The Legacy of the Tokyo Trial
The Legacy of the Tokyo Trial
Abstract and Keywords
Since relevant political actors used the Tokyo Trial as a reference point, a critical reassessment of the trial holds the key to resolving the history problem. First, elements of victor’s justice in the trial need to be critiqued in light of the world-historical context of imperialism and colonialism. This critique will decrease ambivalence that many Japanese citizens feel toward the trial and help them accept Japan’s war crimes decisively. Second, Japan’s victimhood vis-à-vis war crimes of the Allied Powers need to be recognized. Such recognition will allow Japanese citizens to draw on their own victimhood to fully empathize with South Korean and Chinese victims and, in turn, help South Korean and Chinese citizens better understand Japan’s war commemorations. Third, the trial’s government-centered view on Japan’s past aggression needs to be challenged to clarify each Japanese citizen’s share of war responsibility and allow cosmopolitan contrition to become truly nationwide.
The preceding chapters have analyzed how East Asia’s history problem evolved through continuous struggles among relevant political actors competing for the legitimate commemoration of the Asia-Pacific War. These actors included the government, political parties, and NGOs in Japan; the governments, NGOs, and victims of Japan’s past wrongdoings in South Korea and China; and historians and educators from the three countries. They defined their commemorative positions by drawing differently on nationalism and cosmopolitanism and tried to influence Japan’s official commemoration by exploiting available mobilizing structures and political opportunities. I argue that one of the most important findings of this field analysis is a striking commonality between proponents of nationalism and cosmopolitanism: both used the Tokyo Trial as a reference point to articulate their commemorative positions.
Conservative politicians in Japan consistently rejected the Tokyo Trial. In the immediate postwar period, Yoshida Shigeru, Hatoyama Ichirō, and other conservative leaders treated the trial as invalid on a variety of policy issues, including the release of war criminals and compensation for injured veterans. This rejection of the trial was perpetuated by LDP politicians, including Abe Shinzō, who labelled the Tokyo Judgment as “victor’s justice” and insisted that “Class A, B, and C war criminals were not really criminals.”1 Similarly, conservative NGOs that worked with the LDP, such as the Japan Bereaved Families Association and JSHTR, rejected the “Tokyo Trial historical view” that blamed Japan alone for the Asia-Pacific War. Nationalist commemoration in Japan was thus consistently based on the rejection (p.130) of the Tokyo Judgment and, by the same token, the justification of Japan’s past aggression as a heroic act of self-defense.
Proponents of cosmopolitan commemoration, by contrast, accepted the Tokyo Judgment. Between the mid-1940s and the 1950s, the JSP and the JCP urged the conservative government to commemorate foreign victims of Japan’s past aggression by referring to war crimes that the Tokyo Trial had exposed. Left-leaning NGOs also pressed the government to compensate A-bomb victims based on the San Francisco Peace Treaty, which had accepted the judgment—since the Japanese government had started the war leading to the atomic bombings, it should take responsibility for A-bomb victims. Murayama Tomiichi’s official apology in 1995 was also consistent with the trial that had prosecuted Japan’s aggression.
Outside Japan, too, the governments and citizens of South Korea and China defined their commemorative positions in reference to the Tokyo Trial. They criticized Japanese prime ministers for visiting the Yasukuni Shrine where fourteen war time leaders, prosecuted as Class A war criminals at the trial, were enshrined. South Korea and China also blamed the history problem squarely on Japan, consistent with the Tokyo Judgment that had defined Japan as solely and entirely guilty of the Asia-Pacific War.2
Thus, the relevant political actors in the field of the history problem each defined their commemorative position, explicitly or implicitly, in relation to the Tokyo Trial. The possibility of resolving the history problem therefore depends on understanding why the trial became such a key reference point for the relevant political actors and entangled multiple threads of controversy over Japan’s past wrongdoings. In this chapter, then, I first situate the debates among the political actors, illustrated in the preceding chapters, within the wider context of how ordinary citizens, intellectuals, and historians in Japan grappled with the problematic legacy of the trial. I then illuminate how that legacy came to fuel nationalist commemorations both inside and outside Japan, while preventing the full realization of cosmopolitan commemoration.
Postwar Debates on the Tokyo Trial and War Responsibility
During the Occupation, the majority of Japanese citizens already had mixed feelings toward the Tokyo Trial. Take, for example, Peace Declaration Chapter One: Reflections on the Tokyo Trial (Heiwa sengen dai 1-shō: Tokyo Saiban oboegaki) published in April 1949 by Nomura Masao, an Asahi shinbun reporter who had covered the trial. Nomura praised the trial for “proving (p.131) that … a war of aggression is the biggest crime in the world and, therefore, leaders who plan and start it shall be sentenced to death by hanging.”3 At the same time, he recognized many difficulties of the trial, for “even the eleven judges could not reach consensus. … In fact, these difficulties in the Tokyo Trial are indicative of those facing the entire world today. The trial deals with all sorts of questions about war and peace. What exactly is a war of aggression (shinryaku sensō)? Can we really attain universal justice when only the vanquished are prosecuted?”4 Similarly, Takigawa Seijirō, a former defense attorney at the trial, acknowledged Japan’s war time atrocities and urged Japanese citizens, especially critics of the trial, not to turn back to prewar nationalism, though he thought of the trial as a “farce” whose storyline had been decided by the Allied powers.5 As political scientist Ōnuma Yasuaki pointed out, neither complete acceptance nor complete rejection of the Tokyo Trial was widespread in the immediate postwar period.6
