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Papers Of Japanese War Crimes Trials Donated To University

March 12, 1989

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) _ One of just two known sets of the records of one of the last chapters of World War II is slowly falling apart.

The brittle, yellowing records include copies of the briefs filed by attorneys in the International Military Tribunal for the Far East - a panel of judges from 11 countries who tried Japan’s military and civilian leaders for war crimes.

Printed on inexpensive paper and bound by string or paper clips, they sit in two file cabinets in the rare book room of Gonzaga University’s Crosby Library.

″The quality of the paper and the printing is such that they will decay over time,″ said Bob Burr, Gonzaga’s library director.

Burr, convinced the documents have great historical value, said he is seeking grants to help preserve them. The documents include the indictments and verdicts against 28 Japanese leaders and a 129-page list of atrocities committed against prisoners.

They were apparently reproduced on a type of mimeograph machine, using whatever paper was available in war-torn Japan between 1946 and 1948.

The only other known copy of the tribunal records is in the National Archives, unindexed and reproduced on the same cheap paper.

The documents were donated to the university last year by Daniel Mahoney, a retired Spokane attorney whose late father, Willis Mahoney, was acting chief prosecutor at the trials’ conclusion.

The tribunal was the Japanese counterpart of the Nuremburg trials of the Nazi high command. It convicted 25 Japanese leaders, including War Minister Hideki Tojo, who was ordered executed along with six others.

Others were sentenced to prison for life or given long sentences.

Although complete records of the 1946 Nuremburg trials have been published, the records of the Far East tribunal have not, Burr said.

″It’s an asset that’s priceless,″ Mahoney said. ″I don’t want anything to happen to it.″

His father, a lawyer, went to Japan in 1946 to assist chief prosecutor Joseph Keenan, and became acting chief prosecutor when Keenan fell ill.

When the trials concluded, the elder Mahoney sent one set of records to the National Archives and brought another set home to Portland, Ore. He later gave the set to his son, with instructions they eventually be donated to Gonzaga, where both Mahoneys attended law school.

″I’ve read very little, but the little I’ve read is fascinating,″ Mahoney said.

Burr said he may seek grants to place the documents on microfilm, a project that is tentatively estimated to cost as much as $20,000.

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