Testimony of Ichiro Kobayashi on Charges of Atrocities in Batangas in 1945 - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore Testimony of Ichiro Kobayashi on Charges of Atrocities in Batangas in 1945 - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

Testimony of Ichiro Kobayashi on Charges of Atrocities in Batangas in 1945

This page contains the transcription of the testimony of one of the accused, Ichiro Kobayashi, for the defense in U.S.A. v Shumpei Hagino, et al., one of the trials of personnel of the Imperial Japanese Army for war crimes involving atrocities committed in the Province of Batangas. 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. 266]


a witness in his own behalf, being first duly sworn, testified as follows through interpreters Taccad and Nishihara:



MR. GUTHRIE: State your name.

A Ichiro Kobayashi.
Q And you are an accused in this case?
A Yes.
Q I will explain the rights you have in this case because of your status as an accused. You are not required to testify in this case and if you do so, it must be voluntary on your part. Do you understand the rights I have just explained to you?
A Yes.
Q I will explain further that if you do testify, then you will be subjected to cross-examination by the prosecution.
A I understand.
Q And understanding these rights, do you still desire to testify?
A Yes, I would like to testify.

MR. BERNARD: Ichiro Kobayashi, how old are you?

A Thirty-three.
Q What was your rank with the Imperial Japanese Army?
A Warrant Officer, Army.
Q To what organization were you attached?
A I was attached to the 17th Infantry Regiment, Second

[p. 267]

Battalion, 6th Company.
Q And who was your immediate superior officer?
A My immediate superior was the commanding officer of the Sixth Company, First Lieutenant Shigeru Takahashi.
Q Who was Lieutenant Takahashi’s immediate superior officer?
A His commanding officer was the commander of the second battalion, Captain Isao Ichimura.
Q Who was Captain Ichimura’s immediate superior officer, do you know?
A Yes, I know.
Q Who was he?
A Captain Takahashi’s immediate superior officer was Colonel Masatoshi Fujishige, commanding officer of the 17th Infantry Regiment.
Q Where were you stationed in February, 1945?
A Until the 24th of February, I was stationed in Batangas, Batangas, together with Lieutenant Hosaka. We were with the garrison at the wharf. On the 24th of February, I left Batangas [and] headed for Dita. I arrived at Dita late at night, late at night on the 25th, and there I joined the main force of the battalion. I was with the battalion from then on until we came down from the mountains.
Q You heard of the Taal and Bauan expeditions related here. Did you go on the Taal expedition?
A No, at that time I was garrisoned at the wharves in Batangas, so I could not have participated in the

[p. 268]

Q You say you didn’t participate in the Taal expedition?
A I did not.
Q Did you participate in the Bauan expedition?
A I participated in the Bauan expedition. We received the orders from the battalion commander. I was ordered to participate in the expedition. It was only when we were on the outskirts of the town of Bauan that I learned that we were on a punitive expedition. What I knew was that it was an emergency maneuver or something. I would like to explain in detail.

MR. BERNARD: Explain.

A We left Batangas late at night on the 24th. We marched towards Dita and bivouacked on the way. On the 25th, we arrived late at night in Dita. At that time, I had a talk with Second Lieutenant Hosaka. Then, on the 26th, on the night of the 26th, we had emergency maneuvers which were supposedly carried out to find out whether or not the soldiers were ready to go into combat at a moment’s notice. On the night of the 26th, after the emergency exercises were over, when we were about to dismiss, the company commander said that our assembly was too slow and from now on, we had to practice over and over again how to assemble fast. Then, we were dismissed. On the next night, the night of the 27th, or to be more accurate, early morning of the 28th, that is, about three or four a.m., there was a

[p. 269]

call to arms. In order not to be scolded for being too late in assembly, I hurried up and assembled immediately. When we were assembled, the company commander ordered us to get on board some motor vehicles. We rode towards Bauan and arrived at the outskirts of Bauan while it was still dark. When we arrived at the outskirts of Bauan, we rested. We posted sentries and carried out security measures and we rested until daybreak. After daybreak, I was called to the company commander and he gave orders regarding the punitive expedition to the town of Bauan.
Q Who was in charge of the maneuvers you referred to?
A The company commander.
Q Who was the company commander?
A First Lieutenant Shigeru Takahashi, commander of the Sixth Company.
Q Who was in charge of the expedition?
A At the time, the commander of the expedition was the commander of the machine gun company, First Lieutenant Takemoto.

