Why the Records of WWII War Crimes Trials Matter to Us: The Allied War Crimes Prosecution in the Asia-Pacific Region, 1945-1951



Yuma Totani, University of Hawaii

Date and Time

April 18, 2013 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM



RSVP required by 5PM April 17.


Philippines Conference Room

In the wake of the V-J Day on August 14, 1945, eleven nations that had been at war with Japan established the International Military Tribunal for the Far East in the capital city, Tokyo, in order to hold wartime leaders of Japan accountable for the commission of aggression and atrocities against the people of China and other nations in the Asia-Pacific region. In addition to the Tokyo Tribunal, the Allied Powers set up additional war crimes courts at some 50 separate locations across the former theaters of war—in British Southeast Asia, China, the Dutch East Indies, French Indochina, the Philippines, and other Allied-controlled Central and South Pacific Islands. More than 2,240 trials involving some 5,700 suspected war criminals were carried out between 1945 and 1951.

Dr. Totani is currently working on a book project that explores a cross-section of these trials in order to assess their historical significance in our understanding of war, war crimes, war guilt, and issues of individual responsibility, justice, and the rule of law. In this talk, she will discuss the general trends of war crimes studies for the last seven decades or so in order to consider what present-day relevance there is, if any, in exploring the records of these historical trials for the further advancement of Asia-Pacific studies and, especially, in relation to the fields of law, history, international relations, and human rights.

Yuma Totani earned her Ph.D. in history at the University of California, Berkeley, in 2005. She authored The Tokyo War Crimes Trial: The Pursuit of Justice in the Wake of World War (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Asia Center, 2008) and produced its expanded Japanese-language edition, Tōkyō saiban: dai niji taisen go no hō to seigi no tsuikyū (Tokyo: Misuzu shobō, 2008). As a recepient of the Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowships for Recently Tenured Scholars (of ACLS) for 2012-2013, she is presently working on her new book project while based for residence at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University.

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