Testimony of Zenichiro Mogami on Charges of Atrocities in Batangas in 1945: Cross Examination - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore Testimony of Zenichiro Mogami on Charges of Atrocities in Batangas in 1945: Cross Examination - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

Testimony of Zenichiro Mogami on Charges of Atrocities in Batangas in 1945: Cross Examination

This page contains the transcription of the testimony of one of the accused, Zenichiro Mogami, 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. Because of the length of the testimony, the transcription has been broken down into two parts by Batangas History, Culture and Folklore. This part contains the cross examination of the witness by the prosecution along with an examination of the same by the Military Commission and a re-cross examination by the prosecution.

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. 293]


Q Mogami, do you recall writing in your own handwriting a paper which you entitled “Interrogation Memoir by Sergeant Mogami, Zenichiro?”
A Yes.
Q Do you have that with you?
A Yes, I have.
Q Will you produce it, please?

(Witness complied by handing the prosecutor, Mr. Guthrie, a small paper pamphlet.)

MR. GUTHRIE: May the record show that the witness has produced a document in Japanese characters.

I now offer in evidence as the prosecution’s next exhibit, No. 16, a translation of that document and will state to the Commission that I will not offer the original but it is here available for whatever purposes required by counsel or the Commission in this trial.

MR. MORRISON: I should like to ask counsel a question, if the commission please?


MR. MORRISON: Is this statement, does it have anything to do with the one which you previously submitted into evidence and which was purportedly signed by Mogami?

MR. GUTHRIE: This is a different statement.

MR. MORRISON: I object to the statement, sir, on the ground that there is nothing in it to say that the accused was advised of his rights against self-

[p. 294]

incrimination; on the ground that the statement, this English translation is not signed by the accused, and I further object to any use of this statement to implicate others mentioned in it on the ground that a confession or an admission against interest of one person cannot be used to implicate others which are mentioned in that statement and I believe a recent ruling came down to that effect. The statement, the translation has not been signed by the accused.

MR. GUTHRIE: I call the attention of the Commission to the answer of the witness that the original statement is in his own handwriting and that he wrote it.

MR. MORRISON: If the Commission please, I would like to know whether that statement was made after the accused was served with charges or before, and if so, how long before he was served with charges?

MR. GUTHRIE: It was given to me by the accused at least ten days before he was served with charges.

MR. MORRISON: At least ten days before he was served with charges. Did you advise the accused of his rights against self-incrimination when you took that statement?

MR. GUTHRIE: No, I didn’t. I offer the exhibit.

COLONEL HAMBY: There has been an objection.

MR. BONDA: May I be heard on the one phrase of it, of binding the one accused by a confession made by

[p. 295]

another? We had that up in a case being tried in the High Commissioner’s Residence now. There was a ruling made in the Tojo case and we wired for information on the ruling and we have received a wire back. Of course, on Commission is not bound by whatever another Commission does. The only precedent we have in these cases is what the other rulings have been and they have been held that one cannot be bound, or one cannot bind another accused by a confession made by another accused, that confession is binding against the person making that confession but it does not bind another accused and that no portion of the confession that involves another accused is admissible into evidence. I have that telegram and there has been a request for clarification by the Staff Judge Advocate. The telegram which comes from Tokyo is not authentic but it is very clear and before the ruling on this instrument is made, I would like to present a copy of that telegram to the Commission and I would like to have them reserve their ruling until they see it and all other confessions that have been admitted, I would like to have a change in the ruling insofar as it affects the other accused mentioned in the confession of one accused being binding as to another accused. I can get that within fifteen minutes.

MR. GUTHRIE: May I ask Mr. Bonda through the Commission whether he contends that the document is not admissible as to the accused Mogami, regardless of what weight is to be given to it by the Commission in the cases against the other accused.

[p. 296]

MR. BONDA: It is binding against the accused.

COLONEL HAMBY: The Commission will not accept this exhibit of the prosecution at this time and the defense is directed to produce those communications that you have referred to and later in this trial, the prosecutor may offer into evidence this purported statement.

