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war crimes trials

Series of military tribunals during and after World War II in which Japanese and German military and civilian leaders were tried by the victorious Allies for alleged war crimes. The trials of Japanese leaders culminated in the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (also known as the Tokyo Trial), held from 1946 to 1948, which formed a Pacific counterpart to the trials of Nazi leaders at Nuremberg in 1945-46. The term "war crimes" denotes activity in wartime that contravenes recognized standards of military conduct. Theoretically, it should include activities by any and all participants; however, in the aftermath of the war in the Pacific, only acts commited by the Japanese were considered. The Allies tried some 6,000 Japanese in several thousand "minor" trials. Twenty eight individuals (14 generals, 3 admirals, and 5 career diplomats) were tried in the Tokyo Trial. From the vantage point of recent history, some American historians have maintained that the postwar trials of Japanese war criminals can be explained but not justified. They point out that brutality was not confined to the Japanese side and that the Allies executed about 10 times as many Japanese as Germans on convential war crimes charges. (adapted from Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1993)

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