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Yamashita v.

Styer (1945)
Moran, C.J.
FACTS:
Petitioner Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita - the Tiger of Malaya - was the commanding general of the 14th Army
Group of the Japanese Imperial Army in the Philippines.
He commanded the Japanese army in their retreat from the Philippines (1944-45), wherein the Japanese army
committed arson, murder, rape, pillage, and other atrocities against the Filipino and American peoples.
Sep. 3, 1945 Following the defeat of Japan, Yamashita surrendered to the US Army in Baguio. He became a
United States Prisoner of War and was held in New Bilibid Prison.
Oct. 1, 1945 By command of respondent Gen. William Styer (Commanding General, US Army, Western Pacific)
and pursuant to authorization from General Headquarters, United States Army Forces, Western Pacific, a Military
Commission was appointed to try Yamashita.
Oct. 2, 1945 A charge for violation of the laws of war was served upon Yamashita.
o The charge alleged that during the period between Oct. 9, 1944 and Sept. 3, 1945, Yamashita, "while
commander of the armed forces of Japan at war with the United States and its allies, unlawfully
disregarded and failed to discharge his duty as commander to control the operations of the members of
his command, permitting them to commit brutal atrocities and other high crimes against the people of the
United States and its allies and dependencies, particularly the Philippines."
Oct. 8, 1945 Upon arraignment, Yamashita pleaded not guilty. On the same date, the prosecution filed a bill of
particulars specifying 64 offenses committed by Yamashita. Later 123 offenses were added.
Oct. 19, 1945 Yamashita moved to dismiss the case, alleging:
o that the charge as modified by the bills of particulars failed to state a violation of the laws of war by
Yamashita;
o that the Military Commission had no jurisdiction to try the case.
Oct. 29, 1945 Yamashitas motion to dismiss was denied. Trial of the case began on the same day.
o At the opening of the trial, the prosecution stated that the United States did not give notice of the trial to
the protecting power of Japan (Spain), such notice being required by Article 60 of the Geneva Convention,
and by paragraph 133 of the Rules of Land Warfare, United States War Department.
o The defense objected to the introduction to two pieces of evidence (both objections were overruled):
Affidavit of Naukata Utsunomia, on the grounds that Article of War 25 prohibited the introduction
of depositions by the prosecution in trials of capital cases before a court-martial or military
commission;
Unspecified piece of hearsay evidence, on the ground that the admission of hearsay evidence
violated Article of War 38 as well as the rules of evidence in US district courts.
Yamashita then filed a petition for habeas corpus and prohibition against Gen. Styer, praying that he be returned
to prisoner-of-war status and that the Military Commission be prohibited from trying his case.
ISSUES + RULING:
Does the Military Commission have jurisdiction to try Yamashitas case? YES.
The Supreme Court, being a civil court, has no jurisdiction to grant the remedies being prayed for, as the trial is
military in nature and the Military Commission has not been impleaded.
The Supreme Court still has no jurisdiction to entertain the petition even if the Military Commission is
impleaded as a respondent.
o Raquiza v. Bradford: An exercise of jurisdiction by the civil courts over the United States Army before the
expiration of the state of war is a violation of the countrys faith. This ruling applies with greater force to
Yamashita, who is accused of committing horrible atrocities against the Filipino people.

A state of war may continue to prevail after hostilities have ceased; and a Military Commission has
jurisdiction as long as a technical state of war prevails.
o A state of war may be extended beyond the date of actual cessation of hostilities for the purpose of
rounding up war criminals.
o A state of war may prevail even during an armistice, during peace negotiations, and may even be
extended by treaty.
Payumo v. Floyd: The Supreme Court has no power to review the proceedings of a military tribunal in a habeas
corpus case, if it has no jurisdiction over such court.
SC: The Military Commission thus duly constituted has jurisdiction both over the person of the petitioner and over
the offenses with which he is charged. It has jurisdiction over the person of the petitioner by reason of his having
fallen into the hands of the United States Army Forces. Under paragraph 347 of the Rules of Land Warfare, "the
commanders ordering the commission of such acts, or under whose authority they are committed by their troops,
may be punished by the belligerent into whose hands they may fall.
Ex parte Quinn: "From the very beginning of its history this Court has recognized and applied the law of
war as including that part of the law of nations which prescribes, for the conduct of war, the status, rights
and duties of enemy nations as well as of enemy individuals. By the Articles of War, and especially Article 15,
Congress has explicitly provided, so far as it may constitutionally do so, that military tribunals shall have
jurisdiction to try offenders or offenses against the law of war in appropriate cases.
Paragraph 356 of the Rules of Land Warfare and Articles of War 12 and 15 together provide for the establishment
of a Military Commission to try and punish offenses against the law of war not ordinarily tried by court-martial, and
that this Commission must be designated by the belligerent.
o In this case the belligerent state is the United States, as represented by General Styer as Commander of
the US Army, Western Pacific. The Commission was thus validly constituted by General Styer, with the
authority vested in him by General Douglas McArthur (Commander in Chief of the US Army in the Pacific).

