Far Eastern Commission

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Far Eastern Commission (FEC), which emerged from the Far Eastern Advisory Committee (FEAC), was founded in 1946. In theory, the Washington, DC-based commission was authorized to examine any Asian issue. One of the tasks of the FEC was to create a legal framework that made it possible to atone for war crimes that had been committed against members of the member states' relatives or subjects. In it it was a subsidiary of the United Nations War Crimes Commission . Members were the 11 allied nations that participated in the Pacific War as enemies of Japan. Due to the veto right of the four main warring nations, also represented in the Allied Council for Japan (ACJ), decisions that contradicted the American will, represented in Japan by the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers , were not possible.


The Far Eastern Advisory Committee (FEAC) was formed in October 1945. The actual establishment of the Far Eastern Commission (FEC) took place at the turn of the year 1946 - after the Moscow Conference of Foreign Ministers of December 1945 - with the task of "supreme guideline-making body" in questions of the occupation of Japan - with the participation of all allies, but American dominance be. It was based in the old Japanese embassy in Washington. The constituent meeting took place on Feb. 26, 1946. The first chairman was the American General Frank R. McCoy . There was a steering committee , secretariat and seven working committees: reparations, economics and finance, justice, democratization, war criminals, resident foreigners and demilitarization. With the advent of the Cold War, the organization's activities began to decline noticeably after just two years. During this time, 46 political decisions were made, most of which confirmed actions taken by SCAP. With the imminent conclusion of the San Francisco peace treaty , the organization no longer had any right to exist.

A sub-committee of the United Nations War Crimes Commission (UNWCC) had been engaged in May 1944 as the organization initially with the collection of information from war crimes in China. After reorganization, the newly created Committee No. 5: Was Criminals, based in Chungking, that job. The prosecution of war criminals became the FEC's most effective field of activity, as real power over the occupation of Japan rested with the SCAP's office and MacArthur was unwilling to allow himself to be intruded into matters of actual occupation policy. For the duration of its existence the chairman of this working committee was a (national) Chinese, the deputies were Filipinos, initially FC Rodriguez , who was then succeeded by JU Jovellanos .

Member countries were all nations that had signed the Japanese document of surrender, i.e. the USA as a participant in the war and representative of its overseas possessions in the Pacific, France (for its colony of Indochina), the Netherlands (for the Dutch East Indies ), Great Britain, which also had its colonies represented. In addition, the Dominions of Canada, New Zealand, India and Australia, which also acted as the mandate power for New Guinea , and also China, represented by the Kuomintang regime, which increasingly became a client state of the USA. Other members were the Soviet Union and the Philippines , which were recognized as full members before their independence in July 1946. Burma and Pakistan later joined.

War crimes trials

The FEC itself did not conduct any war crimes trials, but only laid down general guidelines. In addition, the framework conditions were created for exchanging information on war crimes. The first general guideline was issued on April 3, 1946 under the title Apprehension, Trial and Punishment of War Criminals in the Far East . The further development of international law in the case against General Tomoyuki Yamashita ( command responsibility - Commander accountability ) and the Major War Criminals in Nuremberg flowed with one. In contrast to the European theater of war, the specifications were designed in such a way that only crimes against subjects of the member countries were investigated in the context of acts of war in the broadest sense.

Category A war criminals

The International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMFTE) was created in Tokyo to carry out the proceedings from May 3, 1946 against the 28 accused category A war criminals , to which a judge and a public prosecutor from each member country belonged. In advance, at the suggestion of SCAP, he also classified the accused war criminals into categories A ( those primarily responsible) as well as B (conventional war crimes) and C (crimes against humanity).

On March 16, 1949, it was decided that no further trials should be conducted against category A war criminals after the Americans had established facts three months beforehand with the release of all suspects in this category who were still in custody.

