Tokyo War Crimes Trial

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The International Military Tribunal for the Far East

The Origins of the military tribunals that were created for trying war criminals after World War II began at a conference in London in 1942. The United Nations War Crimes Commission was established by the by the Saint James Declaration of 1942, the Moscow and Potsdam Declarations of 1943, and the London Agreement of 1945 to assemble files as to all known violations of the law of war.

The International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE) was established by terms of the Potsdam Declaration and its exercise of jurisdiction was expressly agreed upon by the Japanese government in the terms of Surrender in September 1945.

The IMTFE, also known as the Tokyo War Crimes Trial, or simply the Tokyo Trial, lasted three times longer than the Trial of the Major German War Criminals, commonly called the Nuremberg Trial. The transcripts of the proceedings in open session and in chambers, taken together with the separate opinions, consist of approximately 57,000 pages and, with the even longer full text of the Trial Exhibits and other documentation assembled for use during the trial, the English language text represents by far the largest collection of material that exists in any European language on Japan and on Japanese relations with the outside world during the critical period between 1927 and 1945.

The charter of the IMTFE was issued as an order together with a Special Proclamation by General Douglas MacArthur on January 19, 1946, in accordance with orders sent to him in October 1945 by the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States, afterward circulated to the Far Eastern Advisory Commission consisting of representatives of the Allied powers. General MacArthur, the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, by Special Proclamation established the Tribunal...