Ryuichi Shimoda et al. v. The State


Ryuichi Shimoda et al. v. The State

On 7 December 1963, in Ryuichi Shimoda et al. v. The State the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the subject of a Japanese judicial review . [ [http://www.helpicrc.org/ihl-nat.nsf/46707c419d6bdfa24125673e00508145/aa559087dbcf1af5c1256a1c0029f14d?OpenDocument Shimoda et al. v. The State] , Tokyo District Court, 7 December 1963] On the 22nd anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the District Court of Tokyo declined to rule on the legality of nuclear weapons in general, but found that "the attacks upon Hiroshima and Nagasaki caused such severe and indiscriminate suffering that they did violate the most basic legal principles governing the conduct of war." [cite news
first=Richard A.
last=Falk |title=The Claimants of Hiroshima
date=1965-02-15 |publisher=The Nation
reprinted in cite book
editor=Richard A. Falk, Saul H. Mendlovitz eds.
title=The Strategy of World Order. Volume: 1
publisher=World Law Fund
year=1966 |location=New York
chapter=The Shimoda Case: Challenge and Response
pages=pp. 307-13
] In the opinion of the court, the act of dropping an atomic bomb on cities was at the time governed by international law found in Hague Convention of 1907 "IV - The Laws and Customs of War on Land" [ [http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/lawofwar/hague04.htm Laws and Customs of War on Land (Hague IV); October 18, 1907] , The Avalon Project at Yale Law School] and "IX - Bombardment by Naval Forces in Time of War" [ [http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/lawofwar/hague09.htm Bombardment by Naval Forces in Time of War (Hague IX); October 18, 1907] , The Avalon Project at Yale Law School] , and the "Hague Draft Rules of Air Warfare of 1922–1923" [ [http://www.lib.byu.edu/~rdh/wwi/1918p/hagair.html The Hague Rules of Air Warfare] The Hague, December, 1922-February, 1923 These rules were never adopted] and was therefore illegal. [cite book
first=Francis A.
last=Boyle |title=The Criminality of Nuclear Deterrence
year=2002
publisher=Clarity Press
location=Atlanta |pages=58
] [Falk, "The Claimants of Hiroshima", p.308]

It was reported in the Hanrei Jiho, vol. 355, p. 17; translated in The Japanese Annual of International Law, vol. 8, 1964, p. 231. [ [http://www.helpicrc.org/ihl-nat.nsf/46707c419d6bdfa24125673e00508145/aa559087dbcf1af5c1256a1c0029f14d/$FILE/Case%20Law%20-%20Shimoda%20-%20Japan.pdf Hanrei Jiho, vol. 355, p. 17; translated in The Japanese Annual of International Law, vol. 8, 1964, p. 231.] {PDF)] that the facts were that:The plaintiffs, Japanese nationals, were all residents either of Hiroshima or of Nagasaki when atomic bombs were dropped on these cities by bombers of the [USAAF|United States [Army] Air Force] in August 1945. Most of the members of their families were killed and many, including some of the plaintiffs themselves, were seriously wounded as a result of these bombings. The plaintiffs jointly brought the present action against the defendant, the State, for damages on the following grounds: (a) that they suffered injury through the dropping of atomic bombs by members of the [Army] Air Force of the United States of America; (b) that the dropping of atomic bombs as an act of hostilities was illegal under the rules of positive international law (taking both treaty law and customary law into consideration) then in force, for which the plaintiffs had a claim for damages; (c) that the dropping of atomic bombs also constituted a wrongful act on the plane of municipal law, ascribable to the United States and its President, Mr. Harry S. Truman; (d) that Japan had waived, by virtue of the provisions of Article 19 (a) of the Treaty of Peace with Japan of 1951, the claims of the plaintiffs under international law and municipal law, with the result that the plaintiffs had lost their claims for damages against the United States and its President; and (e) that this waiver of the plaintiffs' claims by the defendant, the State, gave rise to an obligation on the part of the defendant to pay damages to the plaintiffs.:The plaintiffs' cause of action was based, more specifically, on the provisions of Article I of the State Redress Law, which was applicable to the case of injury to a private person through an unlawful act of a government official; on the provisions of Article 29 of the Constitution, which provided for the obligation to pay just compensation in every case of expropriation of private property by the State for public use; and, finally, on unlawful infringement of the rights of the plaintiffs through the omission of the defendant to take appropriate measures for recovery of compensation.and that it was held::that the action must fail on the merits. The aerial bombardment with atomic bombs of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was an illegal act of hostilities according to the rules of international law. It must be regarded as indiscriminate aerial bombardment of undefended cities, even if it were directed at military objectives only, inasmuch as it resulted in damage comparable to that caused by indiscriminate bombardment. Nevertheless, the claimant as an individual was not entitled to claim damages on the plane of international law, nor was he able, as a result of the doctrine of sovereign immunity, to pursue a claim on the plane of municipal law. In these circumstances, the plaintiffs had no rights to lose as a result of the waiver contained in Article 19 (a) of the Treaty of Peace with Japan.

Aerial bombardment

The judgement draws several distinctions which are pertinent to both conventional and atomic aerial bombardment. Based on international law found in Hague Convention of 1907 "IV - The Laws and Customs of War on Land" [ [http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/lawofwar/hague04.htm Laws and Customs of War on Land (Hague IV); October 18, 1907] , The Avalon Project at Yale Law School] and "IX - Bombardment by Naval Forces in Time of War" [ [http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/lawofwar/hague09.htm Bombardment by Naval Forces in Time of War (Hague IX); October 18, 1907] , The Avalon Project at Yale Law School] , and the "Hague Draft Rules of Air Warfare of 1922–1923" [ [http://www.lib.byu.edu/~rdh/wwi/1918p/hagair.html The Hague Rules of Air Warfare] The Hague, December, 1922-February, 1923 These rules were never adopted] the Court drew a distinction between "Targeted Aerial Bombardment" and indiscriminate area bombardment, that the court called "Blind Aerial Bombardment", and also a distinction between a defended and undefended city. : Paragraph 6] "In principle, a defended city is a city which resists an attempt at occupation by land forces. A city even with defence installations and armed forces cannot be said to be a defended city if it is far away from the battlefield and is not in immediate danger of occupation by the enemy." : Paragraph 7] The court ruled that blind aerial bombardment is only permitted in the immediate vicinity of the operations of land forces and that only targeted aerial bombardment of military installations is permitted further from the front. It also ruled that the incidental death of civilians and the destruction of civilian property during targeted aerial bombardment was not unlawful. : Paragraph 10] The court acknowledged that the concept of a military objective was enlarged under conditions of total war, but stated that the distinction between the two did not disappear. : Paragraph 9] The court also ruled that when military targets were concentrated in a comparatively small area, and where defence installations against air raids were very strong, that when the destruction of non-military objectives is small in proportion to the large military interests, or necessity, such destruction is lawful. paragraph 10] So in the judgement of the Court, because of the immense power of the atom bombs, and the distance from enemy (Allied) land forces, the atomic bombings of both Hiroshima and Nagasaki "was an illegal act of hostilities under international law as it existed at that time, as an indiscriminate bombardment of undefended cities".: Paragraph 8]

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