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Interpreting the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal

A Sociopolitical Analysis

Kayoko Takeda

Publication Year: 2010

In order to ensure its absolute authority, the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal (1946–1948), the Japanese counterpart of the Nuremberg Trial, adopted a three-tier structure for its interpreting: Japanese nationals interpreted the proceedings, second-generation Japanese-Americans monitored the interpreting, and Caucasian U.S. military officers arbitrated the disputes. The first extensive study on the subject in English, this book explores the historical and political contexts of the trial as well as the social and cultural backgrounds of the linguists through trial transcripts in English and Japanese, archival documents and recordings, and interviews with those who were involved in the interpreting. In addition to a detailed account of the interpreting, the book examines the reasons for the three-tier system, how the interpreting procedures were established over the course of the trial, and the unique difficulties faced by the Japanese-American monitors. This original case study of the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal illuminates how complex issues such as trust, power, control and race affect interpreting at international tribunals in times of conflict.

Published by: University of Ottawa Press

Series: Perspectives on Translation


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pp. i-ii

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. iii-iv


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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. 1-9

...“Impartiality and avoidance of conflict of interest” is a canon universally found in codes of ethics for court interpreters today. Some codes provide a list of circumstances that potentially create perceived or real conflicts of interest for interpreters, as when, for example, the interpreter is a friend, associate or relative of a party ...

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CHAPTER 1 The Trial

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pp. 10-15

China—met on July 26, 1945, and issued the Potsdam Declaration on the Japanese surrender. This document included a reference to the “stern justice” that was to “be meted out to all war criminals, surrender was broadcast to his subjects on August 15. The official ending of hostilities was marked when the Instrument of Surrender ...

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CHAPTER 2 The Interpreting Arrangements

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pp. 16-51

The aim of this chapter is to describe the overall interpreting arrangements at the Tokyo Trial in detail, including the languages used, how the court handled “non-official” languages, how the linguists were recruited and assigned, their compensation, their equipment, the modes of interpreting they engaged in, the challenges ...

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CHAPTER 3 Profiles of the Linguists

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pp. 52-66

...without the work of the interpreters. However, despite the critical linguists, with the exception of David Akira Itami, have remained largely unknown. This chapter focuses on the personal profiles of the main linguists who worked at the Tokyo Trial, in the hope of shedding light on political, social and cultural conditions in Japan ...

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CHAPTER 4 Hierarchy and Learning Process

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pp. 67-90

Broadly speaking, there were two major factors that contributed to the uniqueness of the process. The first is that, like the Nuremberg Tribunal, the Tokyo Tribunal was an unprecedented international court where novel language requirements had to be met. The other is the extraordinary circumstance that people who had once worked ...

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CHAPTER 5 Tojo's Testimony

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pp. 91-130

This chapter describes and analyzes the behaviour of the interpreters, monitors and language arbiter by focusing on the interpretation of the testimony given by General Hideki Tojo, who had been Prime (having taken office on October 18, 1941, and left office on July 18, 1944). The linguistic quality of the interpreting is not covered ...

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CHAPTER 6 Sociopolitical Perspectives

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pp. 131-146

...languages and cultures throughout the history of humanity. Indeed, the history of interpreting is much longer than that of translation, institutionalized in international settings until the middle of the 20th century, when the profession of conference interpreting started to be developed and the need for training of interpreters grew in response ...

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pp. 147-151

This book has described the interpreting arrangements at the Tokyo Trial and presented a sociopolitical analysis of their distinctive features and of the behaviour of some of the linguists, in particular during the testimony of Hideki Tojo. Drawing on a wide variety of materials, including previously classified documents and interviews ...


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pp. 152-159


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pp. 160-183

E-ISBN-13: 9780776619125
E-ISBN-10: 0776619128
Print-ISBN-13: 9780776607290
Print-ISBN-10: 0776607294

Page Count: 192
Publication Year: 2010

Series Title: Perspectives on Translation