Concurrently, Japanese intellectuals debated war responsibility (sensō sekinin) more generally—how to distribute responsibility among Emperor Hirohito, politicians, intellectuals, and citizens—in conjunction with the Tokyo Trial.7 Their debates often used as their reference point Karl Jaspers’s The Question of German Guilt, which delineated four types of war guilt: criminal guilt of those who actually committed war crimes; political guilt of leaders and citizens who supported the war; moral guilt that individuals could only voluntarily feel by critically reflecting on their war time behaviors; and metaphysical guilt in the eyes of God.8 Perhaps Tsurumi Shunsuke, a professor of philosophy at Tokyo Institute of Technology, was the best-known intellectual who drew on Jaspers to examine Japan’s war responsibility. Soon after the Occupation ended, Tsurumi observed, “Precisely because an examination of war responsibility as a legal issue is now concluded, I think that every one of us should examine our own war responsibility and give new directions to our morality (rinri). I doubt that the issue [of war responsibility] can be terminated simply by making Mr. Tōjō a scapegoat.”9 In January 1959, Tsurumi also published “The Problem of War Responsibility” (Sensō sekinin no mondai) to criticize the tendency among Japanese intellectuals and citizens to discuss war responsibility either in the legal-criminal or religious-metaphysical sense without adequately examining their political and moral guilt as individual members of prewar Japan.10
While Tsurumi emphasized the moral perspective on war responsibility as a participant in the Asia-Pacific War, Maruyama Masao, one of the most prominent political theorists in the postwar era, discussed war responsibility (p.132) mostly in the political sense. Given his theory of ultranationalism, which explained Japan’s past aggression in terms of the emperor-centered polity that dominated individual psychological processes,11 Maruyama attributed war responsibility mostly to government leaders who had been closely associated with the emperor and practically absolved the majority of Japanese citizens of war responsibility.12 By contrast, Maruyama’s younger critic, celebrated writer Yoshimoto Takaaki, thought that older generations, including Maruyama, bore war responsibility in the sense of having failed to resist the emperor-centered polity.13 Nevertheless, Yoshimoto also failed to critically reflect on his own generation’s war responsibility because he ultimately attributed the Japanese military’s cruelty, and even the origin of the emperor-centered polity itself, to the impersonal “folk customs” of the Japanese people.14 Whether focusing on the emperor or the folk, much of the postwar debate on Japan’s past aggression did not adopt the moral perspective to probe into war responsibility of individual citizens, as Tsurumi tried to do by following Jaspers.
Tsurumi also brought another new perspective on Japan’s past aggression. In January 1956, he published “Intellectuals’ War Responsibility” (Chishikijin no sensō sekinin) and proposed the concept of the “Fifteen-Year War” that designated the 1931 Mukden Incident as the beginning of the war that had ended in August 1945.15 This was a significant departure from the concept of the “Pacific War,” popularized during the Occupation, that focused on Japan’s war with the United States, for the “Fifteen-Year War” foregrounded Japan’s victimization of China. Tsurumi further reinforced Japan’s identity as a perpetrator in the Asia-Pacific War by organizing the Citizen’s League for Peace in Vietnam with his colleagues, including the activist and writer Oda Makoto, and criticizing Japan’s complicity in the Vietnam War.16
Ienaga Saburō, too, endorsed the concept of the Fifteen-Year War both in his history textbooks and through his textbook lawsuits in the 1960s. Two of Ienaga’s essays, “The Fifteen-Year War and Pal’s Dissenting Opinion” (15-nen Sensō to Pal Hanketsusho) in November 1967 and “A Tentative Argument on the International Military Tribunal for the Far East” (Kyokutō Saiban ni tsuiteno shiron) in August 1968, emphasized the continuity between Japan’s aggression against China and Japan’s war with the United States.17 Ienaga, however, also expressed ambivalence toward the Tokyo Trial: “Since the victors judged the vanquished, the former’s war crimes were exempted, and only the latter’s war crimes were prosecuted. … In this regard, it is difficult to deny that the trial was imperfect as a mechanism of (p.133) ‘justice and fairness.’”18 Although Ienaga dedicated much of his career to exposing Japan’s war crimes, he was also deeply troubled by the failure to prosecute the atomic bombings by the United States and atrocities committed by the Soviet Union against Japanese civilians and soldiers.19
Here, Ienaga’s discussion of Japan’s past wrongdoings vis-à-vis the Tokyo Trial was part of the incipient intellectual movement in the 1960s that began to connect discussion of war responsibility with a critical assessment of the trial. This movement was initiated by Takeuchi Yoshimi, a writer and China scholar, who published “Overcoming Modernity” (Kindai no chōkoku) and “On War Responsibility” (Sensō sekinin ni tsuite), in 1959 and 1960, respectively. By observing arguments advanced by Tsurumi, Maruyama, and others, Takeuchi argued,
In both German and Japanese cases, prosecutors argued that Germany and Japan had waged wars of aggression, and these wars were aggression against civilizations. The judgments supported this argument, but I am skeptical about them. At the same time, I cannot accept the argument that the plaintiffs and defense lawyers made at the Tokyo Trial—namely, Japan waged a war of self-defense, not of aggression. … I therefore conclude that the Japanese are responsible for the war of aggression [against Asian countries], but the Japanese should not be held responsible one-sidedly for the war between the imperial powers (tai teikokushugi sensō).20
Takeuchi’s intervention notwithstanding, the debate on the Tokyo Trial among Japanese intellectuals remained limited, and it tended to be philosophical, lacking empirical investigation of the trial as a historical event.
