Sig­nif­i­cance of Tokyo Trial to to­day’s world

Break­through in global statute Only on the ba­sis of the Tokyo Trial can East Asian coun­tries build a new type of re­la­tion­ship char­ac­ter­ized by peace, devel­op­ment and co­op­er­a­tion.

China Daily (USA) - - VIEWS -

Edi­tor’s Note: To com­mem­o­rate the 70th an­niver­sary of the In­ter­na­tional Mil­i­tary Tri­bunal for the Far East, also known as the Tokyo Trial, Shanghai Jiao Tong Univer­sity in­vited 25 schol­ars from­coun­tries such as China, the United States, Ja­pan and the United King­dom to its In­ter­na­tional Aca­demic Fo­rum on Tokyo Trial andWorld Peace, which was held on Nov 12 to 13. Fol­low­ing are ex­cerpts from the speeches de­liv­ered by three schol­ars:

The Tokyo Trial is a found­ing stone of mod­ern in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions in East Asia. By bring­ing the Ja­panese war crim­i­nals to jus­tice, it set a prece­dent that peo­ple re­spon­si­ble for launch­ing ag­gres­sive wars should be pun­ished.

The Tokyo Trial was more than a trial. It is a le­gal record of the war crimes of im­pe­rial Ja­pan, and tells the world what kinds of atroc­i­ties the Im­pe­rial Ja­panese Army com­mit­ted in the name of ex­pand­ing the Ja­panese em­pire.

To­day, 71 years af­ter the end of WorldWar II, the trial’s records are an es­sen­tial tool to pre­vent some Ja­panese politi­cians from deny­ing Ja­pan’s mil­i­tary past.

The Tokyo Trial also teaches us the lessons of WWII by in­scrib­ing them in the form of law.

De­spite all this, it has de­fi­cien­cies. The then Ja­panese em­peror Hiro­hito was not made to face the trial, nor did it hold ac­count­able the Ja­panese busi­ness ty­coons who sup­ported, even ad­vo­cated, the ag­gres­sive war. As a re­sult, some war crim­i­nals re­turned to main­stream pol­i­tics un­der the pro­tec­tion of the US.

That’s es­sen­tially why rightwing Ja­panese politi­cians have been try­ing to re­ject the Tokyo Trial in re­cent years. For in­stance, they have been try­ing to deny the Nan­jingMas­sacre took place and mak­ing ef­forts to re­vise Ja­pan’s peace­ful Con­sti­tu­tion.

By re­view­ing the past, we aim to safe­guard the trend of peace and com­mon devel­op­ment to­day. So we must de­feat any de­signs to chal­lenge the Tokyo Trial, and de­fend the or­der es­tab­lished in East Asia based on it. Only on the ba­sis of the Tokyo Trial can East Asian coun­tries build a new type of re­la­tion­ship char­ac­ter­ized by peace, devel­op­ment and co­op­er­a­tion. Wang Xiao­qiu, a pro­fes­sor of his­tory at Pek­ing Univer­sity

Tri­als for war crimes forged a new part­ner­ship, no longer based on ex­trater­ri­to­ri­al­ity but equal­ity and shared diplo­matic val­ues. It is im­por­tant to think about early post­war Ja­pan as not only an oc­cu­pied na­tion but also a coun­try that sub­mit­ted to le­gal ad­ju­di­ca­tion by many for­mer colonies and oc­cu­pied lands. Cer­tainly one can see how the Ja­panese per­ceived them­selves as vic­tims, so di­vorced were they from their in­tox­i­cat­ing vi­sion of an em­pire. It is im­por­tant that China was among those judg­ing post­war Ja­pan be­cause the ac­tion brought into re­lief the fact that Ja­pan’s em­pire had crum­bled.

Ja­pan’s post­war Con­sti­tu­tion em­bod­ied those shared val­ues, but ad­min­is­tra­tive be­hav­ior took a longer time to fol­low suit. And herein lies the di­vided na­ture of post­war Ja­pan. The Ja­panese gov­ern­ment paid lip ser­vice to new modes of transna­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions— es­pe­cially the United Na­tions and the use of in­ter­na­tional law— and in­sisted that Tokyo was set to­ward peace­ful re­la­tions but do­mes­ti­cally such con­vic­tions ap­peared less fer­vent.

Dec­la­ra­tions about post­war Ja­pan’s in­ter­na­tional ori­en­ta­tion and sup­port for transna­tional agree­ments did not al­ways sit squarely with do­mes­tic prac­tice and po­lit­i­cal di­a­logue. These forces tended to strip away at an al­ready shak­enup and trans­formed post­war Ja­pan that had pre­vi­ously stood as the ar­che­typal “mod­ern” na­tion in East Asia. In­stead of lead­ing, post­war Ja­pan faced many tri­als for war crimes that flipped the for­mer im­pe­rial hi­er­ar­chy of the re­gion in which China now holds a le­gal up­per hand. Ja­pan, which had long since been the “mas­ter” of North­east Asia since the 1860s, had be­come the pupil. Barak Kush­ner, an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor on mod­ern Ja­panese his­tory at the Univer­sity of Cam­bridge

Had not the Al­lies emerged vic­tors against the Axis pow­ers, the Tokyo Trial would not have been held. How­ever, the Tokyo Trial is not, as some Ja­panese politi­cians dis­tort, some­thing the win­ner im­posed upon the loser.

The Tokyo Trial found the de­fen­dants guilty and handed them the pun­ish­ments they de­served. Their crimes, such as crime against peace and crime of war, are all heinous crimes against hu­man­ity, and their vic­tim was the en­tire hu­mankind. The Tokyo Trial set a prece­dent by bring­ing them to trial and con­firm­ing their crimes, which was a break­through in in­ter­na­tional law.

Af­ter the Tokyo Trial, the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity has es­tab­lished many spe­cial in­ter­na­tional tri­bunes, which have im­proved the prac­tice of the in­ter­na­tional ju­di­ciary. The ori­gin of all these in­ter­na­tional tri­bunes can be traced back to the Tokyo Trial and the Nurem­berg Trial, which re­spec­tively sen­tenced Ja­panese and Ger­man war crim­i­nals. The two tri­als have made ma­jor changes to the prin­ci­ple of in­ter­na­tional law by hold­ing in­di­vid­u­als ac­count­able for the crimes they com­mit­ted in the name of their state.

What China could learn from the Tokyo Trial is more than the in­ter­na­tional or­der and how to de­fend it. As a ris­ing power, China has a lot of eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal in­flu­ence. Now, it needs to gain in­flu­ence in in­ter­na­tional ju­di­ciary.

And China has solid ground to do so. It not only par­tic­i­pated in the Tokyo Trial, but also sup­ported the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil in es­tab­lish­ing the UN In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Tri­bunal for Rwanda and the Spe­cial Tri­bunal for Le­banon. As a per­ma­nent mem­ber of the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, China has veto pow­ers, so the two tri­bunals would not have been pos­si­ble with­out its sup­port.

The Nurem­berg and the Tokyo tri­als are the cra­dle of mod­ern ju­di­ciary; they paved the way to deal with in­ter­na­tional crimes. And China has made huge con­tri­bu­tions to the birth and devel­op­ment of mod­ern in­ter­na­tional ju­di­ciary. The two tri­als’ goal was also to safe­guard peace in all re­gions of the world, and China has made great con­tri­bu­tions to it. ZhuWenqi, a pro­fes­sor of in­ter­na­tional law at Ren­min Univer­sity of China


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