MR. BONDA: The prosecutor has just now handed me a copy of the same telegram, we had a lot of them run off and I think this is one of them. I don’t know whether the Communication from the Staff Judge Advocate has been received or not, I will find that out immediately, but that is a copy of the telegram on which I based the statement I made just now.

COLONEL HAMBY: The prosecutor will withdraw the offer of this exhibit at this time and proceed with the examination of the witness.

Q Mogami, I will direct your attention to the testimony of Hagino given in this case to the effect that at the Taal expedition, you were the commanding officer of the mop-up units.
A No, I did not.

[p. 297]

Q Did you have any detachment of enlisted men under you in the Taal expedition?
A Yes.
Q What were the orders that you received as to what you and your detachment were to do the first thing, in the Taal expedition?
A The security of the right flank.
Q What measures were you directed to take?
A We were to protect the right flank of the main force of the unit while it was advancing.
Q Were you instructed in your orders what to do in case any Filipinos attempted to leave Taal?
A Are you referring to the city itself?
Q Yes, the city itself.
A No, I did not.
Q You heard the testimony of Owari as to what the order to the expedition was and he testified as follows:

“Orders were to kill all guerrillas and those who cooperated with them.”

You heard the testimony of Ichimura:

“The orders stated that punitive measures were to be carried out against the guerrillas and all other persons cooperating with them. However, it also stated that those other than guerrillas and those cooperating with them, must not be touched.”

Do you recall that testimony?

A Yes.
Q Did you ever make a statement in these words, referring to the Taal expedition:

[p. 298]

“Saw two or three natives fleeing on the first day. Some of the troops fired upon them, but missed so we made no further attempts to pursue them.”

Did you make that statement?

A Yes.
Q And that statement is the truth?
A I shall clarify that statement. At that time, there was a messenger from Lieutenant Takemoto. While I was speaking with him, a soldier standing approximately ten meters away from me fired a shot. I asked him what it was. He reported that it was a guerrilla. That was when I first noticed two or three natives. They were approximately six hundred to seven hundred meters in front of us. At that time, when I first saw them, they must have been frightened by the shot and were about to disappear. It may be taken to mean as if I discovered the natives and then had them fired upon, but that was not the case.
Q Do you have any way of identifying guerrillas at a distance of six hundred or seven hundred meters?
A It was not my estimation. It was the estimation of one of my soldiers.
Q Then what did you tell your soldiers about firing at natives in the future, if anything?
A I did not say anything.
Q Did you see anyone who had been killed in the Taal expedition?
A Yes.
Q Was that the first day or when was it?

[p. 299]

A I saw some on the first day.
Q How many?
A I believe about two.
Q Were those guerrillas or were they non-combatants?

MR. MORRISON: Objected to, if the Commission please, unless this witness was present at the time these men were killed, there is no way that he has of knowing whether they were guerrillas or not. The only way a person can determine if a man is a guerrilla is while that man is alive and what he does while he is alive, not when he is dead.

MR. GUTHRIE: Well, these accused purport to be guerrilla experts. Maybe he can.

COLONEL HAMBY: The Law Member will rule.

COLONEL POBLETE: Objection sustained. Rephrase your question.

MR. GUTHRIE: Did you see any dead guerrillas?

MR. MORRISON: Objected to, if the Commission please, on the same ground.

COLONEL HAMBY: The Law Member will rule.

COLONEL POBLETE: Objection sustained.

MR. GUTHRIE: Did you see anyone that had been killed during the three days of the Taal expedition?

A Yes.
Q Did you see any bodies of very small babies who had been recently killed?
A No.
Q Did you see the bodies of any old men who had been recently killed?

[p. 300]

A No.
Q How many bodies altogether did you see during the three days of the Taal operation?
A Just what I have mentioned before.
Q And during those three days, the main force of the expedition and yourself passed through the town several times, did it not?
A We made one trip through and back from Taal.
Q And that was on the morning of the third day, was it not?
A It was the second day.
Q And at that time, up to that time, you said you had only seen, was it two or three dead bodies?
A The only time I saw any bodies was on the first day, as I have mentioned previously.
Q Are you as sure of your other statements as you are of the last statement?
A Yes.
Q Do you remember what the strength of the expedition to Bauan was?
A I do not know for sure.
Q Tell as closely as you can approximately how many men and officers went on that expedition.
A I believe there might have been over a hundred.
Q And how many men were in your unit?
A Six men.
Q When did you arrive at Bauan, what hour?
A About 0500.
Q And at what time did the expedition enter the town?

