** World War II -- International Military Tribunal at Tokyo

World War II International Military Tribunal at Tokyo

Figure 1.--This December 18, 1946 wire service photograph was captioned, "Listening in on Jap war crimes tria;: Tojyo, Japan Members of a class from the Tokyo school for Allied dependants sit in the visitors' section of the courtroom with ear phones on and listen to testimony at the war crime trial of 27 high-ranking Japanese in Tokyo. The 27 are being tried before an international military tribunal in the former war ministry building." This image of course raises the question of if Japanese school children observed the trils. We doubt if they did. Japanese schools were more interested in "shielding" their students from relevations of the enormity of Japanese war crimes. Today few Japanese students are aware of the atrocities their country committed in World War II.

The International Military Tribunal for the Far East, at Tokyo (composed of a judge from Australia, Britain, Canada, (Nationalist) China, France, India, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, the Soviet Union, and the United States) tried Japanese leaders. The Tokyo War Crimes Trial defendents included a select group of generals, admirals and diplomats. Many Japanese believed that after these trials, war criminals had been justly tried and punished. The Tokyo Trials had, however, been much more narrowly focused than the comparable abnd better known trials in Germany. General Douglas MacArthur commaded the occupation force ans substantially influenced the judicial priceedings. He concluded that it was necessary to maintain governmental continuity in the form of the Emperor. This became official U.S. Government policy. As a result, the procedutors in the War Crimes trials scrupulously avoided any mention of Emperor Hirohito. The defendants out of loyalty to the Emperior did the same, despite the fact that it would have helped their defenses to claim that they were following his orders. When Tojo told his lawyer that "the subjects of Japan can never say or do anything against His Majesty's will," the prosecutors convinced him not to say that on the stand. The U.S. Goverment decesion to exempt Emperor Hirohito from culpability for the War and ensuing war crimes lessened the need for serious examination in Japan of individual and national responsibility. Many Japanese continued to believe that the Wat was a legitimate attempt to defend the country. Few Japanese were informed of the full extent of the crimes commotted by the Jpanese military in occupied countries. Most Japanese citizens immediately after the War were focused on the immedite task of survival and challenges of rebuilding Japan after the sestructive Allied bombibng.


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Created: 4:05 PM 4/27/2009
Last updated: 4:06 PM 4/27/2009