Tokyo Trial

Author:Jeffrey Lehman, Shirelle Phelps

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After WORLD WAR II eleven of the Allied Powers (Australia, Canada, China, France, India, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States) prosecuted twenty-eight of Japan's top military, political, and diplomatic leaders for an assortment of WAR CRIMES committed in Southeast Asia between 1928 and 1945. Known as the Tokyo trial for the city in which it took place, this legal proceeding stands along side the NUREMBERG TRIALS for its contribution to INTERNATIONAL LAW and the RULES OF WAR.

American involvement in World War II formally began on December 8, 1941, when the United States declared war on Japan, and formally ended on September 2, 1945, when the Japanese surrendered in Tokyo Bay aboard the USS Missouri. For more than a decade before the war, the Japanese military had been expanding its foothold on the Asiatic mainland. During the war itself, Japan invaded or attacked Burma, China, Indochina, the Philippines, Malaysia, Manchuria, Wake Island, Hong Kong, Singapore, and the Aleutians, committing an array of atrocities. The Tokyo trial was the Allies' effort to hold Japan responsible for its crimes during this period of military aggression.

The International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMT) was established on January 19, 1946, by order of General Douglas MacArthur, the supreme commander of Allied Forces in the South Pacific. MacArthur appointed eleven judges to preside, one from each of the Allied countries participating in the proceeding. All decisions made by the IMT were by majority vote, with MacArthur retaining plenary power over appeals. Because the vanquished government of Japan consented to the jurisdiction of

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Hideki Tojo?the highest ranking official prosecuted by the Allies during the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (aka the Tokyo Trial)?stands in the witness box (far right).


the IMT, the tribunal sidestepped some of the murkier legal issues confronting the judges at Nuremberg who had faced repeated challenges to their authority under international law.

Each of the participating Allied Powers was represented by a chief prosecutor and a support staff comprised of assistant prosecutors, investigators, and miscellaneous other personnel. The defendants were represented by over one hundred attorneys, three-quarters Japanese and one-quarter American, plus a support staff of their...

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