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“Remember Pearl Harbor” – Etched on Japanese Leader’s Teeth by Dentist

Andrew Pourciaux

America’s entry into the second world war was through a sudden attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. This attack while unexpected, would lead the United States to get involved in multiple theaters of war and would ultimately lead to the defeat of the Japanese Empire.

After the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, the Japanese finally surrendered. Trials would begin shortly after the end of the war, bringing to light the many cruel and horrible war crimes that had been committed by the Japanese government.

Hiroshima Strike Photo

Hiroshima Strike Photo

One man, the Prime Minister of Japan, Hideki Tojo, would stand before the military tribunal and face the judgement for what his country had done under his orders. While imprisoned in Sugamo Prison, he faced a terrible problem.

His teeth weren’t in working condition and he would be unable to speak at his trial. Tojo expressed a desire to be able to speak on his own behalf during his trial, and as such would need dentures.

Hideki Tojo (1884-1948)

Hideki Tojo (1884-1948)

Jack Mallory, a dental prosthetics officer for the Navy who had been stationed at a nearby hospital in Tokyo, would be dispatched to examine Tojo’s mouth. Along with his dentist companion, George Foster, the two examined Tojo’s mouth and made proper examination of what he would need.

Tojo, knowing that he would not be long for this world since he was facing execution, only wanted the top row of his teeth, as opposed to the full set. All he wanted was to be able to speak his piece at the trial.

Japanese War Crimes Trials. Manila.

Japanese War Crimes Trials. Manila.

As Jack and George went about creating the dentures, but as they worked, Mallory thought of making some custom alterations to the teeth. He wanted to drill the words “Remember Pearl Harbor” on the inside of the teeth but knew that if he were caught it would be an instant court martial. Rather, he opted to take a less obvious route – Morse code.

Having been an amateur ham radio operation, Jack knew how to inscribe the words Remember Pearl Harbor in dots and dashes, drilled into the teeth.

There would be no way that Tojo would know or understand the message. It would be a great way to put words in the mouth of the man who had caused so much grief and suffering for America.

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Yet, the motivation behind this action was not out of anger or hatred, at least that’s what Jack Mallory would claim in an interview. Rather, he viewed it as a prank, a funny way to be subversive towards the man without causing any lasting harm.

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Mallory and George Foster shared the story of this prank amongst a few of their dentist friends, but the story would quickly leak and make its way as far as to an American radio station in Texas.

Tojo before the International Military Tribunal for the Far East.

Tojo before the International Military Tribunal for the Far East.

Realizing that there would be trouble if this news was heard by the higher-ups, Jack Mallory was forced to tell his immediate superior about what he had done. His officer, who himself had found Mallory’s actions to be funny, ordered George and Jack to remove all evidence of what they had done, before they got caught. And so, the two made a midnight visit to the prison to take the dentures back for a dental “emergency.”

They made sure to grind out all of the dots and dashes from the mouthpiece, hiding all evidence of what they had done. Now, if a superior officer found out about the claims, they could simply deny what happened. There was no proof that Tojo’s dentures had ever contained the message reminding him of the war crime at Pearl Harbor.

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As for Tojo, he never learned about what had once been on his dentures. Instead, he would be forced to stand trial for his crimes, would be pronounced guilty and sentenced to execution by hanging.