Around 1980, however, the intellectual debate on the Tokyo Trial finally took off, as a growing number of legal scholars and historians began to study the trial empirically. In 1979, professors of law and history, librarians, and journalists in Japan created the Tokyo Trial Study Group (Tokyo Saiban Kekyūkai), which held meetings to discuss historical facts and implications surrounding the trial.21 Moreover, B. V. A. Röling, one of the eleven judges at the trial, published two edited volumes on the trial in 1977, and R. John Pritchard, a historian based in London, began to edit and publish the trial proceedings in 1981. These activities inside and outside Japan led to the International Symposium on the Tokyo Trial in Tokyo in May 1983 to mark the thirty-fifth anniversary of the Tokyo Judgment. This symposium enlisted nineteen participants, including some of the foremost (p.134) experts on the history of the Asia-Pacific War and international law, such as Awaya Kentarō, Ōnuma Yasuaki, Ienaga Saburō, R. John Pritchard, Richard Minear, and B. V. A. Röling.22
Reflecting on the two-day symposium, one of the organizers, Andō Nisuke, a professor of international law at Kobe University, summed up the task for Japanese historians and citizens in terms of going beyond the dichotomous view of the Tokyo Trial:
One position is to accept the majority opinion based on the prosecutors’ argument, and condemn the aggressive nature of the Japanese government’s action and the cruelty of the Japanese military’s behaviors. The other is to completely reject the majority opinion by invoking the defense team’s argument and, in particular, Justice Pal’s argument that the Japanese government and military merely engaged in unavoidable acts of self-defense, and Japan was therefore not guilty. However, I suspect that the truth lies in the middle of these two positions. … In short, what the Japanese should do is not to take the black- and -white, categorical approach toward the Tokyo Trial but instead to consider the entirety of the trial as objectively as possible and distinguish elements of the trial that we should use for future cases from those that we should not.23
Such rejection of the dichotomous view consolidated in the 1990s. Even Fujioka Nobukatsu and his colleagues in the Liberal Historical Research Group at least initially attempted to critique the dichotomy.24 In fact, while extremists on both the left and the right continued to adopt the dichotomous view, its rejection seemed to be firmly entrenched among younger generations of historians on both sides of the political spectrum. Take, for example, Ushimura Kei (born in 1959) and Higurashi Yoshinobu (born in 1962), two of the most prominent right-leaning Japanese historians in the younger generation. Ushimura is currently a professor at the International Research Center for Japanese Studies, and Higurashi is a professor at Teikyō University. Ushimura published Beyond the “Judgment of Civilization”: the Intellectual Legacy of the Japanese War Crimes Trials, 1946–1949 (“Bunmei no sabaki” wo koete: tainichi senpan saiban dokkai no kokoromi) in 2001, while Higurashi published International Relations of the Tokyo War Crimes Trial: Power and Norms in International Politics (Tokyo Saiban no kokusai kankei: kokusai seiji ni okeru kenryoku to kihan) in 2002. These works propelled Ushimura and Higurashi to the status of foremost experts on the trial in (p.135) Japan. Despite their differences, Ushimura and Higurashi shared the same position on the Tokyo Judgment: it was neither the “judgment of civilization” nor “victor’s justice.”25 Both Ushimura and Higurashi rejected the binary opposition in favor of a more empirically rigorous approach to understanding the trial in its full complexity and ambiguity.
Ushimura was particularly vocal in his criticism of “historically uninformed, narrow-minded nationalists who tried to argue that Japan was not guilty on all accounts.”26 Even though Ushimura took a sympathetic stance toward JSHTR members, including his former teacher Nishio Kanji, he blamed older generations of Japanese intellectuals for having approached the Tokyo Trial historical view as a moral, rather than empirical, problem. He also criticized Japanese nationalists who refused to listen to criticisms from abroad. Instead, he insisted that it was crucial to approach the international controversy surrounding the Tokyo Trial with “empathy—an act of thoroughly placing oneself in the other’s position, no matter how difficult it may be.”27 Ushimura consistently promoted an empirically grounded approach to understanding both the history of the Asia-Pacific War and its divergent commemorations by different groups of actors.
While Ushimura and Higurashi represented voices from the right of the political spectrum, similar calls for a more rigorous approach were also heard from the younger generation of left-leaning Japanese historians. For example, Totani Yuma (born in 1972), a professor of history at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, published The Tokyo War Crimes Trial: The Pursuit of Justice in the Wake of World War II (Tokyo Saiban: Dai Niji Taisen go no hō to seigi no tsuikyū) in both Japanese and English in 2008. She worked with Kasahara Tokushi and Yoshida Yutaka, two of the most prominent Japanese historians of Japan’s war crimes, and collaborated with an international team of scholars critically exploring the potentials and limitations of the Tokyo Trial as a model for international criminal justice in the con temporary world.28 In this regard, Totani followed in the footsteps of older left-leaning scholars in Japan, but she also tried to inject more empirical rigor into the debate and challenged the existing research on the trial by drawing on hitherto unused archival materials.
To be sure, historians have no authority to change the judicial judgment of the Tokyo Trial, but they can nonetheless problematize its historical judgment. As Paul Ricoeur observed, judges must decisively rule upon and close cases, something historians can never do. Historians must always submit historical facts and interpretations “to the critique of the corporation (p.136) of historians … to an unending process of revision, which makes the writing of history a perpetual rewriting. This openness to rewriting marks the difference between a provisional historical judgment and a definitive judicial judgment.”29 A critical reassessment of this kind offers a crucial first step in resolving East Asia’s history problem by helping to disentangle commemorative positions of relevant political actors from the problematic Tokyo Judgment.
Beyond “Victor’s Justice”: Collectively Confronting the Imperial Past
One of the most problematic elements in the historical judgment of the Tokyo Trial concerns “war responsibility,” that is, responsibility for causing the Asia-Pacific War. The Tokyo Trial historical view blames Japan solely and entirely for the wars with China and the Allied powers between 1931 and 1945 and presents Japan’s actions as self-propelled by taking them out of their specific historical contexts. From a long-term perspective, however, Japan’s actions were deeply embedded in the historical context of the Western imperial domination of Asian countries. At the 1983 international symposium on the Tokyo Trial, for example, Yu Xinchun, a Chinese professor of Japanese history at Nankai University, argued, “From the Chinese perspective, the victor countries—Britain, the Netherlands, France, and the United States—are all ‘thieves,’” though he pointed out that Japan had been the most horrible thief from the 1920s onward. Yu was disappointed with the limited scope of the trial, but he was also certain that “in the long run, humankind will surely put colonialism on trial.”30 From a short-term historical perspective, too, the Japanese government had not planned to launch attacks on the Allied powers when it invaded Manchuria in 1931. Japan’s act of entering war with the Allied powers was contingent on a nonlinear sequence of decisions that the Japanese government took by responding to the Allied powers’ economic sanctions and the changing political and military situation in Eu rope.31 In this sense, agency for causing the war was distributed among multiple actors—Japan, the United States, Britain, and so on—even though Japan no doubt had the largest share in this collective agency.32
Yet, this collective distribution of agency vis-à-vis war responsibility was impossible because of the structure of the Tokyo Trial, whereby the victor countries prosecuted the vanquished. Collective distribution of the cause of the war would have risked allowing Japan to evade its responsibility and, more importantly, would have called into question the narrative of the “good (p.137) war,” which created positive identity for the Allied powers, especially for the United States. According to Röling, “a trial in which vanquished and victors should both be held in judgment” was impossible, given geopolitics and international laws at the time.33 Indeed, legal mechanisms to authorize such a trial still do not exist today. In essence, then, the Tokyo Judgment was itself a nationalist commemoration that eliminated ambiguities of the past and legitimated the particular version of the past that favored the Allied powers.
