Tribe to sue Japan over 'atrocity'
A TRIBE in the Philippines is preparing a class action against the Japanese Government, claiming that a unit of Japanese marines cannibalised at least 66 of its people in the year after the war ended.
The Bukidnon (Taalandig) tribe on Mindanao Island claims that the 15 Debarkation Unit of the Leopard Division of the Japanese Army systematically ambushed and cannibalised tribespeople after it was cut off from the surrendering Japanese High Command.
Tribe historian Perseus Echeminada, who is writing a book on the alleged events, said the 66 people were only the ones who had been reported as missing to the police. So many people disappeared that the superstitious tribespeople feared there was a monster in the jungle.
Mr Echeminada said the unit's medical officer, Dr Hajima Ainuda, was the principal instigator of the cannibalism. Dr Ainuda was one of only 38 survivors of the unit's 300 officers and men in 1946, and he is only one of seven survivors today.
'The man the Bukidnon tribespeople really hate is Dr Ainuda, because he was evil,' Mr Echeminada said. 'This man is just a butcher of human flesh, using his medical knowledge to carve people up.' He said the class action was directed at the Japanese Government because the Imperial Japanese Army High Command had told its troops that cannibalism was acceptable in extreme circumstances, provided it did not involve the eating of other Japanese troops.
'I had heard the cannibalism stories for years from the other tribespeople. I thought it was just folklore, even though some of my distant relatives disappeared in that 12-month period,' said Mr Echeminada.
'I started changing my mind when tribal elder Dionisio Pacubas told me how his wife and children had disappeared and how he had managed to escape the Japanese. Like many other tribespeople, he carried weapon scars until the day he died.
'I now have authentic copies of interrogation reports and legal affidavits taken from the marines in prison, in which the Japanese admit their cannibalism and even describe how some of the victims were decapitated, sliced up and their flesh hung out to dry. One account describes mixing human flesh with lemon juice.'