Judgment at Tokyo: The Japanese War Crimes Trials

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9780813121772: Judgment at Tokyo: The Japanese War Crimes Trials

In the years since the Japanese war crimes trials concluded, the proceedings have been coloured by charges of racism, vengeance and guilt. In this controversial book, Tim Maga contends that in the trials good law was practiced and evil did not go unpunished. The defendents ranged from lowly Japanese Imperial Army privates to former prime ministers. Since they did not represent a government for which genocide was a policy pursuit, their cases were more difficult to prosecute than those of Nazi war criminals. In contrast to Nuremberg, the efforts in Tokyo, Guam and other locations throughout the Pacific received little attention by the Western press. Once the Cold War began, America needed Pacific allies and the atrocities committed by Japanese soldiers throughout the 1930s and early 1940s were rarely mentioned. The trials were described as phony justice and "Japan bashing". Keenan and his compatriots adopted criminal court tactics and established precedents in the conduct of war crimes trials that still stand. Maga reviews the context for the trials, recounts the proceedings, and concludes that they were, in fact, decent examples of American justice and fairy play.

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About the Author:

Tim Maga, Oglesby Professor of American Heritage at Bradley University and a former coordinator in the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, is the author of several books, including Hands Across the Sea? U.S.-Japan Relations, 1961-1981.

From Booklist:

Between 1946 and 1948, a large segment of Japan's wartime military and civilian leadership was tried for war crimes. The trials never received the publicity of the Nuremberg trials. Although the Nuremberg trials have generally been immune from reproach by historians, the Tokyo trials have frequently been criticized as "racist," "hypocritical," or an example of "victor's justice." The fact that Emperor Hirohito was granted de facto immunity enhanced the impression of unfairness. Maga, a professor of American heritage at Bradley University, has previously written extensively on U.S.-Japanese relations. He convincingly asserts that the Tokyo trials must be viewed separately from Nuremberg, since there were no accusations at Tokyo of a calculated plot of genocide. Given the limitations imposed by that fact, Maga believes that the trials were warranted and generally conducted fairly. Furthermore, the Tokyo trials set important precedents in establishing what factors constitute war crimes and how they can be effectively prosecuted. This is a provocative and timely work. Jay Freeman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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