up to this date partial reports.
Q You haven’t heard from all the barrios; is that right?
A I beg your pardon, sir?
Q You haven’t got reports from all the barrio lieutenants; is that right?
A I haven’t got reports from all the barrio lieutenants.
Q About what percentage have you received?
A I think about 20 per cent, more or less.
Q 50?
A 20 per cent, more or less.
Q You have received 20 per cent? A Yes.

[p. 1679]

CAPTAIN PACE: Mark this for identification.

(Copy of partial list of
victims, Municipality of
Taal, Batangas, was marked
Prosecution Exhibit No.
273 for identification.)

Q (By Captain Pace) Will you look at Prosecution’s Exhibit No. 273 for identification and tell whether you know what that document is?
A That is the partial report of the deaths in our municipality.

CAPTAIN PACE: If the Commission, please, at this time, I would like to offer Exhibit 273 in evidence. In view of the Commission’s ruling of this morning, there are some corrections that will have to be made if it is to conform with my understanding of this morning’s ruling.

On the second page at the top of the page is a statement, “Record of deaths and houses burned by the Japanese . . . ” So I suggest that the words “by Japanese” be deleted. And I think that is all I see in Exhibit 273 which is not in conformance with the Commission’s ruling. I, therefore, offer it in evidence with that one change.

GENERAL REYNOLDS: Before the Commission considers this document, we would like to have the time established more definitely, not as to the time of compiling it, but as to the time in which the deaths are alleged to have occurred.


Q (By Captain Pace) This exhibition contains the names of many people; is that right?
A Yes, sir.
Q How many?

[p. 1680]

A More than 200, sir.
Q Those people are dead?
A Yes, sir.
Q During what period did they die?
A They died February 16, 17, up to 20 of this year.
Q February 16, 17, 18, 19, 20?
A 18, 19, 20.
Q In their reports which your lieutenants submitted to you, only the deaths which took place during those four days have been reported; is that correct?
A Yes. Most of them on the 16th and 17th.
Q I beg your pardon?
A Most of them on the 16th, 17th and 18th.

CAPTAIN PACE: Yes, sir. Is that the information that the Commission desires, sir?

GENERAL REYNOLDS: Is there objection by the Defense?

CAPTAIN REEL: With the change suggested by the Prosecution to conform with this morning’s ruling, there would be no further objection.

GENERAL REYNOLDS: This document is accepted in conformity with this morning’s ruling on the paper similar nature to the one just introduced.

(Prosecution Exhibit No.
273 for identification
was received in evidence.)

CAPTAIN PACE: You may examine.


Q (By Captain Reel) How do you know, sir, that the deaths reported were on the dates 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 of February?

[p. 1681]

A I beg your pardon?
Q How do you know that the deaths that were reported occurred February 16, 17, 18, 19, 20?
A Because those were the only days when the Japanese went to that municipality to massacre and burn several barrios of that place.
Q Now, I will ask you that you please answer the question. How do you know that the report covered only those days?
A Because the dead was stated in the reports submitted by the barrio lieutenants.
Q Didn’t people die on any other days than those five days from any cause?
A There were some natural deaths.
Q And were there some deaths in the battles that occurred later?
A Only three occurred in the artillery battle between the Americans and Japanese forces.
Q Do you mean to say that during the artillery battles so far as you know, only three persons died?
A Three persons.
Q Where did you get this information?
A I myself have gone to the place where those three died.
Q And you only saw the bodies of three dead after the artillery barrage?
A Yes, sir.
Q And did you look all over the town for bodies after the artillery barrage?
A Yes, sir, I inspected the burned area as a result of the battle.

[p. 1682]

Q You looked at every square inch of that town for bodies; is that right?
A Yes, sir.
Q Those reports that you got from your lieutenants were not based on any investigation that you personally made, were they?
A In some part, I made my investigation.
Q But for the most part, you relied on the statements of your lieutenants?
A Yes, sir.
Q When did you receive the statements from your lieutenants?
A I think I received that in the later part of the month of May.
Q So that in the later part of the month of May, you received papers from your lieutenants relative to the number of dead persons in the barrio?
A Partial report.
Q And they told you that they made a list based on February 16, 17, 18, 19 and 20?
A Uh-huh (affirmative).
Q Is that right?
A That’s right.
Q When were these lieutenants appointed to make this survey?
A They were — Some of them were serving before the outbreak of war; some were appointed during the Japanese regime.
Q I am afraid you didn’t answer my question.