[p. 301]

A I am not sure of this, but I believe it was about 0830.
Q What part in that operation were you directed to take?
A I was ordered by Lieutenant Takemoto to be responsible for the security of the area to the rear of the municipal building?
Q Is that the only thing you were directed to do?
A No.
Q What else were you directed to do?
A I was ordered to make rounds of inspections of the sentries posted in the town.
Q And what else were you ordered to do?
A I was also ordered to send Corporal Kawaguchi and three men immediately to Lieutenant Takemoto.
Q And were you ordered to do anything else?
A No.
Q Well, in your statement, you say that at one time, you received some orders to search houses. Does that refresh your recollection?
A No, there was no such thing.
Q Will you refer to your interrogation memoir and see if you do not see an entry B-0900, “Patrols the streets for guerrillas in accordance to orders. We searched two or three houses which appeared to be suspicious but did not find any.”

(Interpreter Nishihara offered document in question to the witness and a discussion in Japanese took place.)

[p. 302]

MR. MORRISON: At this point, if the Commission please, may I request that what the witness has previously stated be translated?

COLONEL HAMBY: So ordered.

A The gist of the order I received is as follows: Sentries posted from the machine gun company were posted on the southeastern portion of the town. They were attacked by guerrillas. Because there was the fear of the guerrillas being in the town, I, Sergeant Mogami, was ordered to take a tour of inspections of the town and to ascertain whether or not there were any guerrillas.

[p. 303]


A Due to the constant attacks by American airplanes, my men and I were separated by some distance. While making this inspection, one of them reported to me that a couple of houses looked rather suspicious, thereupon I ordered an inspection of these houses, but upon entering them found nothing suspicious.
Q Did you direct your men what to do in case they did find a guerrilla?
A I told them to report the fact to me. That means if anything unusual happened, to report it to me during the inspection.
Q Did they report anything unusual to you during the day?
A There was nothing other than what I have mentioned previously.
Q Did they report anything to you about any occurrences in a funeral parlor?
A No, there was not.

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

(Short recess.)

COLONEL HAMBY: The Commission is in session.

Q Where do you say you were when the explosion in the Bautista house took place?
A I was in the rear of the Municipal Building.
Q How far is that from the Bautista house?
A I am not certain, but about, it is somewhere about 350 meters.

[p. 304]

Q Did you hear the explosion?
A Yes.
Q Well, I’ll direct your attention that in your statement, you said that you didn’t hear the explosion because there was an American airplane going overhead and you were holding your fingers in your ears. Does that refresh your recollection?
A Yes, I remember that.
Q And so you didn’t hear the explosion?
A When I made that statement, it was an error in my recollection.
Q Have you discovered other errors in your recollection about what happened at Bauan?
A I believe there might be others.
Q One of those errors was when you told Captain Peoples that you, yourself, ignited the fuse that exploded the dynamite, is that so?

MR. MORRISON: Objected to. In this statement, the witness said that he told someone previously that he was the one who ignited the fuse. In the statement, he denies it and gives the reason.

MR. GUTHRIE: There is nothing before the Court to rule on.

MR. MORRISON: The exhibit is in evidence, if the Commission please.

MR. GUTHRIE: There is nothing pending.

MR. MORRISON: There is an objection before the Court, if the Commission please.

COLONEL HAMBY: The Law Member will rule.

[p. 305]

COLONEL POBLETE: Objection overruled, witness may answer.

A Yes.

MR. GUTHRIE: That is all.


