Testimony of Shumpei Hagino on Charges of Atrocities in Batangas in 1945: Direct Examination - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore Testimony of Shumpei Hagino on Charges of Atrocities in Batangas in 1945: Direct Examination - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

Testimony of Shumpei Hagino on Charges of Atrocities in Batangas in 1945: Direct Examination

This page contains the transcription of the testimony of one of the accused, Shumpei Hagino 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 main premise of the defense, that the defendant was actually mistaken for somebody with almost similar attributes, sounds a bit desperate. The defendant’s testimony, too, more than two years after the incidents he described, seemed suspiciously detailed to be true. This testimony is, nonetheless, a compelling if lengthy read. This installment contains the direct examination of the accused by the defense counsel.

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. 236]


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


BY MR. BERNARD: Will the prosecutor please advise the witness of his rights?

MR. GUTHRIE: State your name.

THE WITNESS: Shumpei Hagino.

MR. GUTHRIE: Are you an accused in this proceeding?


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?


[p. 237]

MR. GUTHRIE: And after that explanation of your rights, do you still desire to take the stand and testify?


MR. BERNARD: How old are you?

A Twenty-eight.
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?
A Dita.
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?
Q Certainly.
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

[p. 238]

also had jurisdiction over the coasts of Balayan Bay and Batangas Bay, including the Calumpang Peninsula. To the northeast and west, our area started on the shores of Taal Lake from a point called Mahabang Parang and going down to Barrio Mataasnakahoy to the junction of the road between Lingayen and Pinagtongolan. The boundary followed this road up to San Jose; excluding the area of the town of San Jose, it went down to the Batangas area, down to the shores of Batangas Bay. This was our area.
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.

Again, when I went to Bauan, either on the 14th or the 15th of February, in connection with the removal of some telephone equipment and fixing up of food supplies for the troops there, I was attacked by guerrillas. On my way back from Bauan, the car in which I was riding was suddenly fired upon and one or two soldiers were wounded. One of the soldiers later died. I also sustained a wound

[p. 239]

in the leg. There were also other incidents of communication wires being cut and messengers and other enlisted men on liaison duty would also be frequently attacked.
Q You said you were wounded? Did you get medical attention for that wound?
A Yes.
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?

(Witness complied.)

MR. BERNARD: Let the record show that the accused, Hagino, has shown a scar on his left leg.

[p. 240]

Q Now, what was done about that guerrilla activity, do you know?
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?

[p. 241]

A The expedition commander was First Lieutenant Takemoto.
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.

[p. 242]

I desire that he be recalled so that he could testify to what I have just said. Before that, I had been at one time the platoon leader of the garrison at Bauan. From October 1944 to the middle of December, I was the platoon leader there. I knew many people there and the people knew my name and face. It is possible that when I returned again to Bauan with the expedition, the people took it for granted that I was the one in charge and gave all the orders for all the things that happened there.

COLONEL HAMBY: At this time, the Commission will recess until 0830 hours tomorrow.

(The Commission adjourned at 1500 hours, to reconvene at 0830 hours, 6 February 1947.)

[p. 243]


a witness in his own behalf, testified further as follows, through Interpreters Taccad and Nishihara:



MR. GUTHRIE: Hagino, I will state to you that you are still under oath.

MR. BERNARD: Hagino, during this period of February, 1945, did you ever wear a mustache?

A No.
Q Did Lieutenant Takemoto, during that period, wear a mustache?
A No.

[p. 244]

Q Did you wear glasses or spectacles?
A No.
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?
A No.
Q Were you within the vicinity of the Bautista house in the morning of February 28, 1945, when the explosion occurred?
A No.
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.
Q Proceed.
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.

At nine o’clock, I went to the western part of the town. I crossed the bridge on the road going to Taal and passed the bridge west of the town. There was

[p. 245]

a small barrio there where I bought some food supplies. I left that barrio after buying some food supplies, at about half past nine. I returned to the municipal building at 9:40. At that time, I met Lieutenant Owari again at the municipal building. I reported to Lieutenant Owari that I had gone to buy food supplies and then he told me to go to the town to secure some medical supplies, so I left the municipal building to follow his orders.

