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10 INTERPRETING THE TOKYO WAR CRIMES TRIAL THE TRIAL Toward the end of the Second World War, the leaders of three Allied nations—the United States, the United Kingdom and 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, including those who have visited cruelties upon prisoners.” Following the atomic bombings of Hiroshima on August 6 and of Nagasaki on August 9, Emperor Hirohito’s announcement of surrender was broadcast to his subjects on August 15. The official ending of hostilities was marked when the Instrument of Surrender was signed by representatives of the Japanese government on board the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945. The prosecution of war criminals had been discussed among the Allied nations in the early 1940s, and the United Nations War Crimes Commission had been established in October 1943 to start gathering evidence of war crimes. Based on its investigations, the Special Far Eastern and Pacific Committee of the War Crimes Commission recommended on August 25, 1945, that Japanese war CHAPTER 1 1. THE TRIAL 11 criminals be“surrendered to or apprehended by the United Nations for trial before an international military tribunal,” and, as Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers (SCAP), U.S. Army General Douglas MacArthur was given the authority to prepare for the establishment and operation of the Tribunal. The occupation of Japan by the Allied Powers started on August 28.MacArthur arrived in Japan as SCAP onAugust 30,and oneof thefirstoperationshedirectedwasthearrestandprosecution of Japanese war criminals. On September 11, MacArthur ordered the arrest of thirty-nine individuals suspected of having committed war crimes, including the former Prime Minister and War Minister General Hideki Tojo. More arrests followed. Within a few months, more than one hundred war crimes suspects were being detained in Sugamo Prison in Tokyo. Although the charter for the Nuremberg Trials had already been announced on August 8, it took months for the Tokyo counterpart to be established. Meanwhile, President HarryS.TrumanappointedJosephKeenan,formerheadof theU.S. Justice Department’s criminal division, to serve as chief prosecutor for the trial of Japanese war criminals. Keenan arrived in Japan on December 6 with a team of nearly forty lawyers and aides. Unlike at Nuremberg, where the United States, the United Kingdom, France and the Soviet Union each had its own prosecution team, there was a single prosecution team for Tokyo, led by Keenan and comprising representatives from eleven Allied nations. The International Prosecution Section was established on December 8, the fourth anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor according to the Japanese calendar, within the offices of the occupation headquarters (itself known as SCAP by this point). It was not until January 19, 1946, however, that the jurisdiction, functions and procedural guidelines of the Tribunal were announced, in the form of the Charter of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, commonly known as the Tokyo Charter. This charter had been drafted by the U.S. prosecution team, following the model of the Nuremberg Charter, and was approved and announced by MacArthur. It was later amended following consultations with the other Allied nations. 12 INTERPRETING THE TOKYO WAR CRIMES TRIAL With the charter in place, each of the nine signatories to the Japanese Instrument of Surrender nominated a judge, and MacArthur officially appointed these judges on February 15, 1946. They were from Australia, Canada, the Republic of China, France, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States. The Australian judge, Sir William Webb, was appointed President of the Tribunal, despite concerns that he had been the chief investigator of the Japanese army’s atrocities againstAustralian prisoners of war and might be regarded as biased against the Japanese defendants. He remained President of the Tribunal throughout the trial. Prompted by a call from the Far Eastern Commission, the Allied Powers’ highest policy-making agency for the occupation of Japan, for further representations on the bench, MacArthur amended the Tribunal’s charter on April 26 to add judges from India and the Philippines, making a total of eleven judges. As the International Prosecution Section interrogated “Class A” war crimes suspects in Sugamo Prison, Japanese lawyers were retained to represent them. Concerned about these lawyers’ unfamiliarity with the Anglo-American law of the Tribunal, on February 14 the Japanese government requested that MacArthur provide British and...


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