The final resting place of a World War II Axis villain has finally been revealed, thanks to a researcher who noticed a familiar name at the bottom of a declassified United States Army document.
The once-secret paper reveals what really happened to wartime Japanese Prime Minister Hideki Tojo’s remains after he was executed for war crimes in 1948.
According The Associated Press, the mystery that has puzzled Japan for decades was finally solved thanks to Nihon University Professor Hiroaki Takazawa. The professor publicly released his report, which includes the declassified U.S. Army documents, on June 7.
Tojo was executed after a series of military tribunals in World War II, but not before attempting to evade justice.
The war criminal first attempted suicide immediately after the war, before he could stand trial. He was rescued and nursed back to health by Allied forces before being made to face his crimes.
Although many other war criminals escaped any real punishment, Tojo was one of the few who was condemned to die for his part in the bloody conflict. On Dec. 23, 1948, he was hanged until dead.
The new report shows that shortly after the war villain faced justice at the gallows, his remains came under the supervision of U.S. Army Maj. Luther Frierson.
Frierson and armed guards rushed the body from a prison that was Tojo’s final residence and death place to a crematorium. There, the remains were placed in an oven and incinerated.
After the cremation, the ovens were meticulously cleaned to prevent fanatics from venerating any remains of the former prime minister.
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“Special precaution was taken to preclude overlooking even the smallest particles of remains,” Frierson wrote in his own report, recorded two weeks after the cremation.
From there, the ashes were transported directly to the Pacific. Frierson escorted the remains to an airstrip, boarded a plane, and dispersed the remains over “a wide area.”
“In addition to their attempt to prevent the remains from being glorified, I think the U.S. military was adamant about not letting the remains return to Japanese territory,” Takazawa said, adding that he thinks it was done as an “ultimate humiliation.”
While it appears the remains were treated with the commitment to professionalism and dignity that is the hallmark of the United States military, Frierson’s report is scant on details.
Americans would have seemingly had plenty of motivation to cause humiliation, as Tojo was ultimately the one who stunned the nation after Imperial Japanese forces surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.
Although the move was meant to cripple U.S. Pacific forces, American aircraft carriers and other vessels were out at sea during the aerial bombardment.
The bloody attack on the Hawaiian base galvanized citizens and ultimately dragged the United States into World War II as an active combatant.
This would lead to the capitulation of Imperial Japan and the splitting of Germany just a few years later.