[p. 1683]

A And some were appointed, sir, when I was already appointed mayor.
Q I am afraid you didn’t answer my question. When were they told to make this particular survey?
A I received the provincial circular on the 15th of May, and immediately after, I circularized that circular of the provincial Governor.
Q So on the 15th of May, or after the 15th of May, you set in motion this machinery of your lieutenants to make this report?
A That is right, sir.
Q What position do you hold now?
A Mayor of Taal, Batangas.
Q And how long have you been mayor?
A Since May 10, 1945.
Q And did you live there before that, during the Japanese occupation?
A If I live in Taal? I beg your pardon? Do I live in Taal?
Q Did you live in the barrio of the town of which you are now mayor during the Japanese occupation?
A Yes, sir.
Q And are you familiar with everything that went on there?
A I think so. I can say so.
Q And can you tell us what guerrilla units were active in that area?
A Guerrilla units? So far, there was none in my municipality.

[p. 1684]

Q None in the municipality?
A (Nodding affirmatively.)
Q There were some close by the municipality, were there not?
A Yes, sir.
Q And can you tell us what those units were?
A In the nearby municipalities, I am not sure whether there were some guerrilla units. However, there was a rumor that there were some.
Q Do you know the names of them?
A No, sir.
Q Or how strong they were?
A I don’t know the names nor their strength.
Q Do you know how many units there were?
A I do not know.
Q And nearby the municipality during January and February, 1945, there were frequent guerrilla raids on the Japanese soldiers, were there not?
A That is not true.

MAJOR KERR: If the Commission, please, I object to that question. I submit that the same objection was made to a similar question yesterday and the question was directed withdrawn. It would lead us into a field rather far-fetched.

GENERAL REYNOLDS: We would prefer that the guerrilla activities be restricted to a part of the Defense presentation. We permitted the similar official at Lipa to testify this morning, and will do so as this official if there is really a purpose to be served but the nature

[p. 1685]

of the replies received so far from this witness appear to be utterly sterile.

CAPTAIN REEL: I will withdraw that line of inquiry at this point, sir.


Q (By Captain Reel) Just a question now about this artillery barrage. When was the American artillery barrage?
A On the night — No. In the morning following the arrival of the Americans on March 6th of this year.
Q January 6th?
A March 6th.
Q Oh, March 6th. How long did the artillery barrage last.
A I think it lasted for three hours.
Q And did it destroy most of the town?
A Only a section of the municipality of Taal and the commercial section of the neighboring municipality, Lemery.
Q And were certain houses marked for destruction by units friendly to the Americans?
A Pardon me?
Q Were there houses marked for destruction by units friendly to the Americans?
A No, sir.
Q Was there airplane bombing of the town?
A There was none.
Q Just before the artillery barrage, was there a raid by units friendly to the Americans?

CAPTAIN PACE: If the Commission, please, “units friendly to the Americans” sounds like what we have been

[p. 1686]

talking about in the way of guerrillas all along.

CAPTAIN REEL: Sirs, this has reference merely to the guerrilla activity at the time of the artillery barrage.

GENERAL REYNOLDS: Will you read that question back, please?

(Question read.)

CAPTAIN REEL: That does refer, sir, to guerrillas just prior to the artillery barrage.

MAJOR KERR: If it pleases the Commission, may I point out that this line of questioning is directed to a period of time that is wholly irrelevant. The matters which have previously been testified to by the witness were in February. He has just stated that the barrage took place in March. I submit that it should have no connection whatsoever.

GENERAL REYNOLDS: The objection is sustained.

CAPTAIN REEL: That’s all.

(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 Juan K. Solis in U.S.A. v Tomoyuki Yamashita,” part of the U.S. Military Commission compilation of war crimes documentation, online at the Internet Archive.
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