It is thus hardly surprising that the Tokyo Trial historical view made the majority of Japanese citizens ambivalent and angered Japanese nationalists to brand the judgment as “victor’s justice.” In fact, participants in the trial knew that the trial was unfair. In May 1946, Ben Bruce Blakeney, a defense attorney for the Class A war crime suspects, questioned why killing in war by the Allied powers was considered legal, whereas the same act by Japan was prosecuted as criminal. He then brought up the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and argued that if the Japanese generals who had planned the attack on Pearl Harbor were to be prosecuted for murder, the chief of staff who had planned the atomic bombing of Japan and the pi lot who had dropped the bomb should be prosecuted as well.34 This problem of victor’s justice was most forcefully criticized by the Indian judge Radhabinod Pal in his dissenting opinion: “If it is really law which is being applied I would like to see even the members of the victor nations being brought before such tribunals. I refuse to believe that had that been the law, none of the victors in any way violated the same and that the world is so depraved that no one even thinks of bringing such persons to book for their acts.”35 Even Röling, who disagreed with Pal and firmly believed that the trial was an important milestone in the development of international law, admitted that the trial had elements of victor’s justice: “Of course, in Japan we were all aware of the bombings and the burnings of Tokyo and Yokohama and other big cities. It was horrible that we went there for the purpose of vindicating the laws of war, and yet saw every day how the Allies had violated them dreadfully.”36
Nevertheless, the fact that the Tokyo Judgment had elements of victor’s justice does not justify the Japanese nationalist position that Japan, therefore, committed no war crimes.37 The two wrongs—the acts of aggression committed by Japan and the Allied powers—do not make a right. Instead, as philosopher Ashis Nandy pointed out, “Culpability, Pal sought to argue in his Tokyo judgment, could never be divisible and responsibility, even (p.138) when individual, could paradoxically be fully individual only when seen as collective and, in fact, global.”38 But elements of victor’s justice prevented such articulation of Japan’s share of war responsibility with the actions of the Allied powers.
Such distribution of war responsibility would also create a new set of challenges. To begin with, it would risk obscuring the legal and moral responsibility of Japan. This risk is compounded by the failure to adequately inform Japanese citizens of their country’s war crimes. During and after the Occupation, SCAP decided not to disseminate the trial proceedings widely, while Japanese newspapers focused on counterarguments that the defendants put forward.39 This allowed the majority of Japanese citizens to underestimate the extent of the suffering that Japan had inflicted upon people in the Asia-Pacific. As Totani Yuma pointed out, a large amount of the evidence for Japan’s war time atrocities that prosecutors submitted to the tribunal still needs to be analyzed, and scholars have yet to tap into a vast corpus of “the records of national war crimes trials that individual Allied governments held in the Pacific region after the war. There were more than 2,200 trials against some 5,600 war crimes suspects at 51 locations in Australia, Burma, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and on other Pacific islands.”40 The idea of collective agency in causing the Asia-Pacific War thus risks letting Japan discount its war responsibility even further.
More importantly, collective distribution of war responsibility would challenge the former Allied powers to face up to their own history of imperialist aggression and colonial rule and to problematize their triumphant, nationalist commemorations. As John Dower and other historians have demonstrated, the Asia-Pacific War was a war between imperial powers embracing racist ideologies as well as between fascist and liberal-democratic countries.41 But it is difficult for the former Allied powers to admit the wrongs of their imperialist aggression because they have remained dominant over their former colonies since the war’s end. To be sure, at the 2001 World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in South Africa, some Western countries expressed “regret” for the fact that “colonialism has led to racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, and that Africans and people of African descent, and people of Asian descent and indigenous peoples were victims of colonialism and continue to be victims of its consequences.”42 However, the former imperial powers have yet to offer clear apologies and compensation (p.139) for their former colonial subjects who later formed their own independent nation-states.43 So long as the former Allied powers remain reluctant to fully confront their imperial past that contributed to an outbreak of the Asia-Pacific War, Japanese nationalists will continue to regard the Tokyo Judgment as victor’s justice, and the majority of Japanese citizens will likely retain their ambivalence toward it.
In fact, the Tokyo Trial’s failure to confront colonialism obstructed Japan’s commemoration of the suffering of Asians, most of whom had been colonial subjects in the first half of the twentieth century.44 As historian Awaya Kentarō has argued, since the Allied powers sought to maintain their colonial rule after the Asia-Pacific War, war crimes that Japan had committed against Koreans and other colonial subjects were not adequately prosecuted.45 As a result, many Japanese citizens forgot Japan’s prewar history as an imperial power vis-à-vis the wrongs that Japan had committed in the countries that it had invaded and occupied.46 This “amnesia” of Japan’s imperial past exacerbated the history problem because it prevented Japanese citizens from understanding the depth of anger that South Korean and Chinese citizens felt toward Japan’s past wrongdoings. Especially for South Koreans, Japan’s colonial rule is integral to their commemoration of the war. As Lee Jong Wong, a law professor at Rikkyō University, pointed out, “The history problem between the Korean Peninsula and Japan originates from the colonial rule, not from the war. This is one of the factors that has complicated the history problem between Japan and South Korea and delayed reconciliation—the question is whether or not colonial rule can become an object of compensation and apology.”47 China, too, suffered from imperialist aggressions by the West and Japan and, consequently, Chinese history education emphasizes the importance of building a strong Chinese nation in order to prevent another national humiliation.48 Put another way, the world-historical perspective on imperialism and colonialism is the key to helping Japanese citizens fully commemorate Japan’s past wrongdoings and understand South Korean and Chinese commemorations.