Q Did you state in that statement:
“Q Did you have an interview with Captain Peoples and Sergeant Motoyoshi?
“A I talked with the captain and an interpreter. “Q Did you tell them at that time that you set off the dynamite in the building at Bauan, that you used a box and a half of dynamite, that you set it off by lighting a fuse with a match, that you set the dynamite on the upper floor in a building in which they had Filipinos, and that you were ordered to do that by Lieutenant Takemoto?
“A Yes.
“Q Now from your story, you deny this?
“A Yes, sir, I denied it also when I saw the captain a second time. When I told this story, I did not tell the truth. I thought as men from my platoon had done this, I was responsible for it and that was the reason I told this story. On thinking it over, I decided to tell the truth.
“Q How were you able to give all the details of this incident if you were not present?
“A Corporal Kawaguchi reported to me and told me all these things. Also, I am familiar with dynamite and I

[p. 306]

knew from the equipment we had that it would have to be set off by using a match.”

Did you not also state that in the statement?

MR. GUTHRIE: I will stipulate that he did.

MR. MORRISON: Then counsel fails to see the purpose of the prosecutor’s former question. No further questions.

MR. GUTHRIE: No questions.

COLONEL HAMBY: Questions by members of the Commission?


Q Will you describe the location of the Municipal Building in Bauan?

INTERPRETER NISHIHARA: Sir, may I have a diagram drawn by the witness, it will be easier for me to explain it to the Commission. He is indicating something in the area.

COLONEL HAMBY: It is liable to be a little difficult, isn’t it?

INTERPRETER NISHIHARA: The way he is doing it now, it is rather complicated, sir.


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

(Short recess.)

COLONEL HAMBY: The Commission is in session.

A This is the junction of the three roads, this circle indicates the assembly area and this is the bridge

[p. 307]

leading to Bauan, this is the town itself, and the Municipal Building is located to the north of this road and it was on the northern extremity of Bauan. (As indicated on a sketch drawn by the witness.)
Q Will you indicate on that same sketch the location of the church?
A The church is directly south of the Municipal Building and it is to the south of the road.

[p. 308]

COLONEL LAWHON: Is this municipal building, to which you refer, the same as the courthouse to which you referred in your statement, Prosecution Exhibit No. 15?

A I have never mentioned anything of a courthouse. I have always said the municipal building. The fact that I was by the municipal building can be testified to by Lieutenant Owari. He made an inspection at about 1100 and he saw me there. Later, Owari – Lieutenant Owari and Hagino together called me over and informed me that they were going back to Dita because the situation had changed due to the activities of the American ships in Batangas Bay. They asked me to take care of matters near the municipal building because there were several members of headquarters still stationed there. Lieutenant Owari and Lieutenant Hagino can testify to this fact.
Q Did you see members of the Kobayashi Platoon on sentry duty at this municipal building?
A Yes.
Q Did you see Warrant Officer Kobayashi at the municipal building?
A No, I did not see him at the municipal building. However, when I was making my inspection, I saw him on a corner.

COLONEL POBLETE: Will you name the barrios you passed by, or stopped at in the Taal expedition?

A All I know is the town of Taal. I do not remember the names of barrios through which we passed.
Q Did you come to or near a ravine in the Taal expedition?

[p. 309]

A Yes, we did, but it was not a very deep one.
Q Did you see Filipinos in that ravine?
A No.
Q Did you come to or near a sugarcane plantation in the Taal expedition?
A I do not remember.
Q In the town of Bauan, on February 28, 1945, when you patrolled the town, did you see the house of Bautista?
A I do not know the name of any houses there at all. I passed many houses on my inspection, but I did not know which was the Bautista house.
Q After February 28, 1945, did anybody tell you about the Bautista house?
A Yes, I heard it from my subordinate, Corporal Kawaguchi.
Q During your inspection of the town that same day, did you come near a house where there were plenty of Filipino people?
A No, I did not.
Q Do you know where the people went from the church in the morning of that date?
A No, I do not.
Q Do you know if the Filipino people were assembled in the church on that morning?
A During my inspection, I saw some Filipinos in the church through a doorway.
Q Were there many or few?
A From what I could see through the doorway, I did not see very many.
Q Did you see from where you were where they were going?

[p. 310]

A Are you referring to an area within the church?
Q No, repeat the question.

(Question read by the reporter.)

