Japan: The curious tale of the man who slapped Tojo


ACuriousMadnessOn May 3, 1946, the indictments were read at the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. Among the defendants was a gangly, bespectacled, 59-year-old civilian named Shumei Okawa, who happened to be seated directly behind the former prime minister, army Gen. Hideki Tojo.

As the clerk read the indictments, Okawa began squirming in his seat and chirping gibberish.

In his book “A Curious Madness,” author Eric Jaffe describes what happened next: “… as the clerk reached count 22 of the indictment, Okawa rose halfway in his seat. Wearing what some reporters later called a ‘cunning grin,’ he extended his long arm forward with an open palm and slapped the top of Tojo Hideki’s bald head. The startled general … turned back to see [U.S. Army Col. Aubrey] Kenworthy restraining Okawa by his gangly shoulder.”

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