To effectively recontextualize Japan’s past aggression in the world history of imperialism and colonialism, I suggest that Japan’s official commemoration be revisited from its margins. Take, for example, Korean soldiers who fought in the Japanese military. After the war’s end, a total of 148 Koreans were prosecuted at war tribunals across the Asia-Pacific, and twenty-three of them were sentenced to death.49 When Japan regained independence in April 1952, twenty-nine Koreans were still serving their sentence at (p.140) Sugamo Prison, even though they had lost Japanese citizenship upon the signing of the San Francisco Peace Treaty.50 After release from prison, these Korean veterans formed an association to seek relief from the Japanese government: even though they had fought for Japan, they were ineligible for military pensions because they were no longer Japanese citizens.51 Similarly, bereaved families of Korean soldiers received no relief from the Japanese government.
Opposition parties noticed this problem and occasionally pressed the government to provide pensions and other relief for former military-related personnel and their bereaved families, irrespective of citizenship. During the 1962 Diet session, for example, Ukeda Shinkichi of the Democratic Socialist Party argued, “Bereaved families of Japanese war gods receive relief from the government. Speaking of Koreans who fought and died as Japanese soldiers, by contrast, their parents, wives, and children who live in Japan receive no relief or pensions. I think this is a very serious problem.”52 Eventually, in June 2000, the Japanese government provided one-time condolence money for Korean veterans and bereaved families who had become permanent residents in Japan: 2.6 million yen for a bereaved family and four million yen for a severely injured veteran.53 The government, however, maintained that all issues of compensation had been resolved upon the 1965 Basic Treaty. Condolence money was therefore offered on the “humanitarian ground in light of the plight of aging Koreans who served in the Japanese imperial military.”54
While the Japanese government treated South Korean veterans and bereaved families differently from their Japanese counter parts, the Yasukuni Shrine treated them as the same by honoring 21,181 Koreans as war gods.55 This angered South Korean bereaved families. In April 1978, a South Korean resident in Tokyo protested against the shrine, arguing, “My brother went to war only reluctantly. Even after South Korea became independent, my brother is still enshrined as a war god at Yasukuni. This does not let my brother rest in peace.”56 In response, the Yasukuni Shrine insisted that it was impossible to nullify the enshrinement: “When they died, they were Japanese. It is impossible for them to cease to be Japanese after they died. Since they fought and died, hoping that they would be honored at the Yasukuni Shrine, we cannot de-enshrine them simply upon requests from their bereaved families. It is also only natural to enshrine them because they willingly cooperated with the war effort and wanted to fight as Japanese.”57 JSP member Hirota Koichi clearly saw the contradiction in this: “These Koreans … (p.141) followed orders of the Japanese government and died in fighting. They are enshrined at the Yasukuni Shrine. … But their families have received no compensation whatsoever because the Japanese government says they are not Japanese.”58 The government, however, continued to argue that the citizenship requirement made it impossible to apply the Military Pension Act and the Act on Relief for the Injured Veterans and Bereaved Families to foreign veterans and bereaved families.59
This contradiction in Japan’s nationalist commemoration has been increasingly exposed in recent years. After Koizumi visited the Yasukuni Shrine in August 2001, bereaved families and war victims from both inside and outside Japan filed five different lawsuits to challenge the constitutionality of the prime minister’s visit. The lawsuit at the Tokyo District Court, for example, included 724 South Koreans as plaintiffs.60 At one of the court hearings, in February 2003, Kim Gyeong Suk, a former forced laborer and chairman of the Association of South Korean Victims and Bereaved Families of the Pacific War, forcefully criticized the contradiction: while the Japanese government offered no compensation for South Korean bereaved families, “the Yasukuni Shrine honors Korean war dead without asking permissions from their bereaved families. … Does Japan want to keep forcibly drafting our relatives even after their death?”61
Here, the focus on these South Korean veterans, bereaved families, and other marginalized victims can illuminate the real extent to which the Japanese government failed to recognize the suffering of foreign victims and, more importantly, how this failure angered the victims. It is difficult, however, to make Japanese citizens fully confront Japan’s imperialist past simply by collectively distributing the responsibility for the Asia-Pacific War between Japan and the Allied powers in light of the world-historical context of imperialism and colonialism. To be sure, such distribution of war responsibility can reduce the resentment toward victor’s justice among Japanese nationalists and ease the ambivalence among the majority of Japanese citizens. But the resentment and ambivalence runs deeper, for the elements of victor’s justice in the Tokyo Trial were reinforced by the failure to prosecute atrocities that the Allied powers had committed against Japan.
