Cover image for Judgment at Tokyo : the Japanese war crimes trials
Judgment at Tokyo : the Japanese war crimes trials
Maga, Timothy P., 1952-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Lexington, Ky. : University Press of Kentucky, [2001]

Physical Description:
xiv, 181 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
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KZ1181 .M34 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In the years since the Japanese war crimes trials concluded, the proceedings have been coloured by charges of racism, vengeance and guilt. In this controversial book, Tim Maga contends that in the trials good law was practiced and evil did not go unpunished.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Between 1946 and 1948, a large segment of Japan's wartime military and civilian leadership was tried for war crimes. The trials never received the publicity of the Nuremberg trials. Although the Nuremberg trials have generally been immune from reproach by historians, the Tokyo trials have frequently been criticized as "racist," "hypocritical," or an example of "victor's justice." The fact that Emperor Hirohito was granted de facto immunity enhanced the impression of unfairness. Maga, a professor of American heritage at Bradley University, has previously written extensively on U.S.-Japanese relations. He convincingly asserts that the Tokyo trials must be viewed separately from Nuremberg, since there were no accusations at Tokyo of a calculated plot of genocide. Given the limitations imposed by that fact, Maga believes that the trials were warranted and generally conducted fairly. Furthermore, the Tokyo trials set important precedents in establishing what factors constitute war crimes and how they can be effectively prosecuted. This is a provocative and timely work. --Jay Freeman

Choice Review

Maga (history, Bradley Univ.) presents the provocative thesis that, contrary to the now-standard view of the Tokyo war crimes trials as kangaroo courts carrying out "victor's justice" against the defeated, the trials were "decent examples of American justice and fair play," in which "good law was practiced." He also argues that the trials were necessary for the transition from an "evil" Japan to a "good" Japan after the war. Unfortunately, the author presents little evidence to support the assertions and his analysis is wanting; also, considerable attention is devoted in this very slim volume to trials outside of Tokyo which, while interesting, do not appear relevant to the main thesis. Written in a simplistic and often awkward style, the book is riddled with hackneyed and cliched expressions, which are unacceptable even in undergraduate term papers. Neither Japanese-language primary and secondary sources nor recent scholarship in English on the trials and Japanese treatment of POWs seems to have been consulted. In a discussion of the "legacy" of the Tokyo trials, the author ends with a jarring attack on the Clinton administration for its policy on Cambodia. Not recommended. M. D. Ericson University of Maryland University College