China / Society

Witness recalls trial of Japanese war criminals 60 years ago

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-06-10 07:31

SHENYANG - Guo Chunlai will never forget the day when he saw Japanese war criminals repent on a Chinese court 60 years ago.

"I filed lawsuit against these Japanese on behalf of my country and compatriots and I felt proud," the 91-year-old man, then a prosecutor, said on Thursday.

On June 9, 1956, eight Japanese stood open trials at a special military tribunal in Shenyang, capital of northeast China's Liaoning Province, including Suzuki Keiku.

Suzuki Keiku was assistant commander of the 28th Infantry Regiment and later lieutenant general and commander of the 117th Division in the Japanese army invading China during WWII, who gave orders of slaughtering more than 2,200 Chinese peasants, burning down thousands of houses and luring Chinese and Koreans to serve as "comfort women."

"It was the first time since the Opium War when Chinese people tried foreign invaders independently," Guo said.

Facts of the offense must be supported by five kinds of evidence: records of the trial, accounts of the defendants, witness' accounts, historical files and proof of other defendants.

"All the Japanese pleaded guilty, some repenting, even kneeling down and begging for death penalty," Guo said.

According to Li Minghua, deputy director of the State Archives Administration, there were 1,109 Japanese war criminals in custody in China between 1950 and 1956. Among them, 1,017 with minor offenses were exempted from prosecution and released.

The decision of giving open trials to 45 of the rest in special military tribunals under the Supreme People's Court was made in April, 1956.

Between July 1 and 20 that year, another 28 Japanese were tried in Shenyang, including Rokusashi Takebe who once served as chief of general affairs of the "Manchukuo," a Japanese-backed puppet state in Northeast China and Inner Mongolia between 1932 and 1945.

Nine others stood trials in Taiyuan, capital of north China's Shanxi province.

None of the 45 war criminals were sentenced to death. They received jail terms of eight to 10 years.

"The result was beyond their expectation," Guo said. "After they returned Japan, most of these people became advocators of Sino-Japanese friendship. Some spent the rest of their lives promoting peace."

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