COLONEL HAMBY: The Commission will now recess until 1300 this date.

(The Commission then recessed until 1130 hours, to reconvene at 1300 hours.)

[p. 270]

A F T E R N O O N    S E S S I O N

COLONEL HAMBY: The Commission is in session.

MR. GUTHRIE: Sir, the members of the Commission are present, the accused together with their counsel are present and the prosecution is present.

At the conclusion of the morning’s session, the witness Kobayashi was being examined on direct examination by the defense.


a witness for the defense, having been previously duly sworn, testified further as follows through Interpreters Taccad and Nishihara:

MR. GUTHRIE: Kobayashi, you were sworn this morning and you are still under oath, the testimony that you will give is still under oath.

(Interpreter Nishihara interpreted to the witness.)


Q Kobayashi, did you participate in any fighting during the months of January and February 1945?
A Yes.
Q Tell us about it.
A On the 29th of January, I participated in some fighting in the Batangas pier area. At that time, four American landing barges attempted a landing. At that time, more than ten B-25’s coordinated in the attack. Out of

[p. 271]

my platoon, six men were killed and we had five or six wounded. The units which participated in that engagement were the Kobayashi platoon and a Navy-based anti-aircraft cannon platoon. At that time, Warrant Officer Hosaka — I made an error when I said he was Second Lieutenant, he became a Second Lieutenant after we came out of the hills. Warrant Officer Hosaka, with three men, was at a point approximately a hundred and fifty meters away from me for the purpose of observing the scene. At that time, both [the] Kobayashi and Hosaka platoons participated in the engagement. During this engagement, I lost my sword due to the bombing. Warrant Officer Hosaka retreated from the position in the pier area late that night. Sergeant Major Kato and twenty men later came to carry away the dead. Sergeant Kato and Warrant Officer Hosaka can testify to the fact that I lost my sword there. From January 29th on, I was without my sword and I had a rifle.

MR. BERNARD: That is sufficient on that point. I see the significance of it. If the Commission please, he was referring to his sword which he had before.

Q You testified that you were in the area of Bauan. Were you at or near the church in Bauan, when the explosion occurred on the 28th of February 1945 at the Bautista house?
A I was not there. I was in front of the Municipal Building.
Q Were you within the vicinity of the Bautista house when the explosion occurred on February 28, 1945?
A No, I was not.

[p. 272]

Q Did you know Lieutenant Takemoto personally?
A Yes.
Q How long did you know him?
A It was after Lieutenant Takemoto was attached to that company, so that would amount to about five years.
Q How long have you been acquainted with Hagino?
A From about three years ago.
Q Did you observe any similarity in their physical appearance?
A Yes, they looked so much alike that anyone who would see them for the first time would easily mistake them.
Q Did you wound or kill any Filipino civilians, or did you order any of your men to kill Filipino civilians in Bauan on February 28, 1945?
A No, sir.

MR. BERNARD: Your witness.

THE WITNESS (Accused Ichiro KOBAYASHI): I have something else to say.

MR. BERNARD: With the permission of the Commission, you may say it.


MR. GUTHRIE: I move the Commission at this time to direct the translator to translate so much of the last statement, all of the lost statement of the witness up to this point so that we may see whether it is material to this case or not.

MR. BERNARD: No objection.

COLONEL HAMBY: So ordered.

[p. 273]

THE WITNESS (Accused KOBAYASHI): A Filipino witness was on the stand recently and he pointed me out as the officer who gave the order for killing. I believe that is a great error. At that time, I did not have an officer’s uniform on. The reason for this was the fact that there was a fear of attacks by guerrillas, therefore, I dressed as an ordinary soldier. I only had my trousers on and a blouse. I was armed with a rifle and had no sword as I explained before. Unless anyone knew me personally, they could not identify me as an officer. After the expedition, I heard the following from my company commander, Captain Shigeru Takahashi. Lieutenant Takemoto ordered all of the people in the town to go to the church. Lieutenant Takemoto was ordered to locate all persons who did not comply with this order and to gather them into a certain house. The company commander told me that he had given the order to have these people killed. There was also a ship’s captain in Batangas at that time. He had heard from other people that Lieutenant Takemoto had given the order to kill the people. The people of Batangas knew Lieutenant Takemoto very well. I wish to call three persons from Japan who will testify to the foregoing.

