–U.S. Senator Robert A. Taft,
October 5, 1946.
“The trial of the vanquished by the victors cannot be impartial no matter how it is hedged about with the forms of justice.”
Liberated prisoners of war filling out War Crimes Questionnaires in Manila, September 1945.
The momentum of the Western World and Modern Japan collided at Mitsushima Prisoner of War Camp. Isolated in the Tenryu River valley of Japan’s Central Alps, a Lord of the Flies scenario played out where Bushidō culture and Western jurisprudence argued about how prisoners of war should be treated.
How prisoners of war should be treated became the Rules of War. Japan ratified the Hague Convention. Japan, a military-run government, did not sign the Geneva Convention of 1929 though, in 1942, it did promise to abide by its terms.
Among the ruins of Japan’s defeated capital, one of the Mitsushima guards would become the first person to be tried for war crimes against the Rules of War.
At the Yokohama War Crimes Tribunal, the concept of the Rules of War would set the legal precedent upon which every successive war crimes trial would rely. Every murder, beating, summary punishment, brutal treatment, forced labour, medical experimentation, starvation rations, and poor medical treatment would rely on the effectiveness of the trial of a civilian guard and injured former corporal with the nickname “Little Glass Eye.”
Sparrow brings together all the evidence submitted at the Yokohama, Singapore, and Darwin War Crimes Tribunals and incorporates a broader range of perspectives into the story. It is the first portrayal of the events that led to the deaths of 48 prisoners and the eventual execution of six guards, whilst another four guards (including Tsuchiya) received life sentences.
Sparrow also includes an historiographical analysis of the events that led to the formation of the Rules of War. Western and Eastern attitudes and motives are compared and contrasted in an attempt to understand why cultures clashed in the largest event in human history - the Second World War.
Footage of the first person tried as a war criminal. Tatsuo Tsuchiya (also known as 'Little Glass Eye') was also a guard at Mitsushima Prisoner of War Camp.
Mugshots of former guards at Mitsushima and Kanose prisoner of war camps tried for war crimes.