Minear's book -- the first full-length treatment of the international war crimes tribunal held in Tokyo, 1946-48, in which...

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VICTORS' JUSTICE: The Tokyo War Crimes Trial

Minear's book -- the first full-length treatment of the international war crimes tribunal held in Tokyo, 1946-48, in which 25 of 28 selected defendants, all high ranking Japanese including Tojo and Hirota but not the Emperor, were found guilty of crimes against peace, etc. -- neatly complements David Bergamini's newsmaking Japan's Imperial Conspiracy (p. 832). Minear rips to shreds the logic underpinning the trial, contending that the Allies (i.e., the Americans) skewed the proceedings procedurally (""The presumption was of guilt, not of innocence"") and substantively by introducing legal concepts lacking established international precedence, e.g., making aggressive war per se illegal, charging criminal conspiracy and negative criminality, indicting for criminal retroactivity (alleged crimes antedating the outbreak of hostilities). Minear moreover seriously questions the historical assumptions concerning Japan's military aggression, believing rather that the country was motivated to attack for reasons of self-defense and fear of encirclement and that the trial's ""majority judgment is indeed merely a repetition of Allied propaganda issued during the war."" He concludes that all the Japanese leaders tried at Tokyo were legally innocent by standards established prior to World War II and urges a ""return to the international law of the period before 1945."" All of which is most interesting in light of Bergamini's revisionist theory that Emperor Hirohito was the chief architect of Nipponese militarism and should have been prosecuted as a war criminal along with the rest. The polemics of both Berga-mint's and Minear's studies mesh very well and certainly both will be read and debated.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 1971

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Princeton Univ. Press

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1971