Testimony of Isao Ichimura in War Crimes Trial for Atrocities Committed in Batangas in 1945 - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore Testimony of Isao Ichimura in War Crimes Trial for Atrocities Committed in Batangas in 1945 - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

Testimony of Isao Ichimura in War Crimes Trial for Atrocities Committed in Batangas in 1945


This page contains the transcription of the testimony of Isao Ichimura 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.

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

[p. 185]


a witness for the defense, being first duly sworn, testified as follows through Interpreters Taccad and Nishihara:


Q What is your name?
A Isao Ichimura.
Q How old are you?
A 28.
Q What was your rank with the Imperial Japanese Army?
A Captain.
Q Captain of what?
A Of Infantry.
Q Where were your headquarters during the month of February, 1945?
A At Dita.
Q And who was your immediate superior officer?
A Colonel Fujishige.
Q Did you get your direct orders from Colonel Fujishige?
A Yes, my battalion received orders from Colonel Fujishige.
COLONEL HAMBY: Off-the-record.
(Off-the-record discussion.)

COLONEL HAMBY: At this time, the Commission directs that the prosecutor warn this witness of his rights as a witness, in case that at some time in the future, he might be on trial as an accused war criminal.

MR. GUTHRIE: Ichimura, at this time I will

[p. 186]

state to you what your rights are as a witness in this case. You have the right to refuse to answer any question if you think, if you believe, that the answer will tend to incriminate you personally and you also have a right to decline to answer any question which you think might tend to degrade you personally. I also state to you that as those questions are asked, and if you desire to exercise that right, you must claim it by making that desire known to the Commission.

MR. BERNARD: What were your greatest problems during February, 1945?

MR. GUTHRIE: That question is objected to on the grounds that it has not been shown that this witness was in command of the Second Battalion at the time stated in that question.

COLONEL HAMBY: The Law Member will rule.

COLONEL POBLETE: Objection overruled. The witness may answer.

A One of the greatest problems at that times was the activities of the guerrillas.
Q Can you give us instances which aggravated you?
A I remember, for instance, where our communication wires were destroyed by the guerrillas. When our men went out to repair these wires, they received another attack from the guerrillas.
Q Do you have any other instances in mind?
A I also remember that there was a small arms arsenal of revolvers and rifles, approximately two hundred, I believe, at Batangas and I remember that these were taken by the

[p. 187]

Q Were any of your men ever attacked and killed or wounded in contests with guerrillas?
A Yes.
Q How many men were under your command?
A The strength of the Second Battalion was approximately three hundred men.
Q Were any of those men either killed or wounded in contests with guerrillas?
A Yes, about thirty of forty of them.
Q Now, did you receive orders regarding guerrilla warfare from your superior officers?
A Yes.
Q From whom?
A From Colonel Fujishige.

MR. GUTHRIE: The question is objected to unless it is shown that this witness was in command at that time. The fact is that I happen to know that he didn’t have a command and I don’t think the defense can establish that he had a command.

COLONEL HAMBY: The Law Member will rule.

COLONEL POBLETE: Objection overruled. Witness may answer.

Q What were those orders?
A I heard that punitive measures were to be taken against guerrillas and those cooperating with them.
MR. GUTHRIE: I move that the answer be stricken as to what he heard unless he was stating what the order was

[p. 188]

that was given to him and who gave it to him.
MR. BERNARD: If the prosecution, please, I will bring all that out.

COLONEL HAMBY: The record will stand as it is.

Q From whom did you hear that?
A 1st Lt. Takemoto.
Q How did 1st Lt. Takemoto happen to get the orders instead of you?
A I was ill at that time and 1st Lt. Takemoto was representing me at that time.
Q Was he representing you by your appointment or by the appointment of some superior officer?
A Colonel Fujishige ordered that he carry out those punitive expeditions.

[p. 189]

Q Who did you say carried out those punitive expeditions?
A First Lieutenant Takemoto carried them out.
Q Upon whose instructions?
A According to the orders of Colonel Fujishige.
Q Against what barrios or municipalities were those orders carried out?
A The neighborhoods of Bauan and Taal.
Q Did you have any discretion as to the selection of the barrios or municipalities?

MR. GUTHRIE: That is objected to as immaterial. That has no bearing on this case as to the discretion this witness has. He is not an accused in this case at the present moment.

COLONEL HAMBY: The Law Member will rule.

COLONEL POBLETE: Objection overruled. The witness may answer.

A The contents of the order were to take these measures in Bauan and Taal.
Q How many expeditions were there?
A There were two, one to Taal and one to Bauan.
Q Was the same officer in command of both expeditions?
A Yes.
Q When did they take place?
A I am not sure of this, but I believe they were carried out after the middle part of February.
Q Who was in direct command of these expeditions?
MR. GUTHRIE: That is objected to unless it is shown that this witness knows who was in direct command.