Beyond Victim Consciousness: Doubling Japan’s Identity as Perpetrator and Victim
Needless to say, Japan was a perpetrator in relation to South Korea and China. At the same time, hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians (p.142) suffered from the fire bombings and the atomic bombings, and atrocities were also committed against Japanese civilians fleeing Manchukuo and other former colonies. Nearly six hundred thousand Japanese soldiers were also forced to work at labor camps in Siberia after the end of the Asia-Pacific War, and approximately sixty thousand died in the camps.62 Nonrecognition of these Japanese casualties breeds a sense of injustice among Japanese citizens. In 2007, for example, DPJ member Matsubara angrily reacted to US House of Representatives House Resolution 121, wherein American politicians asked the Japanese government to apologize to former comfort women. Matsubara argued, “The United States has never apologized for the atomic bombings and fire bombings of Tokyo, killing innocent civilians systematically. But they ask us to apologize to former comfort women. Is this not a contradiction?”63
Importantly, historians and educators in South Korea and China began to recognize Japan’s victimhood. A History to Open the Future, for example, included extensive descriptions of Japanese victims of the atomic bombings and other atrocities. This inclusion was a significant departure from mainstream history textbooks used in South Korea and China—none of the South Korean history textbooks prior to the 2000s had mentioned the atomic bombings, while some Chinese history textbooks had begun including only very short references to the events in the mid-1990s.64 The joint history textbook project therefore offered an important corrective to the nationalist commemorations in South Korea and China. Yao Bao, a history professor at Shanghai International Studies University, underscored the necessity of such a corrective: “When the victim accuses the perpetrator, the former should be careful not to exaggerate the latter’s guilt. … Many perpetrators are simultaneously victims. Those perpetrators sometimes suffer from more serious damages than some members of the victim country. … From the victim country’s perspective, this may serve justice. But, from the humanitarian perspective, members of the victim country should extend pity and empathy to the perpetrators to a certain extent.”65
This recognition of Japan’s victimhood was perhaps most clearly expressed by Park Yu Ha, a professor of Japanese studies at Sejong University. In her 2005 book, For Reconciliation, she critically examined the nature of solidarity between Japanese and South Korean NGOs over various issues, such as apology and compensation for South Korean victims and JSHTR’s history textbook. Park’s inquiry was motivated by her uneasiness with the way Japanese NGOs “turned a blind eye to Korean nationalism when cooperating (p.143) with South Korean NGOs” and questioned whether Japanese NGOs in effect “helped Korean nationalism escalate and added fuel to the conflict by single-mindedly demanding Japan should apologize.”66 Specifically, she criticized the South Korean nationalist commemoration that dehumanized the Japanese other and pointed out the importance of recognizing how Japan, too, had suffered during the Asia-Pacific War:
The Soviet Army used more than 500,000 Japanese soldiers as forced laborers in Siberia after they had entered war with Japan at the final stage of World War II. The United States carried out the large-scale aerial bombing of Tokyo and killed 100,000 people over a single night. But these acts by the Allied powers were never officially prosecuted. In this regard, it is not surprising that many Japanese still believe that the Tokyo Trial was simply victor’s justice, and that Japan was a victim unfairly punished. A true critique must be based on universal values and therefore requires South Koreans to understand those feelings on Japan’s part.67
Here, I agree with Park that it is crucial for relevant political actors in the history problem, especially those in South Korea and China, to fully acknowledge the problematic nature of the historical judgment of the trial. Such acknowledgement is likely to ease ambivalence toward the trial among Japanese citizens and help them become more willing to accept Japan’s fair share of war responsibility.
Of course, recognition of Japan’s victimhood is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it presents the risk of allowing Japan to evade its war responsibility. Many Japanese citizens actually did indulge in their own victimhood to discount the suffering that they inflicted on foreign others. On the other hand, recognition of Japan’s victimhood has the potential to not only help Japanese citizens lower their ambivalence toward the Tokyo Trial, but also allow them to mobilize their victim identity as a powerful psychological mechanism to generalize their experience and fully empathize with foreign victims. As former Hiroshima City mayor Hiraoka Takashi observed, the commemoration of the atomic bombings expresses the “human, primordial outcry” (ningenteki na kongenteki na sakebi) against the nation-state threatening to control commemorations in nationalist terms.68
Indeed, the history of Japanese commemoration of the atomic bombings demonstrates the potential of victim identity to facilitate cosmopolitan (p.144) commemoration of foreign victims of Japan’s past wrongdoings. At the very beginning, people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki had the tendency to dwell on their own victimhood, and their attempts to commemorate the atomic bombings expressed an imperfect, self-serving kind of cosmopolitanism. But, at the same time, their commemorations already contained the seeds of genuine cosmopolitanism. A case in point was the “epitaph dispute” that occurred in 1952, when Radhabinod Pal, a former judge at the Tokyo Trial, visited the newly founded monument in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. The epitaph of the monument read, “Let all the souls here rest in peace; for we shall not repeat the evil.”69 After his visit, Pal remarked that while “we” apparently referred to the Japanese, the evil by those who had dropped the atomic bomb—Americans—was yet to be atoned. In response, Hiroshima City mayor Hamai Shinzō and the epitaph author, Saiga Tadayoshi, argued that “we” should include anyone praying in front of the monument, and therefore refer to the whole of humanity, in promising to renounce war and strive for world peace.70 As Hamai later recounted, Pal then agreed with him about the intention of the epitaph. According to Hamai, Pal stated, “I was just worried that Japanese citizens accepted the atrocious act by the United States, as Indians accepted violence and crimes by the British. But, if the evil refers to war, and if the epitaph expresses determination not to wage war again, that is a wonderful message.”71 Thus, both Hamai and Pal agreed that both Japan’s aggression and the atomic bombings by the United States were morally wrong.72 This universalistic impulse later allowed Japanese A-bomb victims to spearhead the efforts to commemorate South Korean and Chinese victims of Japan’s past wrongdoings.
Moreover, at its best, the commemoration of the atomic bombings articulates cosmopolitanism with world peace by rejecting war itself. As political scientist Fujiwara Kiichi argued, “Memory of the Holocaust raises a question about responsibility for standing up against murderers and destroyers. Memory of Hiroshima ethically questions war and demands absolute peace. The two episodes of war time violence thus left two different lessons: responsibility for fighting a war and responsibility for eliminating a war.”73 The commemoration of the atomic bombings thus embraces the ethics of no war, as opposed to just war, by recognizing that even perpetrators can suffer because they are also humans. In this respect, the commemoration of the atomic bombings is radically cosmopolitan and demands that any critical reassessment of the Tokyo Trial ultimately question the very (p.145) existence of a war tribunal itself. This is why sociologist Ueno Chizuko, speaking at the symposium on “Hiroshima from the Feminist Perspective” in 2001, cautioned against being trapped by the concept of war crime: “When we define what a war crime is, we simultaneously define what is not a war crime. … I am concerned that prosecution of war crimes can justify some wars as legal.”74 For Ueno, the commemoration of the atomic bombings embodied the radical moral commitment to define war itself as a crime.
