Ben Bruce Blakeney

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This article is about American lawyer. For the musician, see Ben Bruce (musician).

Ben Bruce Blakeney (30 July 1908, Shawnee, Oklahoma – March 4, 1963) was an American lawyer who served with the rank of major during the Second World War in the Pacific theatre.[1]

International Military Tribunal of the Far East[edit]

In 1946–1948, he served as a defense counsel at the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal, and defended Shigenori Tōgō, General Yoshijirō Umezu and Admiral Soemu Toyoda, who was found not guilty. Among his arguments were that aggressive war could not be defined as a crime under international law, hence he took the bold step of addressing the extremely sensitive issue of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima saying: "If the killing of Admiral Kidd by the bombing of Pearl Harbor is murder, we know the name of the very man who[se] hands loosed the atomic bomb on Hiroshima."[2]

After a number of defense counsel resigned in protest, Blakeney continued his work for the defense team, arguing that the court should not create a double standard where the Japanese were punished but others were allowed to go free for committing acts of war.[1] Blakeney, together with defense attorney George Furness, filed an appeal with the Supreme Court of the United States on behalf of the convicted Japanese officials, arguing that the ruling could not be upheld because General Douglas MacArthur had acted unconstitutionally in constituting the tribunal. The appeal was denied.[1]

Post-Tribunal career[edit]

In 1949, he began work as a lecturer of law at Tokyo University. Blakeney later worked with Tōgō Fumihiko to translate and edit "The Cause of Japan," by Tōgō Shigenori."[1] He was killed in a plane crash in 1963.


  • "The Japanese High Command", Military Affairs, Vol. 9, No. 2 (Summer, 1945), pp. 95–113 and No. 3 (Autumn, 1945), pp. 208–218
  • A Sketch of the development of Japanese law. 1960. OCLC 469291130.