Yamashita Case Summary

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Case Citation: In re Yamashita, 327 U.S. 1 (1946)
Parties: Petitioner, General Tomoyuki Yamashita Respondent, General Wilhelm Styer Facts: Prior to his surrender to American forces in September of 1945, General Yamashita was the Commanding General for the Japanese Army; he was serving in the Philippines during World War II. Yamashita’s troops were believed to have conducted war crimes while in the Philippines and as their Commanding General the responsibility for the torture, rape, and killings conducted by his men were ultimately his responsibility. On the 3rd of September, Yamashita had to surrender his troops to the U.S. Army. Upon his surrender for war crimes committed by his troops, Yamashita became a prisoner of war.
Procedural History: After
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First, Yamashita was not entitled to any rights under the Articles of war; the Commission that was created was done so by someone with the authority and the competency to do so. The Commission was in compliance with the U.S policy and Constitution and conformed to the specific articles within the Articles of War that were related to the case. Also Yamashita was not entitled to any protections, be them evidentiary or procedural, by the Geneva Convention as it related to judicial proceedings. He was not a prisoner of war at the time these crimes were committed.
Issue 2: Yamashita had command responsibility to ensure law of war was not violated. The purpose of this is to ensure the safety and appropriate operation of troops. A Commanding General is personally responsible for the protection of the civilians and he must be responsible for the subordinates he leads. We see this specifically in the Fourth Hague Convention of 1907. “The law of war presupposes that its violation is to be avoided through the control of the operations of war by commanders who are to some extent responsible for their subordinates.”
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