In summary, the failure of the Tokyo Trial to prosecute war crimes of the Allied powers contributed to the history problem. While nonrecognition of Japanese victims prompted many Japanese citizens to reclaim their own victimhood, this diverted their attention from foreign victims of Japan’s past wrongdoings and suppressed the potential of Japan’s victimhood as a common denominator for extending empathy and solidarity to foreign others. In turn, the lack of recognition of Japanese victimhood at the trial facilitated nationalist commemorations in South Korea and China by depriving citizens in the two countries of opportunities to notice the complexity of the Asia-Pacific War, empathize with Japanese victims, and understand why Japanese citizens refused to see their country as the absolute perpetrator.
Beyond the Government-Centered View of War Responsibility
Addressing only the aforementioned two problems in the Tokyo Trial—failing to collectively distribute war responsibility among the imperial powers that participated in the Asia-Pacific War, and subjecting the Allied powers to the same standard of criminal justice and thereby recognize Japan’s victimhood—is, however, insufficient to move the relevant political actors toward resolving the history problem. Another major problem with the trial was the government-centered view of war responsibility that inhibited the active participation of Japanese citizens in discussion of Japan’s responsibility for foreign victims. By not indicting Emperor Hirohito, the symbol of the Japanese nation, the trial legitimated the historical view that only a small number of government leaders were responsible for Japan’s wrongful acts.75 Although some of the Allied powers, such as Australia, were initially keen to prosecute Hirohito, SCAP was opposed to it because it wanted to exploit the emperor’s symbolic authority to stabilize Japanese society while implementing reforms during the Occupation. In the end, the Allied powers agreed to suspend prosecution of the emperor and, as a result, the judges, prosecutors, and defendants framed trial proceedings to (p.146) shield the emperor from war responsibility.76 Here, exemption of the emperor from war responsibility had an important symbolic ramification: the innocence of the Japanese people, victimized by militarist leaders, was projected onto the innocent body of the emperor as a symbol of the Japanese nation.77
This government-centered view of Japan’s war responsibility persisted throughout the entire postwar period. When South Korea and China criticized Japanese prime ministers’ visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, they tended to target the Class A war criminals rather than Japanese citizens. This distinction between the guilty government and the innocent Japanese people facilitated normalization of Japan’s relations with neighboring countries in the short run, but it also ended up preventing the majority of Japanese citizens from critically reflecting on their own share of war responsibility. In reality, government officials had the power to start the war, but many Japanese citizens were also complicit in Japan’s aggression, albeit to different degrees, because they supported the government one way or another.
What is needed here is a concerted effort to carefully investigate and delineate shares of war responsibility among different groups of the Japanese, ranging from government officials to ordinary citizens. As Ienaga Saburō emphasized, “Documenting war responsibilities of ordinary Japanese citizens by making precise distinctions between different types of participation … is indispensable for preventing confusion and distortion in discussion of war responsibility.”78 Even though prewar Japan was not fully democratic, the Japanese government could not have carried out its imperial aggression without support from the majority of Japanese citizens. In this respect, the promoters of the Asian Women’s Fund took the right direction when they tried to justify the call for atonement money by stating, “Japan is not a country owned solely by the government but a country created by every citizen who inherits the past, lives in the present, and envisions the future.”79
The very fate of the Asian Women’s Fund, however, shows how difficult it is to go beyond the government-centered view of Japan’s war responsibility. By collecting atonement money equally and voluntarily from all groups of Japanese citizens, the promoters ended up obscuring whether those who had a larger share of responsibility—contractors who had recruited comfort women, military officials who had helped manage the comfort women system, and soldiers who had used comfort stations—contributed atonement money. In a way, the promoters unwittingly reproduced the (p.147) slogan of “repentance by all one hundred million” (ichioku sōzange). This slogan was originally advocated by Higashikuninomiya Naruhiko, the first postwar prime minister, who argued, “Of course, the government made policy mistakes, but the declining morality among citizens also contributed [to the defeat]. … I believe repentance by all Japanese citizens is the first step in reconstructing our country.”80 Such a slogan was problematic because it distributed responsibility for Japan’s past wrongdoings equally among Japanese citizens, shielding relevant actors from their share of guilt.
In turn, NGOs supporting former comfort women continued to regard the Japanese government as the sole author of the military comfort women system. Take, for example, the Women’s International War Crimes Tribunal on Japan’s Military Sexual Slavery in December 2000. This tribunal was organized by the Violence Against Women in War Network Japan in cooperation with NGOs from six Asian countries: the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery (South Korea), the Asian Center for Women’s Human Rights (the Philippines), the Shanghai Comfort Women Research Center (China), the Taipei Fund for Women’s Relief and Welfare (Taiwan), the Military Comfort Women Compensation Committee (North Korea), and the Indonesian Women’s Federation (Indonesia). The tribunal comprised four judges, from the United States, Argentina, Britain, and Kenya. During the five-day tribunal, former comfort women and Japanese soldiers were called upon to give testimony. The tribunal judged Emperor Hirohito, Tōjō Hideki, and other Japanese government leaders guilty of crimes against humanity such as rape and sexual slavery. The tribunal also called for the Japanese government to offer sincere apologies and compensation to former comfort women, fully investigate historical facts about the comfort-women system, and establish memorials, museums, and educational programs, among other things.81 Although the tribunal was an important achievement in exposing Japan’s past wrongdoings, it ended up reinforcing the government-centered view of war responsibility because it did not question Japanese citizens’ responsibility in the war crimes, not to mention local Korean complicity.82
The government-centered view of war responsibility persists because the national government continues to play a central role in organizing commemorations and other social activities for citizens. For example, after his visit to the Yasukuni Shrine caused an international controversy in 2001, Koizumi created the Commission on Memorial and Other Facilities for Mourning War Dead and Praying for Peace (Tsuitō Heiwa Kinen no tameno (p.148) Kinenhitō Shisetsu no Arikata wo Kangaeru Konshinkai) to explore “possible memorials and facilities where anyone can pray for war dead and peace without causing any controversy.”83 In its final report, the commission recommended the creation of a new, nonreligious site of commemoration separate from both the Yasukuni Shrine and Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery, and argued that such a nonreligious site should permit people to pray for both military and civilian war dead, as well as for both Japanese and foreign victims of the past wars in which Japan had been involved.84 As critics pointed out, however, such a new site of commemoration, no matter how cosmopolitan it may be, would reproduce the government-centered war commemoration: “A new national memorial is expected to be non-religious, but its essence would be exactly the same as the Yasukuni Shrine’s. The creation of a new memorial by the government means that meaning of ‘life and death’ will continue to be defined by the government.”85 Here, the critics articulated the exact opposite of government-centered commemoration—namely, individual-based commemoration, where individuals as human beings would take the initiative to commemorate war dead, irrespective of nationality, as well as independent of governments. This may be the ultimate form of cosmopolitan commemoration, but such individual-based commemoration risks denying the historical fact that government leaders did bear the largest share of war responsibility. Moreover, East Asia’s history problem continues to be centered on Japan’s official commemoration, defined by the Japanese government. It is therefore neither desirable nor possible to make a complete break with the government-centered view of Japan’s war responsibility.
