Mamoru Shigemitsu

28.11.2011 ( Last modified: 09.06.2016 )
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Mamoru Shigemitsu was born on 29 July 1887 in Oita. He took up a diplomatic career and held posts in London, Berlin and the United States. From 1931 to 1932, he was Japanese Ambassador to China during the invasion of Manchuria by the Japanese Army. From 1933 to 1936, he held the position of Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs.

In April 1932, an attempt was made on his life in Shanghai resulting in the loss of his right leg. In 1936, he was made Japanese Ambassador to the USSR, a post he held until 1938 when serious border incidents broke out between Japanese and Soviet soldiers. He became subsequently Japanese Ambassador to the United Kingdom until 1941, when the attack on Pearl Harbour took place.

In 1943, he succeeded Masayuki as Minister for Foreign Affairs and held this position until the end of the war. In this capacity, on 2 September 1945,he signed the allied forces’ unconditional surrender document
He was arrested shortly afterwards and indicted for war crimes by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE), Tokyo.


legal procedure

Mamoru Shigemitsu was arrested shortly after signing the allied unconditional surrender document and put on trial before the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. (IMTFE), Tokyo.

On 12 November 1948,the IMTFE acquitted Mamoru Shigemitsu of count 1 (conspiracy to wage wars of aggression against one or more countries, between 1 January 1928 and 2 September 1945) count 35 (of waging aggressive war against the USSR) and count 54 (of having ordered, authorised and permitted inhumane treatment, in particular against prisoners of war).

On the other hand, the Tribunal judged that in view of his high position in the ranks of the Japanese diplomatic corps, Mamoru Shigemitsu was found guilty of counts 27, 29, 31, 32, 33 (waging wars of aggression against China, the United States, the British Commonwealth, the Netherlands and France) and count 55 (of having deliberately and recklessly disregarded his duty to take adequate steps to prevent violations of the laws and customs of war).

Nevertheless, the IMTFE took note that Shigemitsu was “only” an Ambassador at the time the wars of aggression broke out (except insofar as French Indochina was concerned) and whereas he had an important role to play in the decision to invade these countries, he was not the primary planner.

On 12 November 1948, the Tribunal sentenced Mamoru Shigemitsu to 7 years imprisonment.

He was released on parole in 1950.

From 1954 to 1956, Mamoru Shigemitsu once again held the position of Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Mamoru Shigemitsu died on 27 June 1957 .




After Japan’s surrender in World War II, the victorious powers decided to a institute an International Tribunal aimed at trying those members of the Japanese establishment who were most responsible for the war of aggression waged by Japan and for other crimes perpetrated during the war. The Tribunal was established by means of a decree of the Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in the Far East, US General Douglas MacArthur, on 19 January 1946, amended on the following 25 April.

The IMTFE Charter reproduced almost verbatim the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal. The Tribunal had jurisdiction over allegations of crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Judges and prosecutors were chosen among the nationals of States who were in war against Japan (United States, Great Britain, Soviet Union, Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, France, the Philippines and China). The Tokyo Tribunal received the same criticisms moved to its German counterpart, concerning in particular the modality of its creation, the composition of the judiciary and the respect for the principle of legality. The public prosecution was lead by the American Joseph B. Keenan.

The proceedings at the Tribunal took place between 29 April 1946 and 12 November 1948. In total, 28 former Japanese generals and politicians were indicted. Remarkably, no proceedings were instituted against the then Emperor of Japan, Hirohito. Most accused were charged on counts of crimes against peace, concerning the aggressive policy implemented by Japan before and during the World War. All the defendants were convicted.  Seven of them were sentenced to death, most of the others to life imprisonment.


A number of other proceedings were held against Japanese war criminals before courts-martial or military commissions run by each of the victorious Powers. Overall, more than 5600 Japanese nationals were prosecuted, in more than 2200 trials. About 4400 people were convicted, and about 1000 of them were subsequently executed.


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