70 Years Later: The International Military Tribunal for the Far East


On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the verdict of the Tokyo Trials, the International Nuremberg Principles Academy brought together more than 30 international leading experts from Asia and the western world in the historic Courtroom 600 of the Nuremberg Palace of Justice, at the premises of the Nuremberg Trials, from 17 to 19 May. The international conference is the largest event of its kind in Germany and Europe in 2018. It provided a unique opportunity to discuss the second significant post-war process at the very site of the Nuremberg Trials. The Tokyo Trials (1946-1948), together with the Nuremberg Trials (1945-1946) played a prominent role in modern international criminal law and in the later establishment of international criminal tribunals. For the first time, military and political leaders were individually held responsible for war crimes in these two trials.

"The wide range of experts and judges at international criminal courts that we gathered here allowed analyzing the Tokyo Trials from the points of views of various disciplines - in particular international criminal law and history, different countries and different legal systems," emphasized Klaus Rackwitz, Director of the International Nuremberg Principles Academy. "The International Nuremberg Principles Academy has thus succeeded in creating a forum for dialogue and perspectives in which the legacies of the Tokyo Trials could be presented extensively and with great commitment."

In a series of seven panels, the experts discussed the trial’s background and context, the similarities and differences of the tribunals in Tokyo and Nuremberg, substantive law and procedural law, obstacles and lessons learned, as well as the lasting impact that the Tokyo trial and judgment have had on current international criminal law issues. Specific topics of debate included, inter alia, the development of international research on this field and the importance of an interdisciplinary approach, the reception of Tokyo Trials inside and outside Japan, the selection and definitions of crimes adjudicated in the trials, the linguistic and interpretation dimensions, subsequent related trials, the influence of the Tokyo Trials on various crucial modern international criminal law doctrines and prominent international tribunals such as the International Criminal Court and the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

Yuma Totani, Professor of History, University of Hawaii delivered the keynote speech. Speakers of the conference were amongst others Navi Pillay, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Stephen J. Rapp, former U.S. Ambassador at Large for Global Criminal Justice, Sang-Hyun Song, former President of the International Criminal Court, David Cohen, Professor in Human Rights and International Justice, Stanford University, Robert Cryer, Professor of International and Criminal Law, University of Birmingham. Christoph Safferling, Professor of Criminal Law, Criminal Law Procedure, International Criminal Law and Public International Law at the Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, gave the closing remarks.

Please find the program and photos here.