Is the Philippines occupied territory wherein the Military Commission can exercise jurisdiction? YES.
According to the Regulations Governing the Trial of War Criminals in the Pacific, the Military Commission has
jurisdiction over all of Japan and other areas occupied by the armed forces commanded by the Commander in
Chief, United States Army Forces, Pacific.
This should be understood to mean the Philippines, as the United States Army has occupied the Philippines to
liberate the Filipino people from Japanese occupation.
The creation of a Military Commission to try Japanese war criminals is an incident of this war of liberation.
Did the non-notification of Spain, Japans protecting power, divest the Military Commission of its jurisdiction? NO.
Contrary to Yamashitas allegation, there is nothing in the Geneva Convention which requires notice to the
protecting power for a Military Commission appointed by the winning belligerent to acquire jurisdiction.
Japans unconditional surrender is a waiver of such notice.
The fact that Spain had cut diplomatic ties with Japan over the commission of atrocities against Spanish subjects
in the Philippines is an indication that Spain had ceased to be the protecting power of Japan.
Did the charge against Yamashita state a violation of the laws of war? YES.
The charge, as modified by the two bills of particulars, clearly specifies the offenses committed under Yamashitas
command.
Among these charges which are all offenses against the laws of war as described in Paragraph 347 of the Rules
of Land Warfare - are:
o brutal massacre of civilian noncombatants, including bayoneting of children
o rape of young girls
o hateful pillage of public, private, and religious property
Did the introduction of inadmissible evidence over Yamashitas objection deprive him of his right to a fair trial? NO.

These alleged irregularities cannot divest the Commission of its jurisdiction. Furthermore, the issue cannot be
reviewed in a habeas corpus proceeding.

DISPOSITION: Petition dismissed.


OZAETA, J., concurring and dissenting:
The ruling in Raquiza v. Bradford does not apply to this case. The ruling in that case was mistaken, for the rule
stated therein assumes that there are two sovereign countries. The armies of the United States are in the
Philippines by virtue of US sovereignty over the Philippine islands and not by permission, hence the rule of
international law exempting foreign armies from the jurisdiction of civil and criminal courts of the countries that
hosted them with permission of the sovereign could not apply.
PERFECTO, J., concurring and dissenting:
Justice Perfecto voted to deny the petition for habeas corpus and grant the petition for prohibition.
International Law has been accepted as binding by the nations of the world:
o Impelled by irrepressible endeavors aimed towards the ideal, by the unconquerable natural urge for
improvement, by the unquenchable thirstiness of perfection in all orders of life, humanity has been
struggling during the last two dozen centuries to develop an international law which could answer more
and more faithfully the demands of right and justice as expressed in principles which, weakly enunciated
at first in the rudimentary juristic sense of peoples of antiquity, by the inherent power of their universal
appeal to human conscience, at last, were accepted, recognized, and consecrated by all the civilized
nations of the world.
o Under these principles, [Yamashita] is entitled to be accorded all the guarantees, protections, and
defenses that all prisoners should have, according to the customs and usages, conventions and treaties,
judicial decisions and executive pronouncements, and generally accepted opinions of thinkers, legal
philosophers and other expounders of just rules and principles of international law.
He then cites historical antecedents and international law authorities to the effect that war criminals like
Yamashita remain entitled to the legal guarantees of a fair and impartial trial, including due process.
While he does not deny the jurisdiction of the Military Commission, he finds that the Regulations Governing the
Trial of War Criminals in the Pacific - which allow the introduction of hearsay evidence and unsigned affidavits;
apart from providing for collective criminal responsibility without trial of all group members is unconstitutional for
violating the due process clause. Prohibition must be granted to stop the trial of the case under such Regulations.