Testimony of Shumpei Hagino on Charges of Atrocities in Batangas in 1945: Direct Examination
THE WITNESS: Shumpei Hagino.
MR. GUTHRIE: Are you an accused in this proceeding?
THE WITNESS: Yes.
MR. GUTHRIE: I will advise you as to certain rights you have. As such an accused, you are not required to testify in this case unless you want to do so voluntarily. I will also advise you that if you do testify, on behalf of yourself, then as to the subject matter which you do testify to may then be cross-examined and asked questions by the prosecutor. Do you understand what I have said to you?
THE WITNESS: I do.
THE WITNESS: I do.
MR. BERNARD: How old are you?
Q What was your rank in the Imperial Japanese Army?
A Second Lieutenant, Army.
Q To what organization were you attached?
A Headquarters, Second Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment.
Q Where were you stationed from the end of 1944 until your surrender?
Q Who was your commanding officer?
A Captain Ichimura.
Q And who was Captain’s Ichimura’s commanding officer?
A Colonel Fujishige.
Q What was your organization’s greatest difficulty in February, 1945?
A Our biggest problem was due to the activity of the guerrillas. When and if the American forces landed, we would not be able to oppose them effectively.
Q What area did your organization cover?
A May I point it out on the map?
A (Witness went to the wall map.) On the west, the area under our unit was bounded by the Pansipit River, excluding the town of Lemery, and including the town of Taal. We
Q During February 1945, there was much guerrilla activity in the Bauan area, the Taal and the Bauan area?
A Yes, the guerrillas were very active. I will give you a couple of examples. In the town of Batangas, we had one small arsenal where there were quantities of rifles and pistols and some small arms and ammunition. The guerrillas attacked this place and carried off about 200 rifles and pistols and a great amount of small arms and ammunition. Also in the town of Batangas, the guerrillas suddenly attacked a supply depot. They shot down the guards and took away all the supplies inside. This second attack was during the early part of February.
Q You said you were wounded? Did you get medical attention for that wound?
Q Who treated you?
A Lieutenant Ueno, who was attached to the battalion headquarters, treated my wound.
Q What was the nature of your wound?
A It was a grazing flesh wound, either by rifle or pistol bullet or automatic rifle bullet.
Q Where was that wound?
A In the leg.
Q Will you raise your trousers and show the Commission that wound?
MR. BERNARD: Let the record show that the accused, Hagino, has shown a scar on his left leg.
A The Army Group Commander gave an order for punitive expeditions against the guerrillas.
Q Who was it that issued that order?
A Colonel Fujishige, the Group Commander, gave the order to the Battalion Commander.
Q Who was Battalion Commander at that time?
A Captain Ichimura.
Q And to whom did Captain Ichimura give the order, in turn?
A He ordered First Lieutenant Takemoto to carry out the punitive expeditions.
Q Why didn’t he carry it out himself, do you know?
A At the time, Captain Ichimura was sick and could not leave on an expedition.
Q Now, what was that order?
A The order was for the Second Battalion to carry out punitive expeditions against Taal and its vicinity, that is, within the area [of] jurisdiction of the battalion in preparation for the American landing. Another order was given for the carrying out of an expedition to Bauan, they were separate orders for different expeditions and the strength of those expeditions were also stated in the orders.
Q Did you participate in those expeditions?
A Yes, I participated in the expeditions of Taal and Bauan.
Q Were you in charge of those expeditions?
Q Who appointed First Lieutenant Takemoto in charge of those expeditions?
A Captain Ichimura.
Q Were you ever mistaken as the man in charge by anyone?
A Lieutenant Takemoto and I resemble each other very closely and there were many times when other persons mistook me for Lieutenant Takemoto or vice versa. Such was the case even back in Manchuria, and it is quite possible that there were times during the expedition that I was mistaken for the expedition commander.
Q On the expedition to Taal, what were your duties?
A The Intendance Officer did not go along on that expedition so I took charge of the supplies and the administrative function of the expedition in his absence.
Q What were your duties on the expedition to Bauan?
A I was in charge of supplies and [the] procurement of medical supplies.
Q Were you in or near the Bautista house at the time of the explosion?
A Such things were not included among my duties. I was not on the spot. I had gone once to the church though, but with regard to the explosion, I never gave such an order nor did I permit my men to do such a thing. Lieutenant Owari, who was a witness in this case, can testify to the fact that I was not at the spot of the explosion. He can also testify to the fact that I did not give an order for the explosion, nor did I have anything to do with its performance.
(The Commission adjourned at 1500 hours, to reconvene at 0830 hours, 6 February 1947.)
MR. BERNARD: Hagino, during this period of February, 1945, did you ever wear a mustache?
Q Did Lieutenant Takemoto, during that period, wear a mustache?
Q Did Lieutenant Takemoto wear glasses or spectacles?
A He did not wear glasses, but at times Lieutenant Takemoto wore sunglasses.
Q Were you in or near the church at Bauan in the morning of February 28, 1945, when the explosion occurred?
Q Were you within the vicinity of the Bautista house in the morning of February 28, 1945, when the explosion occurred?
Q Where were you and what were you doing?
A My duty at that time was to take charge of supplies and procurement of medical supplies, so I did not stay in one place. I kept moving around. If I am given some time, I probably can explain or state where I was at a given hour.