MR. BERNARD: Does the Commission wish the witness to continue?


THE WITNESS (Accused KOBAYASHI): The members of the Second Battalion, of course, knew that I had

[p. 274]

had no sword and anyone whom I met after that time knew that I did not. I am sure the three witnesses if I called from Japan would make that fact certain.

INTERPRETER NISHIHARA: May I inform the Commission as to what he is saying? It may not be necessary. He is giving the names and addresses of three witnesses who he proposes to summon, and whom he wishes to be called.


THE WITNESS (Accused Kobayashi): The following are the names and addresses of the three witnesses who could make the fact which I have mentioned before clear. They are: Private First Class Ito Tadashi, he was acting as a messenger at that time and he was a medical soldier. His address is Akitaken, Sembokogun, Rokugomachi. The second is a captain of which I mentioned before, captain of the ship. His name is Ando Zenichi, and his address is Kagoshimaken, Shiokigun, Kushikinomschi, Shimomiwo. The third is a crew member of the ship of which the above was a captain. His name is Ohta Shoshun and his address is the same as the captain of the ship.

MR. BERNARD: Just a moment, will the Commission grant the prosecution and me a side-bar conference?

(Off-the-record discussion had.)

[p. 275]

MR. BERNARD: Your witness.


Q When Takemoto told you that he gave the order to kill those people in Bauan, did he tell you who he gave the order to?
A Takemoto never gave me any information regarding that matter.
Q But did he tell you that have gave the order to kill the people?

MR. BERNARD: I object, if the Commission please, the testimony will bear us out that Takemoto gave his order —

MR. GUTHRIE: I will withdraw the question.

Q What else did Takemoto tell you about giving orders in Bauan?

MR. BERNARD: I object, sir, the witness did not testify to Takemoto giving him any order. He said that Takemoto gave the orders to Takahashi and that Takahashi gave the orders. The testimony will bear me out.

COLONEL HAMBY: Do you care to withdraw the question?

MR. GUTHRIE: I will withdraw the question.

Q Did Takahashi tell you who was ordered to kill the people in Bauan?
A Yes, I learned that from Lieutenant Shigeru Takahashi.
Q Who were they?

[p. 276]

A Lieutenant Takahashi received the order from Lieutenant Takemoto.
Q What was the order?
A I don’t know the details.
Q You had eight or nine enlisted men under you at Bauan?
A Yes.
Q And did you receive any orders as to what you were to do at Bauan?
A Yes.
Q What were those orders?
A I received the following order from Lieutenant Takahashi, company commander of the Sixth Company, at the bridge west of Bauan in the morning of the 28th, after daybreak. I received the following order: “Pursuant to the orders of [the] Regimental Commander, Colonel Fujishige, the Second Battalion is ordered on a punitive expedition to Bauan. The Sixth Company, pursuant to the orders received by the Second Battalion, will participate under the command of [the] company commander, Captain Ichimura. Excuse me, I mean Battalion Commander, Captain Ichimura. The expedition commander will be First Lieutenant Takemoto. The Sixth Company will enter the command of First Lieutenant Takemoto and proceed to the security positions as ordered. The Kobayashi platoon will remain under the command of Warrant Officer Kobayashi, with the exception of one squad which he will send at once to the company commander. The rest of the Kobayashi Platoon are to

[p. 277]

proceed to the municipal building and take up security measures in that area. They are to await for further orders.”
Q Did you, as platoon leader, later receive any further orders?
A Until we returned, I did not receive any other orders.
Q What were the next orders you did receive?
A I received an order to assemble as the expedition was returning. I received an order to assemble at the assembly point as the expedition was returning.
Q What security measures did you take?
A The municipal building was the temporary expedition headquarters; so that it would not be attacked, I took security measures. I posted sentries at street corners away from the municipal building. There was always a messenger at the place of the company commander so that he would be able to give me an order the moment it was necessary to do so. As to the other members of the platoon, they were in the area resting, but ready for battle or combat at any time. At that time, the American planes were active and so we were camouflaged and stayed in the shade.
Q Do you know whether any persons were bayoneted in Bauan on that day?
A I don’t know.
Q Did you ever hear whether any persons had been bayoneted?
A No, I never heard of it.
Q None of the members of the punitive expedition

[p. 278]

ever told you or stated in your presence that any Filipinos had been bayoneted, is that your testimony?
A At that time, I never heard anything.
Q At any time?
A The only thing I heard was what I stated here before, what I heard from Takahashi. I never heard anything else.
Q Well, will you say that there weren’t any Filipinos bayoneted at Bauan on February 28?
A I don’t know.