[p. 190]

If he is going to just state what he thought, it is immaterial.

MR. BERNARD: I will rephrase the question to satisfy the prosecution, with the permission of the Commission.

COLONEL HAMBY: Please rephrase the question.

MR. BERNARD: If you know personally, will you state who was in direct command of these expeditions?

A First Lieutenant Takemoto was in command.
Q Of both of them?
A Yes.
Q If you know personally, who accompanied Takemoto in the Taal expedition?
A I do not know of the man who went with him.

[p. 191]

Q Was Hagino along?
A Yes, I believe so.
Q Was Takemoto in charge of Hagino?

MR. GUTHRIE: It is objected to as calling for a conclusion of this witness, as to who was in charge.

COLONEL HAMBY: The Law Member will rule.

COLONEL POBLETE: Objection overruled, witness may answer.

A First Lieutenant Takemoto was.
Q Who accompanied Takemoto on the Bauan expedition, if you know personally?
A I remember that Hagino went along.
Q Who was in charge, Takemoto or Hagino on the Bauan expedition?
A First Lieutenant Takemoto was in command.
Q How did you keep informed as to the activities of the Second Battalion while you were ill?
A There were some things I heard later and also there were some reports I received while I was ill.
Q What did Takemoto look like physically, will you describe him to the Commission?
A He was rather tall for a Japanese and his physique somewhat resembled that of Hagino. He also had a long face, and on that point, he was similar to Hagino.
Q Was he ever confused with Hagino by people?
MR. GUTHRIE: Objected to on the ground it has absolutely no bearing on this case as to whether Takemoto was ever confused with Hagino, or Hagino confused with

[p. 192]

Takemoto. It is speculative to the nth degree unless it is shown by whom he was confused. If counsel intends to show that any of the witnesses on the prosecution’s case have ever been confused, or mistaken the identity of these two persons, then I will withdraw the objection, but unless counsel will first state that he can do that, I desire a ruling upon the objection. In other words, the point is, who was confused or who made the mistaken identity.
COLONEL HAMBY: The Law Member will rule.

COLONEL POBLETE: Do you have any purpose in asking that question, Mr. Defense Counsel?

MR. BERNARD: Yes, sir, I do. The name Hagino has been sung in this case and it becomes a byword by people. It can happen that two or three people do carry a resemblance and I have seen hesitancy on the part of the witnesses and that is why I want to find out from him whether he is or in his experience had heard people confuse the two.

COLONEL POBLETE: Objection overruled, the witness may answer.

A Do you mean myself?
Q No, the people associated with him.
A In a slight darkness, there is difficulty in telling the two apart and I believe that these two men might be confused.
Q When did you recover from your illness?
A In the month of March.
Q Were you returned to your command?
A Yes.

[p. 193]

MR. BERNARD: The prosecution may have the witness.


Q What was the exact wording of the orders that came to the Second Battalion concerning the subjugation of Taal and Bauan?
A The Army was to carry out a thorough subjugation of guerrillas. The Second Battalion was ordered to carry them out in the Taal and Bauan areas against all guerrillas and any other persons cooperating with them. I heard this from Lieutenant Takemoto.
Q Did you ever seen any written orders on that subject?
A I remember that I did see them.
Q And to the best of your knowledge, you have stated the entire contents of those written orders?
A Yes. Later, I also received telephone reports concerning other orders relating to Taal and Bauan.
Q Alright, tell us all about all the orders that you ever heard about.

MR. BERNARD: If the Commission, please, I object to that question except as refers to orders for the areas of Taal and Bauan.

MR. GUTHRIE: I understand the question is to be limited to that.

COLONEL HAMBY: Please limit your question to that area.

A There was the order I have testified to previously and also the orders I received over the telephone.

[p. 194]

Q What were the orders that you received over the telephone?
A It was to the following effect: why didn’t the Second Battalion carry out these orders since they had already been given to Takemoto and since the landing of the American forces was imminent, these orders should be carried out immediately. I heard this sometime after the other order I have mentioned.
Q Now, have you related all you know that was in all the orders that you were given concerning Taal and Bauan?
A That is all that the orders contained that came from Colonel Fujishige.
Q Did Colonel Fujishige’s orders concerning Taal and Bauan direct the killing of non-combatant citizens?
A The orders stated that punitive measures were to be carried out against guerrillas and all other persons [who] cooperated with them. However, it also stated that other than guerrillas and those cooperating with them must not be touched.

MR. GUTHRIE: That is all.

COLONEL HAMBY: Questions by the Commission? There appearing to be none, the witness is excused.

(Witness excused.)
Notes and references:
1 “Transcription of the Testimony of Isao Ichimura 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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