A We entered the town of Bauan in the morning of the 28th of February at about 8:30. At that time, I went to the municipal building, together with Lieutenant Owari. I stayed there up to 0900 hours. I made preparations for the noon meal and for any unexpected casualties which might be incurred by Japanese soldiers.
On the road to Batangas, about two hundred meters from the church, there was a drugstore. That drugstore was owned by a person named Orlanes. I arrived at that drugstore at five minutes past ten. I met Orlanes and I inquired from him whether he had any medicine and other equipment and supplies which would be necessary in case any of the soldiers were wounded. I stayed at his place for about twenty minutes.
I learned that in the town of Bauan, there were almost no medical supplies, so I left the drugstore at about 10:25. I continued up the road toward Batangas for about two hundred meters till I arrived at the house of a doctor. It was then about 10:30.
When I arrived at the municipal building, I was told to prepare the evening meal. I had made preparations for only the noon meal, so I had to leave once more for the place where I had bought food supplies in the morning. I bought additional food supplies for the evening meal and returned to the municipal building at 11:30.
Suddenly, an order came; an order arrived from battalion headquarters in Dita. That order stated that American forces — that American ships had appeared in Batangas Bay and that a landing was imminent. The Japanese forces expected the landing either today or tomorrow, so Lieutenant Owari and I were told to leave the expedition and return at once to Dita.
However, when I returned to the municipal building, Lieutenant Owari was no longer there. I wanted to report to Lieutenant Takemoto that I was leaving for Dita, so I went to the church. On the way to the church, I met Lieutenant Owari. That time was about 35 minutes past eleven. Lieutenant Owari told me that he had already told Lieutenant Takemoto that we were going back to the battalion headquarters, so, without proceeding to the church, I returned with him to the municipal building.
On the way to Dita, I inquired from Lieutenant Owari about the explosion. Lieutenant Owari and I left the municipal building about 11:45 or 11:50. We proceeded towards the bridge which I had passed the previous morning. However, it had already been destroyed by bombing, so we walked up to the bridge and from there, we went by car to Dita. We arrived at Dita at about twenty minutes past twelve.
As soon as we arrived at Dita, Lieutenant Owari called up by telephone Second Lieutenant Sato, who was the intelligence officer of the battalion.
Lieutenant Owari called up Lieutenant Sato in order to learn about the latest intelligence regarding the American ships which had entered Batangas Bay.
The above is a detailed statement of my actions on that morning. However, as to who gave the order for that explosion, and where I was at the exact moment the explosion occurred, I think that Lieutenant Owari could testify. That is all.
Q Will you account for your time on February 16, 17 and 18, 1945?
A On the 16th, we left the battalion headquarters at Dita at about 5:00 in the morning. We went by car to a road junction connecting the towns of Taal, Bauan, and Cuenca, that was the assembly point. All the units were assembled by 0800 hours. Then, Lieutenant Takemoto, who was the commander of the expedition, gave the orders to all the units. At that time, American planes were very active and it was not possible for Lieutenant Takemoto to give the units their orders while they were in formation on the road. So, the troops were dispersed hiding under the houses or taking cover wherever they could. They were given their orders in their dispersed positions. I received orders to take charge of the supplies. Upon receiving my orders, I ordered Sergeant Kimura, one of my subordinates, to proceed to a point midway between Taal and the assembly point and to prepare quarters for the troops there. I gave him ten men. Lieutenant Takemoto finished giving the orders at about 0820 or 0830 hours and the punitive expedition was ready to leave. Then, the different units with their respective orders proceeded to Taal. At a point about one kilometer from the assembly point on the road towards Taal, there was a small road which turned to the right and we followed that road. Sergeant Kimura with the ten men under his command separated from the main
Q Just a moment; in the fighting that you related on the 16th, did you participate in that engagement?
A I just followed the main force and I did not participate in battle.
Q You may go on.
A These orders were given in the area where we were quartered and I believe it was about 0830 when the main unit started out. There were many people in the town of Taal, there seemed to be nothing out of the ordinary there. In the town of Taal, I separated again from the main force in order to purchase provisions. I believe it was approximately 0915 when we reached Taal. I stayed behind in Taal and purchased provisions and the main force proceeded to San Nicolas. After purchasing the various provisions in the town of Taal, I again ordered five of my men to take them back to the area where we were quartered.
MR. GUTHRIE: Hagino, you are reminded that you are still under the oath that was first administered to you.
(Interpreter Taccad translated to the witness.)
Q You may continue.
A As on the day previous, the expedition commander gave orders to assemble the entire unit at about 0800. My orders for that day were to go to Taal to purchase provisions. After the orders were given, the unit proceeded to Taal. The main strength again turned to the right at a point approximately seven hundred to eight hundred meters from the area where we were quartered. I and ten men under me separated from the main strength at that point and proceeded to Taal. We reached Taal at about 0900 or 0930. We purchased provisions in Taal and its vicinity from one to one and a half hours. We were not familiar with the terrain in the vicinity of Taal, so we obtained a guide in order to purchase provisions in the vicinity of Taal.
I learned later from the expedition commander that there was no fighting on the 17th. He also told me that
Q Did you personally engage in any fighting on either the 17th or 18th of February?
A No, I did not.
Q Did you on either of these expeditions wound or kill or permit members under your command to wound or kill anybody?
|Photo taken during the war crimes trials in Manila. Image credit: U.S. National Archives.|