War Crimes Trials in Asia: Collaboration and Complicity in the Aftermath of War

Robert Cribb, Kerstin Von Lingen

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    In the years following the Second World War in Asia, the victorious Allied powers undertook an immense program of war crimes trials, charging Japanese political and military leaders, military personnel, and associated civilians with crimes against peace and with breaches of the laws and customs of war. The actions that were prosecuted included massacre, murder, torture, ill treatment, and withholding of food and medicine. The vast majority of trials were conducted in the immediate aftermath of war by individual Allied powers according to their own legislation and regulations. However, two features emerged. First, they were tightly bound to the issue of treason, which was not universalist at all but rather was embedded in the notion that each individual owes loyalty to a specific state. The distinction, however, between innocuous engagement, which amounted to no more than sustaining daily life, and collaboration, which actively assisted the enemy, was nowhere clear or certain. Second, the timing of an atrocity was crucial in whether it could be considered a war crime; also crucial was the nationality of perpetrators and victims. In the end, these limits led to profound dissatisfaction with the trials process, despite its vast scale and ambitious intentions.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationDebating Collaboration and Complicity in War Crimes Trials in Asia 1945-1956
    Editors Kerstin von Lingen
    Place of PublicationSwitzerland
    PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
    ISBN (Print)9783319531403
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


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