Excerpts from "the first rough draft of history" as reported in The Washington Post on this date in the 20th century.

Two years after the executions of Hitler's henchmen in 1946, seven Japanese war leaders met the same fate after being found guilty by the Tokyo war crimes trial of numerous atrocities during World War II. While Japanese Emperor Hirohito approved of the decisions that led to war, he was never tried. He did, however, renounce his divinity and was demoted from sovereign to "symbol of the state." He died in 1989. An excerpt from The Post of Dec. 23, 1948:

By Earnest Hoberecht

TOKYO (Thursday), Dec. 23 (U.P.) --

Hideki Tojo and six other Japanese war lords who tried to conquer the world were hanged in Sugamo Prison today for the murder, torture and rape of millions.

The Japanese partners in a conspiracy which left maimed and dead on battlefields from the Aleutians to Guadalcanal paid with their own lives between midnight and 12:35 a.m.

Tojo, who ordered the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor seven years and 15 days ago, climbed the 13 steps to the gibbet at half a minute after midnight. Ten minutes later, he was declared dead.

Bald, hatchet-faced Tojo, 64, was in a group of four hanged simultaneously. The others were Gen. Kenji Doihara, 65, so-called "Lawrence of Manchuria"; Lieut. Gen. Aikira Muto, 56, responsible for the rape of Manila, and Gen. Iwane Matsui, 70, who directed the rape of Nanking and the murder of 200,000 Chinese in six weeks.

Doihara died first, at 7 minutes after midnight. Tojo was pronounced dead three minutes later. Muto was declared dead at 11 minutes after midnight and Matsui at 13 minutes after midnight.

The second group, of three -- Gen. Seishiro Itagaki, 63, who starved prisoners in the Dutch East Indies; former Premier Koki Hirota, 70, a leader of the Black Dragon Society which spread terror throughout the Far East, and Gen. Heitaro Kimura, 59, commander of Japanese forces in Burma -- entered the death chamber at 12:19 a.m.

The traps were sprung at 12:20 a.m. and within 15 minutes all were dead. Kimura was the last pronounced dead at 12:35 a.m.

No newsmen were permitted inside the prison. Details of the war lords' last days in jail and their final minutes of life were contained in a lengthy statement from Gen. Douglas MacArthur's headquarters issued hours after the executions took place.

An 11-nation tribunal set up by the Allies condemned Tojo and his six associates to die for conspiring to wage aggressive warfare, for crimes against humanity and for atrocities against civilians and Allied troops. ...

Their doom was sealed Monday when the United States Supreme Court refused to act on appeals by Doihara and Hirota.

Tojo was the last of the three Axis dictators to die and the only one to be brought to trial. He shot himself below the heart in a suicide attempt September 11, 1945, but was saved for the gallows by American Army surgeons.

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