Japanese War Criminals: The Politics of Justice After the Second World War

Hardcover | February 14, 2017

bySandra Wilson, Robert Cribb, Beatrice Trefalt

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Beginning in late 1945, the United States, Britain, China, Australia, France, the Netherlands, and later the Philippines, the Soviet Union, and the People's Republic of China convened national courts to prosecute Japanese military personnel for war crimes. The defendants included ethnic Koreans and Taiwanese who had served with the armed forces as Japanese subjects. In Tokyo, the International Military Tribunal for the Far East tried Japanese leaders. While the fairness of these trials has been a focus for decades, Japanese War Criminals instead argues that the most important issues arose outside the courtroom. What was the legal basis for identifying and detaining subjects, determining who should be prosecuted, collecting evidence, and granting clemency after conviction? The answers to these questions helped set the norms for transitional justice in the postwar era and today contribute to strategies for addressing problematic areas of international law.

Examining the complex moral, ethical, legal, and political issues surrounding the Allied prosecution project, from the first investigations during the war to the final release of prisoners in 1958, Japanese War Criminals shows how a simple effort to punish the guilty evolved into a multidimensional struggle that muddied the assignment of criminal responsibility for war crimes. Over time, indignation in Japan over Allied military actions, particularly the deployment of the atomic bombs, eclipsed anger over Japanese atrocities, and, among the Western powers, new Cold War imperatives took hold. This book makes a unique contribution to our understanding of the construction of the postwar international order in Asia and to our comprehension of the difficulties of implementing transitional justice.

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Beginning in late 1945, the United States, Britain, China, Australia, France, the Netherlands, and later the Philippines, the Soviet Union, and the People's Republic of China convened national courts to prosecute Japanese military personnel for war crimes. The defendants included ethnic Koreans and Taiwanese who had served with the ar...

Sandra Wilson is professor of history in the School of Arts and a fellow of the Asia Research Centre at Murdoch University. She is the author of The Manchurian Crisis and Japanese Society, 1931-33 (2002).Robert Cribb is professor of Asian history at the Australian National University. He is author (with Li Narangoa) of the Historical ...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:440 pagesPublished:February 14, 2017Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231179227

ISBN - 13:9780231179225

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsNote on Names, Spelling, and TerminologyList of AbbreviationsIntroduction1. Defining War Crimes and Creating Courts2. Investigation and Arrest3. In Court: Indictment, Trial, and Sentencing4. Dilemmas of Detention and the First Misgivings5. Shifting Mood, Shifting Location6. Peace and Article 117. Japanese Pressure Mounts8. Finding a Formula for Release9. The Race to Clear SugamoConclusionNotesBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

The Allied authorities meted out retributive justice to thousands of Japanese war criminals in the immediate aftermath of World War II. However, "the sentences were only the start of a new phase in applying justice to war criminals," so this book warns us, and compels us to consider the implications of the complex interplay of domestic politics and diplomacy that led to the eventual release of all convicted war criminals