The Tokyo Shimbun reported on Monday the discovery of official U.S. documents, which detail how the American military scattered in the ocean the cremated remains of Hideki Tojo and six other Class A war criminals of Japan executed after their death sentences by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East following World War II.
According to the Tokyo Shimbun, the declassified documents of the Eighth Army, discovered by Hiroaki Takazawa, associate professor at Nihon University College of Industrial Technology, at the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, contain such details. This is the first time to identify how the remains of Class A war criminals were disposed of through official documents. Class A war criminals are those who plan, initiate, and execute a war of aggression in violation of international treaties, which is considered to be the heaviest war crime.
The official documents were written during the U.S. occupation of Japan after the Pacific War. The Eighty Army was headquartered in Yokohama back then. Maj. Luther Frierson who was in charge of the site wrote an Eighth Army document that the paper is "a detailed account of the activities of the undersigned in connection with the execution and final disposition of remains of seven war criminals."
The execution of seven Class A war criminals took place after midnight on Dec. 22, 1948, at Sugamo Prison in Tokyo. The bodies were taken to Yokohama for cremation, and the remains were moved to the airstrip of the Eighth Army afterward. "We proceeded to a point approximately 30 miles over the Pacific Ocean east of Yokohama where I personally scattered the cremated remains over a wide area," Frierson wrote in the document.
It was speculated that the remains of Class A war criminals must have been scattered in the Pacific Ocean or Tokyo Bay, as they were not returned to their family members. It was considered as a secret of Emperor Showa’s period, but now how their remains were disposed of was revealed through the Eighth Army documents.
Regarding the disposals of the remains, Chief of the Diplomatic Section at the General Headquarters of the Allied Powers (GHQ) William Sebald who witnessed the execution of Class A war criminals along with Maj. Frierson wrote in his book that the cremated remains would have been scattered to prevent potential deification of their graves.
Unlike the GHQ’s intention, however, the ancestral tablets of 14 Class A war criminals, including Tojo, were moved to Yasukuni Shrine in Chiyoda, Tokyo in 1978 and held sacred even now. Right-wingers, including former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, visit Yasukuni Shrine to pay respects and send tributes for Victory over Japan Day and spring and fall ancestral rites.