Double Tenth trial

by Wong, Heng

The Double Tenth trial was conducted from 18 March to 15 April 1946 involving 21 members of the Kempeitai in Singapore for atrocities committed against 57 civilians who had been interned at Changi Gaol.1

On 10 October 1943, the Kempeitai had raided Changi Goal during which they rounded up civilian internees and transported them to the YMCA building, the Central Police Station and Smith Street Police Station for interrogation. These internees were subjected to brutal torture, which lasted until 2 April 1944. Fifteen of them eventually lost their lives. This episode came to be known as the Double Tenth incident.2

On 15 April 1946,3 after 21 days of hearing, the court found 14 of the Kempeitai guilty, with eight sentenced to death by hanging and six having to serve a prison term; seven of the accused were acquitted.4

The war crime trial was held in the Supreme Court building before a Military Court, presided over by Lieutenant Colonel S. C. Silkin.5 The 21 Kempeitai included Lieutenant Colonel Sumida Haruzo, Commanding Officer of the Singapore Branch. Their defence was that they had acted under the orders of their superiors.6 However, the prosecution countered by citing the famed 1922 German Supreme Court case of Canadian hospital ship, Llamdovery Castle, which noted that “members of the armed forces are bound to obey lawful orders only”.7

Who's who

President: Lieutenant-Colonel S. C. Silkin, R. A., Barrister-at-Law.
Member: Major S. F. Hodgens, Australian Army Legal Corps.
Member: Captain R. J. Topping, 6/8 Punjab Regiment.

Counsel for the prosecution9
Lieutenant-Colonel Colin Sleeman, 16/5th Lancers, Barrister-at-Law; Assistant Judge Advocate General, Headquarters, Allied Land Forces, Southeast Asia.
Captain A. A. Hibbert, R.W.A.F.F, Staff Captain, (Legal), Headquarters, Allied Land Forces, Southeast Asia.

Counsel for the defence10
Mr Hori Masakaya.
Mr Suzuki Hisakazu.
Both were Advocates of District Courts in Japan, assisted by Lieutenant Wilkinson.

Found guilty11
Lieutenant-Colonel Sumida Haruzo (death sentence)
Warrant Officer Monai Tadamori (death sentence)
Sergeant Major Makizono Masuo (death sentence)
Sergeant Major Terada Takao (death sentence)
Sergeant Nozawa Toichiro (death sentence)
Sergeant Major Tsujio Shigeo (death sentence) 
Sergeant Major Morita Shozo (death sentence)
Interpreter Toh Swee Koon (death sentence)
Warrant Officer Sakamoto Shigeru (life imprisonment)
Sergeant Kasahara Hideo (life imprisonment)
Interpreter Nigo Masayoshi (life imprisonment)
Interpreter Miyazaki Kasuo (15 years’ imprisonment)
Sergeant Sugimoto Kozo (8 years’ imprisonment)
Interpreter Chan Eng Thiam (8 years’ imprisonment)

Interpreters Toh Swee Koon and Miyazaki Kasuo were offered bail of $5,000 each in two sureties.12 The sentence for Kasuo, son of a Malay father and a Japanese mother, was later annulled as he was a British subject and therefore could not be tried for the war crimes. He was subsequently sentenced by a local court on 26 September 1946 to 15 months’ rigorous imprisonment.13 Toh, a Chinese interpreter, was tried and sentenced to four years’ rigorous imprisonment on 8 October 1946 by the district judge.14

Warrant Officer Umeda Hisao
Sergeant Major Kataoka Masaki
Sergeant Major Sugimoto Heikichi
Sergeant Takeuchi Noboru
Sergeant Yamauchi Satori
Private Murata Yoshitaro
Private Tanaka Toshiro

Wong Heng

1. “Double Tenth Trial Opens,” Straits Times, 19 March 1946, 3; “Kempeitai 'Stalked Like Scourge throughout Asia',” Straits Times, 14 April 1946, 4. (From NewspaperSG); Sumida Haruzo, Trial of Sumida Haruzo and Twenty Others (the ‘Double Tenth’ Trial), ed., Colin Sleeman and S. C. Silkin (London: W. Hodge, 1951), xvii, 1–2, 7–8. (Call no. RCLOS 341.69 HAR)
2. “24 Jap M.P.s in ‘Double Tenth’,” Straits Times, 2 March 1946, 3; “Double Tenth Trial Opens.”
3. Haruzo, Trial of Sumida Haruzo, 583.
4. Haruzo, Trial of Sumida Haruzo, 583–96; “Sumida Fought a Battle of Wits with Col. Sleeman,” New Nation, 19 December 1974, 10–11. (From NewspaperSG)
5. Haruzo, Trial of Sumida Haruzo, xvii.
6. “Double Tenth Trial Opens”; “Sumida Fought a Battle.”
7. Philip R. Piccigallo, The Japanese on Trial: Allied War Crimes Operations in the East, 1945–1951 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1979), 110. (Call no. RSING 341.69 PIC) 
8. Haruzo, Trial of Sumida Haruzo, xvii.
9. Haruzo, Trial of Sumida Haruzo, xvii.
10. Haruzo, Trial of Sumida Haruzo, xvii.
11. Haruzo, Trial of Sumida Haruzo, 1, 593–95.
12. “Extortion with Force Charges,” Straits Times, 16 August 1946, 5. (From NewspaperSG)
13. “Double 10 Interpreter’s Sentence Reduced,” Straits Times, 27 September 1946, 5; “YMCA Kempei Interpreter Jailed,” Singapore Free Press, 27 September 1946, 5. (From NewspaperSG)
14. “Occupation Interpreter Charged,” Straits Times, 8 October 1946, 5; “Occupation Interpreter Is Gaoled,” Straits Times, 9 October 1946, 5. (From NewspaperSG)
15. Haruzo, Trial of Sumida Haruzo, 587–88; “One Acquitted in “Double Tenth” Case,” Indian Daily Mail, 29 March 1946, 4. (From NewspaperSG); Piccigallo, Japanese on Trial, 110.

Further resources
Constance Mary Turnbull, A History of Modern Singapore, 1819–2005 (Singapore: NUS Press, 2009), 213. (Call no. RSING 959.57 TUR-[HIS])

"Double Tenth" Men Hanged at Changi,” Straits Times, 12 July 1946, 5. (From NewspaperSG)

Japanese War Crimes Trials Begin on Monday,” Straits Times, 19 January 1946, 3. (From NewspaperSG) 

Sime Road Camp Trial Opens,” Straits Times, 28 August 1946, 3. (From NewspaperSG)

Sumida Haruzo, The Double Tenth Trial, War Crimes Court In re Lt.-Col. Sumida and 20 Others, ed., Bashir A. Mallal (Singapore: Malayan Law Journal Office, 1947). (Call no. RCLOS 341.69 HAR)

The information in this article is valid as at 2017 and correct as far as we can ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Double Tenth Massacre, Singapore, 1943
Singapore--History--Japanese occupation, 1942-1945
War crime trials--Singapore
1942-1945 Japanese occupation