MR. GUTHRIE: That is all.

COLONEL HAMBY: At this time, the Commission will take a short recess.

(Short recess.)

[p. 279]

COLONEL HAMBY: The Commission is in session.

MR. GUTHRIE: I’ll advise the witness that he is still under oath.

(Interpreter Taccad interpreted to the witness.)

MR. GUTHRIE: No further questions on cross-examination.

MR. BERNARD: There is no redirect examination.

COLONEL HAMBY: Questions by the members of the Commission?


Q How long were you in the municipality of Bauan on February 28, 1945?
A I stayed there from about 9:00 in the morning until noon.
Q Did you inspect your men posted as sentries on the different corners near the Municipal Building?
A Yes, I did.
Q Did you receive any reports from them?
A Yes, I received reports from them. They reported there was nothing unusual.
Q Did your men take any Filipino to you while you were in the vicinity of the Municipal Building?
A No, they never brought any Filipino to me.
Q In your inspection, did you see any barbershop in that vicinity?
A I did not go out to inspect the sentries, they were standing right in front of me.

[p. 280]

Q Did you see any barbershop around or in the vicinity of the Municipal Building?
A I don’t know. I did not see any barbershop.
Q Did you see any funeral parlor in that vicinity?
A No.

COLONEL POBLETE: No further questions.

Q What provisions did you make for feeding the men of your platoon the noon meal 28 February?
A We had hardtack for lunch. Dinner had been prepared for us near the Municipal Building but at that time, we didn’t know about it so we had the hardtack we brought along with us.

COLONEL LAWHON: That is all.

Q What did you order your men to do that day, February 28, 1945, what were their duties, you said you had eight or ten under your command?
A I ordered them to stand on guard as sentry one by one at the street corner away from the Municipal Building. The rest were to wait nearby ready for action at any time.
Q Was that action to lead the people to the church that morning?
A No, we were told to wait so that we would be able to help the company commander in the event that any fighting broke out in which the other units of the company would take part.

[p. 281]

Q Do you recall seeing any of the witnesses who testified in this Court? Do you recall seeing them at Bauan?
A I never saw any of them.

COLONEL READ: That is all.

Q How long have you known the accused Ito, a co-defendant with you in this case?
A I have known him for about four years.
Q Do you consider him a good soldier?
A Yes, of course, I consider him a good soldier.
Q Do you consider him an honorable man?
A Yes, I think he has a very good character.
Q Do you consider him a truthful man?
A Yes.
Q Do you consider that he will tell the truth on any and all occasion?
A Yes, I believe that he will always tell the truth. Among his classmates, that is, those who graduated with him from the non-commissioned officers’ school, he was especially chosen to be attached to the battalion headquarters. He must have qualifications from the point of character and excellency in [the] performance of duty.
Q Did you go on the expedition to Taal on February 16, 17 and 18, 1945?
A Are you referring to me or Ito?
Q To you.
A I did not participate.
Q In Exhibit No. 14, Statement by the Accused Ito, he

[p. 282]

was asked the question, “Will you name all those who you remember seeing on this expedition to Taal,” and he named you, Warrant Officer Kobayashi, Ichiro, as being present on the expedition at Taal. If Ito is such a truthful man, who do you explain this statement?
A I believe it is a mistake.

COLONEL HAMBY: Any further questions?

Q How far was the government building in Bauan located from the church?
A I do not know for sure because I never went to the church.
Q Isn’t it a fact that the government building is located directly across the plaza from the church in Bauan?
A I don’t know. The Municipal Building was at the northern part of the town.

COLONEL HAMBY: There appearing 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 “Transcription of the Testimony of Ichiro Kobayashi in U.S.A. v Shumpei Hagino, et al.,” part of the U.S. Military Commission compilation of war crimes documentation, online at the Internet Archive.
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