Trial of Fukuoka 3-B Camp Commander

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Headquarters Eighth ArmyUnited States ArmyOffice of the Staff Judge AdvocateAPO 343United States of America vs Yaichi Rikitake

Yaichi RikitakeAge 62Married, 4 childrenProfessional soldierJoined Imperial Japanese Army 1905, commissioned 26 Dec 1917, retired 11 May 1933, assumed command of Prisoner of War Camp No. 3, Kokuro, Fukuoka, Kyushu, Japan on 6 Mar 1944

.Found guilty of the following charges:Violation of the laws and customs of war between 1 Mar 44 and 15 Aug 45 as commanding officer of PW Camp No.3, Kokuro, Fukuoka, Kyushu, Japan by committing cruel and brutal atrocities against PWs, and failing to control, and permitting, members of his command to commit cruel and brutal atrocities and other offenses against PWs.Failed to provide adequate medical care for American and Allied PWs, by compelling PWs to perform arduous labor when ill, as a result of which approximately one hundred fifty died.Failed to provide PWs with proper and adequate clothing.Failed to discharge his duties as C.O. to control and restrain persons under his command and control by permitting them to commit cruel and brutal atrocities against PWs.About 14 May 1944, mistreat and torture Bill Cash, one Woodall and Thomas Armitage, American PWs, by beating with clubs, "water cure", and lighted cigarettes against cuticle of fingers.About December 1944, mistreat and torture Ozella, Ray Wheeler and other American PWs.About February 1945, mistreat and torture two American and two Dutch PWs by beating them.About February 1945, mistreat and torture Robert Snyder.About 10 March 1945, mistreat and torture Joseph Carbonaro.April 1945, torture and cause the death of Ray Wheeler by forcing him to work when he was seriously ill.May 1945, brutally mistreat Sullivan, by beating and kicking him.June 1945, mistreat one McCoy, American PW.Between 1 Mar 44 and 15 Aug 45, mistreat Frank Destefan, American PW, by beating.Mistreat and torture Pickle, July 45; Donald, June or July 1944; Berg, June 1945; Barham, January 1945; Garman, June 1945; Martin, September 1944.Between 1 Mar 44 and 15 Aug 45, mistreat PWs by punishing groups of prisoners for the alleged offenses of individuals.June 1945, mistreat Pvt Browning by beating with stick.March 1945, mistreat M/Sgt Jacob Greenwald by beating, which caused a broken chestbone.February 1945, mistreat Tonnie Vinson, S 2ndC US Navy by beating.Was found Not Guilty of: 5 Nov 44, mistreat and contribute to death of one Nuese, American PW, by beating with heavy tongs.

(Max Nuese was a North China Marine who died at Fukuoka 3-B 13 December 1944.)

Accused was found guilty of 20 charges and not guilty of 22.In summarizing the evidence the prosecution stated:

During this period of time the accused failed to provide proper medical care for prisoners who were sick by refusing them the use of medicines and surgical instruments which were available at the camp. American medical officers were helpless to treat sick prisoners and were required to perform operations with hacksaws and other crude tools when proper medicines and surgical instruments were supplied by the Red Cross and were, in fact, stored in the warehouses in the camp. Prisoners were required to perform "heavy" work when they were diseased and unfit to perform any work. As a result of these two causes, many prisoners of war died during the accuseds tenure of office.

(This chart is not from the trial records. For your information only.)

POW Camp Districts: Number of Sub-Camps, Internees and Deaths (August 15, 1945)

POW Camp

Period of Operation

Base Camps





12/26/42 - 9/10/45




181 (11%)


4/45 - 9/45




60 (1.6%)


9/12/42 - 8/30/45




667 (11%)


4/45 - 9/45




43 (1.3%)


9/21/42 - 9/45




1,076 (25%)


4/45 - 9/45




45 (1.5%)


1/14/42 - 9/45




1,343 (13%)





3,415 (10.5%)

Following information is again from the trial transcripts: Prisoners were required to live and work in wholly inadequate clothing as a result of which many contracted pneumonia and died. Additional clothing was available and was found stored in the warehouse subsequent to the surrender. On 3 days each month prisoners were permitted to exchange worn out clothing. At the exchange line, a Japanese guard stood and regularly beat and mistreated prisoners who were waiting to exchange clothing so that the prisoners, in time, came to prefer to go without rather than withstand the beatings. The accused witnessed these beatings in the clothing exchange line but took no steps to stop them.

Prisoners were beaten daily by the guards with their fists and sticks; were required to stand at attention for long periods of time and to stand in cold water or have water thrown on them during the winter time. While some of the beatings took place in the accuseds absence, he witnessed many of them and took no steps to correct the existing situation. The accused personally slapped of hit the prisoners with his fists.

