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In this new collection of essays the editors revisit the Tokyo War Crimes Trial with the express desire to engage in analysis beyond the familiar victor’s justice critiques. The editors have drawn on authors from across the world — including Australia, Japan, China, France, Korea, New Zealand and the United Kingdom — with expertise in the fields of international humanitarian law, international criminal law, Japanese studies, modern Japanese history, and the use of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. The diverse backgrounds of the individual authors allow the editors to present essays which provide detailed and original analyses of the Tokyo Trial from legal, philosophical and historical perspectives.
Several of the essays in the collection are based on the authors’ extensive archival research in Japan, Australia, the United States and New Zealand. This research provides rich insights into Japanese societal attitudes towards the Trial, the extent to which the Japanese Army conducted biological experimentation in China, the way the judges interacted with each other during the Trial, as well as the trial of Korean prison guards and prosecutions for rape and sexual assault before military tribunals in the post-war period. Some of the essays deal with particular participants in the Trial, with five essays examining the role of individual judges on the Tokyo Tribunal, and essays on the selection of defendants and the decision not to prosecute the Emperor. Other essays analyse the Trial from a legal perspective, and attempt to assess the impact which the Trial has had on particular legal principles, such as command responsibility. Still others focus on the conduct of the Trial, in particular with respect to conspiracy and war crimes. The majority of the essays seek to identify and address some of the ‘forgotten crimes’ in the Tokyo Trial. These include crimes committed in China and Korea (particularly the failure to prosecute the activities of the infamous Unit 731), crimes committed against comfort women, and crimes associated with the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the conventional firebombing of other Japanese cities and the illicit drug trade in China.
Finally, the collection includes a number of essays which consider the importance of studying the Tokyo Trial and its contemporary relevance. These essays include an examination of the way in which academics have ‘written’ the Trial over the last 60 years, and an analysis of some of the lessons that can be drawn for the conduct of international trials in the future.