Online Panel Discussion and Book Launch: ‘The Tokyo Tribunal: Perspectives on Law, History and Memory’


The Nuremberg Academy held the live online launch of the third volume of the Nuremberg Academy Series, an anthology entitled The Tokyo Tribunal: Perspectives on Law, History and Memory edited by Viviane E. Dittrich, Kerstin von Lingen, Philipp Osten and Jolana Makraiová on 30 October 2020. The editors presented the book, which offers a contemporary rereading of the Tokyo Tribunal and thanked all contributors. The book focuses on the historical, legal, political and cultural significance of the trial that took place more than 70 years ago combining perspectives from law, history and social science.

The anthology contains chapters by the editors, Gerry Simpson, David M. Crowe, Diane Orentlicher, Diane Marie Amann, Kayoko Takeda, Yuma Totani, Robert Cribb, Donald M. Ferencz, Marina Aksenova, David Cohen, Narrelle Morris, Beatrice Trefalt, Sandra Wilson, Franziska Seraphim, Kuniko Ozaki and Christoph Safferling, in that order.

The book launch was followed by a panel discussion, moderated by Deputy Director Dr. Viviane Dittrich, with the participation of Professor Kerstin von Lingen (Universität Wien), Professor Philipp Osten, (Keio University), Professor Gerry Simpson, (London School of Economics and Political Science), and Professor Yuma Totani (University of Hawaii).

The panellists discussed contemporary perspectives on law and history and the evolving literature on the Tokyo Tribunal, officially named the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE), including the most important catalysts that led to the revival of multidisciplinary scholarship on the trial. The panel surveyed the vibrant research field that emanated in Japan decades ago, producing ground-breaking scholarship in Japanese and, following the turn of the millennium, the resurge of interest and burgeoning scholarship in English.

Moreover, transcultural dimensions of the tribunal, which consisted of 11 judges and respective national prosecution teams from 11 countries and cultural connotations of the justice dispensed, was also a focus of the panel. Another important topic discussed was the appreciation of the Tokyo Tribunal in Japan, how the trial has been remembered and written about and its role in contemporary debates on memory. The principle of individual criminal responsibility as applied at Tokyo, the comparative and distinctive nature of the procedural aspects of the trials held in Tokyo and Nuremberg, and the relevance of both tribunals on the development of modern international criminal law, was also appraised.

At the end of the panel discussion questions from the audience were answered, inter alia, on the dissent by Justice Pal and the controversies surrounding the trial, the particularities of the IMTFE compared to the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg as well as the significance of international criminal justice and the interplay of law and politics today.

You can download the e-book version of the book on the Nuremberg Academy website and order the print version of the book via the TOAEP website or online book sellers such as Amazon directly.

Watch the recording of the event here.