Practice Relating to Rule 37. Open Towns and Non-Defended Localities
According to the Report on the Practice of Japan, the Japanese Government explained to the Diet in 1984 that “authorities which may declare non-defended localities and may open them to enemy occupation are States party to a conflict or authorities responsible for the defense of the localities in question”. They are “generally speaking, States or military authorities”, but “a local government is not excluded from those authorities if it possesses command authority and has the power to promise an opponent not to defend itself”.
In its judgment in the Shimoda case in 1963, Japan’s District Court of Tokyo stated:
Dropping an atomic bomb on undefended towns should … be deemed the same as blind bombing, if it is not an attack on defended towns. Such an act should be recognized as violating international law at that time.