INTERPRETER NISHIHARA: He does not seem to understand the question, sir.

COLONEL POBLETE: I will withdraw the question. At what time did you hear the explosion on that date?

A I believe that it was about 11:40


COLONEL READ: Did you, in your patrolling, see any house that showed evidence of being dynamited?

A No, did not during my inspection.
Q As a leader of the engineer platoon, did any of your men have dynamite in their possession on or about the 28th of February, 1945?
A Yes, they had it for the purpose of anti-tank warfare.
Q Were the troops given a resupply of dynamite about the 28th, indicating they had used some?
A No.
Q On your patrols, did you see any house burning or having been burned?
A No, I did not.

COLONEL HAMBY: You have stated that you were not at the Bautista house. Witness Leynes and Witness Abrenica have stated that they saw you in this house just prior to the explosion. If your statement is correct, why would these witnesses state what they have?

A I believe it is a mistake of Corporal Kawaguchi or some other man.

[p. 311]

COLONEL HAMBY: Any questions by the defense?

MR. MORRISON: No, sir.

COLONEL HAMBY: By the prosecution?


Q What was the rating of Kawaguchi?
A Corporal.
Q Did corporals in the Japanese Army carry sabers?
A No.
Q Was Corporal Kawaguchi carrying a saber on February 28, 1945?
A No.
Q Do you look like Corporal Kawaguchi?
A If we are called to be similar, well our height is about the same, our face are both long and we are about the same built, that is, we are slim.
Q This corner where you said you saw Kobayashi had a light pole there, is that not true?
A I do not remember.
Q And on one side of the street where you saw him is located a barbershop is that not true?
A I do not remember a barbershop.
Q And do you remember that there was a funeral parlor on the opposite side of the street?
A I do not know.
Q You were the commanding officer of the labor platoon, isn’t that true?
A Yes.
Q And you have stated that you are very familiar with

[p. 312]

the use of dynamite?

MR. MORRISON: Objected to. The witness did not state that he was very familiar with dynamite.

MR. GUTHRIE: I submit that counsel himself read the statement of this witness, in which he said that he was familiar with the use of dynamite, not more than thirty minutes ago.

MR. MORRISON: I will withdraw that, sir, and I agree with Mr. Guthrie that the witness did say that in his statement.

MR. GUTHRIE: You were probably the man, the one man in that unit, who was the most familiar with dynamite and how to detonate it is that not true?

A No, for the use of dynamite special training is received and not all members of a labor platoon receive such training. Corporal Kawaguchi had received specialized training in dynamite and other explosives from the company commander ever since the days in Manchuria. He had also spent some time with the engineers learning about them. I usually had him take care of work of that nature.
Q But you have ignited, or detonated, dynamite yourself while you were in the Japanese Army, is that not true?
A No, I have never done it.
Q Well, then that is another error in your recollection of these matters because you stated once that you were very familiar with dynamite.
A No, I know of the general use of dynamite and explosives from [the] studying of manuals. Corporal Kawaguchi also informed and instructed me of their uses after his special training.

[p. 313]

The labor unit, or the labor company, is an organization which was organized about one or two months prior to our departure for the Philippines from Manchuria and the men in the labor units were not specialized in engineering work. Our knowledge of such things was very shallow. However, platoon leaders and company commanders knew of the use of explosives in general.

[p. 314]

Q Well, you described once how dynamite was detonated and you do not deny now that you know how to detonate dynamite and did know how to detonate it on February 28, 1945.
A Yes, of course.

MR. GUTHRIE: That is all.

MR. MORRISON: At this time, may the record show that the witness did not state that he was very familiar with dynamite; the witness in Exhibit 15 stated as follows: “Also, I am familiar with dynamite and I knew from what equipment we had that it would have to be set off by using a match.”

I have no further questions.

MR. GUTHRIE: Nothing further.

COLONEL HAMBY: The witness is excused.

(Witness excused.)

[Click this link to read the first part of this transcription: Testimony of Zenichiro Mogami on Charges of Atrocities in Batangas in 1945: Direct Examination]

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 Zenichiro Mogami 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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