Tokyo Trial

The Tokyo Trial which was officially named as the International Military Tribunal for the Far East started by the General Headquarters (GHQ) of the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers (SCAP) in 1946 in the occupied Japan. The purpose of the trial was to punish those who started the war against the Allied Powers. For trying the Japanese war criminals, the trial employed, in addition to the conventional war crimes, a newly created crime called “crime against peace.” All defendants were judged to be guilty at the final closing of the court in 1948, and Japan was judged to have started an aggression. However, a number of serious questions have been raised by various people around the world on this trial. These questions are introduced below through the books which are summarized.

Author: Kiojima, Noboru 
The Tokyo Trial (東京裁判)
Publisher: Chuokoron (1971)

▶The trial proceedings are well described as he observed and gained information on the trial

▶Indicates possible flaws on the trial

▶An excellent introduction to the subject in the Japanese language

The author raises many questions about this trial. The questions include the authority under which it was undertaken, the claim of the “civilization” which was assumed to be the plaintiffs, the claim by the prosecutors for calling all wars fought by Japan as “aggression,” harsher than expected degrees of the verdicts given to the defendants, and the overall impacts of this trial on the prevention of wars in the future. Although he raises many questions, he does not provide any definite answers.

Author: Minear, Richard H. 
Victor’s Justice 
Publisher: Princeton University Press (1971)

▶The Tokyo war crimes trial was a political trial showing only the victor’s justice or an Anglo-Saxon justice

▶The Tokyo Trial (The International Military Tribunal in the Far East) was modeled after the Nuremberg trial for Nazi war criminals

▶The Charter for the Tokyo Trial was an executive decree of General Douglas MacArthur, acting under orders from the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff. This Charter’s legality was challenged repeatedly

▶The Big Four, France, Britain , the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., considered that the conventional international law was inadequate for punishing leaders of Germany and Japan, and thus their representatives created new crimes called “crimes against peace” and “crimes against humanity” in August 1945 for applying them retroactively.

▶All the judges were from those countries which suffered from attacks from the Japanese. No judge from neutral nations, nor from Japan

▶There was at least serious question to the Trial, and at most compelling evidence that the trial was a biased proceeding

This book is a serious challenge to the Tokyo War Crimes Trial undertaken by the Allied Powers after the Pacific War. By calling the entire trial as “Victor’s Justice,” the author, American scholar, rejects the legal justification of the trial. He gives a number of reasons for rejection:
(1) there was no basis for holding an international military trial in the international law at the time,
(2) the Charter for the trial was not approved by any reliable international authority but made simply by the commander of the occupation force,
(3) the principal crime, “crimes against peace,” was created by the representatives of the victorious nations in 1945, and applied retroactively to the deeds which took place in the 1930’s and the early 1940’s,
(4) all the judges were from the Allied nations without having anyone from neutral nation or the defeated ones,
(5) the Pact of Paris of 1928 was used dubiously as justification for criminalizing aggressors, and
(6) the principal charge to the national leaders for “conspiring” military conquest in Asia did not appear to have credible evidence.

Editor: Sato, Kazuo 
Tokyo Trial as Judged by Intellectuals (世界が裁く東京裁判)
Publisher: Meisai Publishing (1996)

▶The Tokyo Trial has been criticized by numerous intellectuals of the world for various reasons

▶If Japan is to be accused, other nations should also be accused

▶The Allied occupation policy was against the international law

▶War crimes committed by Allied nations were not indicted

▶The trial abused the international law

This book is a collection of views critical to the Tokyo trial which had been expressed by intellectuals in various countries who were familiar with the trial. The views were collected from 85 notable intellectual leaders of 14 countries. They equivocally expressed doubt about the plausibility of the Tokyo trial.
Three judges of the U.S. Supreme Court expressed doubt about this trial, and even the President of the Tokyo trial itself, Sir William Webb, expressed doubt about the nature of the trial. (p.168, p. 184). Notable American politicians such as Herbert Hoover, Dwight Eisenhower, Hamilton Fish, and Robert A. Taft expressed doubt.

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