Nakanishi Haruyoshi

Between 3 August 1944 and 5 September 1944
S.S. Taian Maru on a voyage from Ambon to Sourabaya (present-day Surabaya), Netherlands East Indies (present-day Indonesia)
14, 15, 16, 19, and 20 May 1947
Case Summary

Sergeant Major Nakanishi Haruyoshi was the draft conducting officer of some 600 British and Dutch POWs on board the S.S. Taian Maru on a voyage from Ambon to Sourabaya (present-day Surabaya).

The purpose of transporting these POWs to Surabaya was said to be twofold: (1) to better protect them from the incessant air raids; and (2) to provide them access to better medical facilities.

It appears from the evidence that this ship was not in her best condition, having suffered torpedo damage previous and that the accommodation allocated to these POWs was not satisfactory.  A single ill-ventilated hold served as the accomodation of the POWs throughout the voyage.

The prosecution contended that Nakanishi was criminally negligent in failing to improve conditions and failing to control the Korean guards, who allegedly subjected the POWs to frequent beatings. The defence did not deny the bad conditions prevailing but contended that the accommodation and provision of medical supplies etc. was the responsibility of the Movement Authorities and that as a mere draft conducting non-commissioned officer, it was not within Nakanishi's province to organise the journey, but only to look after the POWs in his draft. Any ill-treatment of prisoners was also strongly denied. It was said that as a result of his alleged negligence, the accused caused or materially contributed to the POWs' physical suffering and, in particular, the deaths of some 27 POWs. 


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The S.S. Taian Maru was a type of ship known as a "hell ship", which is a ship with extremely unpleasant living conditions or a reputation for cruelty among the crew. It now generally refers to ships used by the Japanese to transport Allied POWs during WWII.