Ending Hatred and the Start of Healing: President Elpidio Quirino’s Pardoning of Japanese War Criminals in the Philippines and its Aftermath


On July 22, 1953 President Elpidio Quirino issued a proclamation granting executive clemency to 105 Japanese war criminals and allowed them to return to Japan. The proclamation came barely a decade after the end of World War II during which thousands of Filipinos lost their lives as victims of Japanese atrocities. Quirino himself lost his wife and two children to Japanese gunfire in the battle of Manila. At the time of President Quirino’s proclamation anti-Japanese sentiment in the Philippines was still high and various sectors opposed his edict. In explaining his act of pardoning the war criminals Quirino said”I do not want my children and my people to inherit from me hate for people who might yet be our friends, for the permanent interest of the country.” Three years after that act of pardon full diplomatic relations with Japan were restored and 70 years later the Philippines and Japan have become close allies cooperating in economic, political and cultural matters. The main problem of this paper is to examine why Quirino pardoned the Japanese war criminals and how the Filipinos reacted to his edict. The conceptual framework of this paper sees Quirino’s act of clemency as an important step in the restoration of Philippine-Japanese relations and the beginning of the healing process for the Filipinos. The methodology of his paper utilizes documentary research and the key approach is to conduct research of Philippine newspapers and government documents regarding Quirino’s amnesty proclamation.

Author Information
Augusto de Viana

Paper Information
Conference: APSec2016
Stream: International Relations of the Asia-Pacific

This paper is part of the APSec2016 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon