International Military Tribunal for the Far East
The International Military Tribunal for the Far East, also known as the Tokyo Trial or the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal, was a 1946 - 1948 military trial by WWII war victors, to try the leaders of the defeated Empire of Japan for claimed joint conspiracy to start and wage war (thus stating a conspiracy theory), conventional war crimes, and crimes against humanity. It was the Japanese equivalent of the International Military Tribunal during the Nuremberg trials.
Eleven of the Allied war victors (Australia, Canada, China, France, British India, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States) provided judges and prosecutors for the court. However, the United States provided the funds and staff necessary for running the Tribunal and also held the function of Chief Prosecutor, in charge of the only Allied prosecution team.
Two defendants died during the proceedings and one was ruled unfit to stand trial. All remaining defendants were found guilty of at least one count. Sentences ranged from seven years' imprisonment to execution.
More than 5,700 lower-ranking personnel were charged with conventional war crimes in separate trials.
Regarding the Attack on Pearl Harbor, see the article on this topic. As was also the case for Germany, the accusation of making aggressive war was used as a general justification for every questionable action done by the Allies during and after the war.
The Allies were not accused of making aggressive wars in relation to colonialism, notably in the same areas they accused Japan of making aggressive war.
The Indian participant and judge Radhabinod Pal raised substantive objections in a dissenting opinion: he found the entire prosecution case to be weak regarding the conspiracy to commit an act of aggressive war, which would include the brutalization and subjugation of conquered nations. About the Nanking Massacre—while acknowledging the brutality of the incident—he said that there was nothing to show that it was the "product of government policy" or that Japanese government officials were directly responsible. There is "no evidence, testimonial or circumstantial, concomitant, prospectant, restrospectant, that would in any way lead to the inference that the government in any way permitted the commission of such offenses," he said. In any case, he added, conspiracy to wage aggressive war was not illegal in 1937, or at any point since.
The Japanese imperial family was exonerated, related to beliefs that this would make the American occupation of Japan and related reforms of Japan easier. Furthermore, all remaining people apprehended and accused of "Class A" war crimes, involving the claimed conspiracy to wage aggressive war, who had not yet come to trial were set free by 1947 and 1948. By the end of 1958, all claimed Japanese war criminals were released from prison and politically rehabilitated, thus in practice often receiving surprisingly short punishments for claimed crimes.
Personnel of Unit 731 received immunity in exchange for data gathered from experiments on live prisoners.
The trial avoided making various accusations related to Japanese bombings, related to fears that the United States would be accused of crimes in relation to the massive bombings of Japanese cities and civilians, notably the Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Justice Röling stated, "[o]f course, in Japan we were all aware of the bombings and the burnings of Tokyo and Yokohama and other big cities. It was horrible that we went there for the purpose of vindicating the laws of war, and yet saw every day how the Allies had violated them dreadfully."
Various criticisms related to the Nuremberg trials may also apply.
- Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
- Attack on Pearl Harbor
- Nanjing Massacre
- Nuremberg trials
- The World Wars and mass starvation
- Why the United States Rejects the International Criminal Court - Including on stated American atrocities in the Pacific during WWII.