LIBERATION Guam Remembers
A Golden Salute for the 50th anniversary of the Liberation of Guam
Four charges of cannibalism upon
American prisoners brought a death sentence by hanging to Major Sueo
Matoba, shown here on trial. War trials and 13 executions by hanging
were held in Guam after the war.
Guam site of Pacific war trials
Closely guarded by two Marines, vice
Admiral Koso Abe awaits trial in Guam. He was accused of beheading nine
On the crest of Nimitz Hill, within Fleet Admiral
Nimitz's Pacific Command Headquarters complex, there once existed a
large quonset hut in which the Military Commission for Japanese War
Crimes held its Pacific region trials. Of the 144 military and civilian
war criminals, 136 were found guilty. Of these 136, 111 were convicted
of murder in addition to other offenses. Five were found guilty of
permitting subordinates to commit atrocities against prisoners of war;
14 were convicted of torture, cruelty or maltreatment of prisoners; two
were convicted of cannibalism and several others of the mutilation of
dead prisoners of war.
Among those convicted of war crimes were two
lieutenant generals, two rear admirals, five vice admirals and the
commanding officers of the Marshalls, Marianas, Gilbert, Bonin, Palau and
Thirty-six death sentences were handed out 20
of which were commuted to life imprisonment and one to 16-year sentence.
Sixteen life sentences were passed out. Twenty-four individuals were
sentenced to 10-15 years of hard labor, and the remaining 60 were
sentenced to less than five years in prison.
Thirteen death sentences were actually carried out by
hanging, inside a quonset hut constructed for that purpose. The gallows
site is located on what is now the Federal Aviation Administration
complex adjacent to the Navy Computer and Telecommunications Area Master
Station. Those sentenced to life imprisonment were transferred to Sugamo
Prison in Tokyo.
Editor's note: Navy Capt. Joseph Commette provided
information for this article.