Cash, Woodall, and Armitage, American prisoners of war, were severely beaten by camp guards and given the "water cure". The beatings were administered with clubs and each of the prisoners was knocked to the ground several times. The water cure consisted of lashing a prisoner to a stretcher and then propping the stretcher against a wall so that the prisoners head was down and his feet extended toward the ceiling. Water would then be poured in the prisoners nostrils until he lost consciousness after which he would be revived and beaten further. Hot pokers and lighted cigarettes were applied to various parts of Cashs body.

I December of 1944, Ozella, Wheeler, and two other prisoners were found playing cards in the barracks in violation of orders. They were stripped of clothing, taken in front of the guard house and required to hold a 65-100 pound weight over their heads while they underwent severe beatings for 4 hours. They were struck and kicked about the legs and groin and cold water was thrown on them.

In February 1945, 2 American and 2 Dutch prisoners of war were found with food they had purchased from a Japanese civilian. All four prisoners were stripped of clothing and made to stand in a tank of cold water for 3 hours during which time they had to stand on their toes in order to keep their noses above water. They were then put in the guard house for several days and, upon their release, they gave evidence of having been beaten while in confinement.

In January 1945, Snyder, an American PW who, at that time, was on the sick list, was caught talking to an officer at night outside his barracks. Snyder was taken outside the guard house and required to sit on his feet and hold a heavy iron bar over his head while, for 1 ½ hours, he underwent a severe beating with sticks and axe handles. Lighted cigarettes were placed in his nostril and ears. At that time Snyder had a fever of about 102 degrees and the temperature was below freezing.

In early 1945, Carbonaro, an American PW, was caught attempting to trade a watch for food. He was stripped of his clothing and beaten with clubs. Cold water was thrown on his naked body after which he was put in the guard house for 10 days.

Wheeler, an American PW, was required to work while he was sick and running a fever. He collapsed on the job and died two days later.

In May 1945, Sullivan, an American PW failed to salute a Japanese mess sergeant. As a consequence thereof he was severely beaten, knocked down and kicked until his body and face were swollen and bruised.

In May of June 1945, Jim Martin, an American PW, refused to give a ring which he owned to a Japanese guard. He was beaten with a club, knocked down several times and kicked. He was then thrown into a water tank in water about five feet deep and additional water thrown on him. The accused watched this beating but did nothing to prevent or stop it.

In June 1945, McCoy, an American PW, was beaten about the head with sticks until he was unconscious.

Destefan, an American PW who was at the camp during the accuseds tenure of office, was severely beaten on three occasions for no reason.

During the time the accused commanded the camp the following American PWs were beaten and tortured: Pickle in July 45, Donald in June or July 44, Berg in June 45, Barham in January 45, Garman in June 45, and Martin in September 44.

While the accused was commander of the camp the PWs were frequently punished collectively and enmasse for infractions of rules committed by individuals. This punishment included reduction of rations on a camp-wide scale.

On several occasions during the time covered in the charge, Japanese camp personnel, particularly a Japanese medical officer, stole and used Red Cross packages which had been sent to the camp for the prisoners use and comfort.

In about June 1945, Private Robert Tussig, and American PW, was found with butter and chocolate in his possession at inspection. He was beaten and kicked in the presence of the accused until his face was cut and bleeding but the accused took no steps to prevent or stop the beating.

In February 1945, Browning, an American PW, was beaten, kicked, and knocked to the ground by Japanese guards until his whole body was bruised and swollen.

In March 1945, Greenwald, an American PW, failed to salute a Japanese sergeant, as a result of which he was beaten about the head and face. Greenwald was then required to find a stick with which he was further severely beaten. Greenwalds chest bone was broken as a consequence of the beating.

In February 1945, Vinson, an American PW, was found with beans in his possession. He was forced to strip and stand in water up to his chest while he was beaten about the head with bamboo poles.

(Next is listed information for the defense, which is for the most part lies and excuses, ie:

Guards at the camp were not authorized to beat prisoners, to burn them or require them to stand at attention for long periods of time.

In March 1945 orders were sent out to hold back one-half of the Red Cross medical supplies but it was not intended thereby to deprive any prisoner of proper medical supplies or care; it was merely a protection against air raids.

No prisoners were ever sent to work who were not physically able to work.

Surgical instruments were issued to prisoner medical officers.

Prisoner medical officers never complained of a lack of surgical instruments.

The president of the Yawata Steel Mills testified. The mill employed 35 to 40 thousand workers, of which approximately 900 were prisoners. He claimed he never saw any mistreatment of prisoners at the mills.


Signed Howard H. Conaway

Captain, JAGD

Asst. Staff Judge Advocate



I concur: However, I believe the sentence is inadequate

For the crimes of which accused was found guilty.

Allan R. Browne


This document is NARA RG 153, FILE 36-12 WW2BIB 02096


Be sure to read the Prisoner of War Information Bureau report on conditions at Fukuoka 3-B. Click below for that report.