I arrived at the church at about 9:50. There, I met the commander of the expedition, Lieutenant Takemoto, and for five minutes I stayed there reporting to him about having gone to buy food supplies, the preparations for the noon meal and other details. I left the church, then, after five minutes.

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.

[p. 246]

I inquired at the doctor’s place for medical supplies. I stayed there for about fifteen minutes.

At last, I was convinced that no medical supplies or equipment were to be obtained in the town of Bauan, so I headed back for the municipal building. I reached the municipal building at 10:55.

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.

[p. 247]

On our way back to the municipal building, we heard an explosion.

At the time I heard the explosion, I had no idea what it was, where the explosion occurred, or what was the case [cause?] of that explosion. However, we proceeded on to the municipal building where I gave orders to my soldiers regarding their further actions because I was leaving for Dita.

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.

[p. 248]

Q Where you on the expedition against Taal?
A Yes.
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

[p. 249]

unit at that point, he went along the main road towards the point where he was to prepare our quarters. I also stayed behind at that point, that is, on the small road branching to the right. I let the main force proceed ahead of me because I had to prepare the next meal. The supplies that the battalion headquarters had provided us consisted only of rice, the rest of our food like vegetables and other viands we had to acquire in the town of Taal and its vicinity. I finished all preparations at 0900 hours. We did not have any cars, American air power was so strong we could not use any vehicles, everything had to be done by manpower or by carts. Then, I followed the main force about one kilometer or one and a half kilometers behind them. I think I heard rifle shots at about 0900 hours. At about 0900 or 0930 hours, a messenger informed us that the main force was engaged in combat and for us to continue foraging. However, it was a very difficult matter to forage for food one kilometer or one and a half kilometers behind a main unit which was engaged in combat. On top of this, about half of the inhabitants of the area were gone and we could not buy any food. I had about ten men with me. At about 1100 hours, since it was impossible to obtain food in this area, I dispersed five men to go to the town of Taal to get food. From then on, I just followed the main force and it was almost impossible to obtain food. It was about 1700 when we returned to the area where we were quartered and after I landed there, I learned from the

[p. 250]

commander of the expedition of the day’s fighting. From him, I learned that the guerrillas were in native homes and they were firing at the unit from there. Therefore, the Japanese forces could not help but engage in combat with them. It was very difficult to dislodge the guerrillas from these homes and it only meant the inflicting of casualties on the Japanese forces, therefore, they were attacked and all who opposed the Japanese forces were killed. At about 0800 of the 17th of February, Lieutenant Takemoto ordered the men in the main unit to proceed to San Nicolas through Taal in order to carry out measures against the guerrillas.
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.

[p. 251]

We were in Taal for approximately an hour and later with the remaining five of my men, I followed the main unit. There were many homes on the road between Taal and San Nicolas and there seemed nothing out of the ordinary. We proceeded to San Nicolas and we attempted to buy provisions on the way, however, we could not. Before we reached San Nicolas, the main unit was returning and we returned together with them to the area where we were quartered and that was approximately 1600 or 1630.

COLONEL HAMBY: The Commission will take a short recess.

(Short recess.)

[The rest of this page was blank.]

[p. 252]

COLONEL HAMBY: The Commission is in session.

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 and my subordinates reached the area in which we were quartered at about 11:30. The main force also returned in the morning. We had our noon meal in the area where we were quartered and after that, the entire unit proceeded to Dita by motor.

I learned later from the expedition commander that there was no fighting on the 17th. He also told me that

[p. 253]

on the 18th, he and the unit he commanded, which was the Sasaki Platoon, a machine gun platoon, engaged in combat. That included everything which took place in the Taal expedition.
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?
A No.

MR. BERNARD: Your witness.

[The cross-examination of the accused Shumpei Hagino is contained here: Testimony of Shumpei Hagino on Charges of Atrocities in Batangas in 1945: Cross-Examination.]

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

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