Category B and C war criminals

The prosecution and punishment of Japanese war criminals of categories B and C (Japanese BC 級 戦 犯 ) or their helpers was the responsibility of the individual countries in their domains. However, the Anglo-Saxon allies in particular supported each other in investigations. For this purpose, War Crimes Sections were created in Singapore (Dec. 1945) and Tokyo (Feb. 1946) . Sometimes officers of several nations sat in the courts-martial when their respective citizens had been victims. All procedural guidelines have in common that they do not allow the defense of a defendant to act “on higher orders” (i.e. in an emergency ). Furthermore, the principles of assessment of evidence were weakened compared to peacetime.

However, each country was free to carry out the procedure according to its own rules, although the Americans (SCAP) and British in particular leaned on the directive of May 3, 1946. There were sometimes different definitions of what should be considered a war crime. So stood z. For example, cannibalism has been on the list of crimes punishable by the Australian-directed war crimes trials in New Guinea from the very beginning . The regulations issued by the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, valid for the negotiations in Manila , Yokohama (under the direction of the 8th US Army) and on Guam ( US Navy ), did not initially cover this. French courts-martial in Saigon ruled according to the provisions of the Code pénal and Code de Justice Militaire for times of war. The war crimes trials in the Dutch East Indies took place under a specially created special law.

One of the recommendations of the FEC was that, after June 30, 1949, no new processes should begin and all proceedings should be completed by September 30, in exceptional cases by the end of the year. Not only the Soviet Union, whose only trial in Khabarovsk took place in December, but also the Philippines and Australia failed to meet this deadline. The Australians were threatened that the suspects in Sugamo prison would be released in November 1949 if they could not be tried soon. Therefore, between June 1950 and May 1951, the last 113 defendants were brought to the island of Manus and tried.

See also


  • Far Eastern Commission: Activities Report… . Washington DC (Government Printer)
  1. February 26, 1946 - July 10, 1947 . 1947 (Publication 2888)
  2. July 10, 1947 - Dec. 23, 1948 . 1949 (Publication 3420)
  3. Dec. 24, 1948 - June 30, 1950 . 1950 (Publication 3945)
  • Records of the Far Eastern Commission, 1945–1952. Guide to the microfilm edition . Scholarly Resources, Wilmington, Del. 1992, ISBN 0-8420-4139-7 .
  • George Blakeslee: Far Eastern Commission. A Study in International Cooperation 1945–1952 . Washington DC 1953
  • Thomas Burkman (Ed.): The Occupation of Japan. The International Context . MacArthur Memorial Foundation, Norfolk, VA 1984
  • Philip Piccigallo: The Japanese on Trial . University of Texas Press, Austin 1979, ISBN 0-292-78033-8 .
  • Keith Stuart Webster: Canada and the Far Eastern Commission . University of Victoria BC, 2007 (MA Thesis; PDF )

Individual evidence

  1. Lanza, Conrad; Perimeters in Paragraphs: Japan; The Field Artillery Journal, May 1946, p. 304.
  2. cf. to the history of origin: Nishida Satoshi: The reconstruction of the Japanese economy after the Second World War. American Policy on Japan and Post-War Economic Reforms in Japan 1942–1952 . Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart 2007, ISBN 978-3-515-09056-8 , pp. 115-20.
  3. cf. Agreement of Foreign Ministers at Moscow establishing Far Eastern Commission and Allied Council for Japan, Dec. 27, 1945; in: Political Reorientation of Japan Part II-A, p. 421.
  4. cf. Burdick, Charles; The Expulsion of Germans from Japan 1947-1948;
  5. ^ Nishida (2007), p. 122.
  6. ^ British Foreign Office: Japan Correspondence 1949–1951: Year 1949, File 1016, Doc. 2251-2, p. 25-8 and Doc 2302, p. 49
  7. ^ British Foreign Office: Japan Correspondence 1949–1951: Year 1949, File 1016, Doc. 430, p.90 and Doc 1591, p. 40
  8. ^ Far Eastern Commission; in: International Organization Vol. 3 (1949), № 2, p. 381.