Thus, for relevant political actors in the history problem to go beyond the government-centered view of Japan’s war responsibility, they have to walk a fine line, distributing war responsibility among citizens without obscuring each citizen’s fair share. But walking this fine line is extremely difficult, and the failure to do so prevented Japanese citizens, especially those who had lived through the war, from discussing how they contributed to the actions of the prewar Japanese government. Since a large number of Japanese citizens did not accept their share of war responsibility, the mobilizing structures for cosmopolitan commemoration never became large enough to institutionalize a high level of cosmopolitanism in Japan’s official commemoration. But if they had done so, they could have contributed not only to making Japan’s official commemoration more cosmopolitan but also (p.149) to convincing South Korea and China of the depth and breadth of cosmopolitan contrition on Japan’s part.
The Role of the United States in the History Problem
The critical examination of the government-centered view of war responsibility also helps clarify the role of the United States in East Asia’s history problem. During the Occupation, the US government preferred attributing Japan’s war responsibility to only a small number of government leaders, while absolving both the emperor and the people. SCAP also censored criticisms of the Tokyo Trial not only by Japanese nationalists but also by leftist intellectuals who questioned the trial’s failure to prosecute Japan’s colonial rule of Korea and Taiwan.86 More importantly, the US Cold War policy had significant influence on the trajectory of the history problem. First, SCAP permitted Japan’s “amnesia” of its past wrongdoings by prioritizing reconstruction and rearmament of Japan over demilitarization and democratization, as well as by allowing former war criminals to return to power. Second, Japan and South Korea normalized their relations in the 1960s partly because the US government pressed the two countries toward greater cooperation given its geopolitical and economic needs at the height of the Vietnam War. Similarly, Japan was able to normalize its relations with China only after the US government changed its policies toward China and Taiwan in the early 1970s.87 Most recently, the US government put pressure on Abe to refrain from visiting the Yasukuni Shrine, seek friendlier relations with South Korea and China, and reinterpret Article 9 of the constitution to expand the scope of overseas deployment of the SDF. Thus, the history problem in “East Asia” is transnational to the extent that it includes the United States as a relevant political actor.88
The indirect but deep involvement of the United States in the history problem poses a formidable obstacle to any attempt to critically reassess the historical judgment of the Tokyo Trial. This is because such a reassessment would challenge the American commemoration of the “good war,” wherein the good United States triumphed over the evil Japanese empire. This good-war commemoration—coterminous with the Tokyo Trial historical view—was foundational to American identity as a champion of justice, democracy, and freedom throughout the entire postwar period. In a way, the A-bomb poet Kurihara Sadako foresaw the crucial role of the United States in the history problem. Although Kurihara’s famous 1976 poem opens with the (p.150) question, “When we say ‘Hiroshima,’ / do people answer, gently, / ‘Ah, Hiroshima’?,” the first thing readers hear—before the “anger” spit out by Asia’s dead and her voiceless masses—is “Pearl Harbor,” by the American voice.89
Indeed, for the sake of building their alliance, the governments of Japan and the United States treated the attack on Pearl Harbor and the atomic bombings as if they cancelled each other out. After returning from the United States in October 1975, for example, Prime Minister Miki Takeo emphasized the “forward-looking” (mirai shikō) nature of his meeting with US president Gerald Ford and argued that it was unnecessary to “bring up the past, such as the attack on Pearl Harbor and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.”90 Moreover, when JCP member Yoshioka Yoshinori argued that Japan should apologize to the United States on the fiftieth anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Kaifu Toshiki’s government rejected the necessity of such apology because “apology for the attack on Pearl Harbor has never been an issue in Japan’s relations with the United States.”91 In turn, when President George H. W. Bush and President Bill Clinton justified the atomic bombings and rejected the necessity of offering apologies to A-bomb victims, the Japanese government remained silent, even though the JSP and the JCP demanded an official protest against the US presidents.92 As long as the Japanese and US governments refuse to fully confront the atrocities that they committed against each other, they are likely to perpetuate their respective nationalist commemorations: the attack on Pearl Harbor is justified as part of the war to defend Japan against the West, while the atomic bombings are justified to avenge Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor and to save American lives.
Nevertheless, the disjunction between the Japanese and American nationalist commemorations did not develop into a history problem because the two countries avoided interfering with each other’s domestic commemorations. In the mid-1990s, however, the United States began to criticize Japanese commemorations of Japan’s past wrongdoings against South Korea and China, for a growing number of Asian Americans became interested and involved in East Asia’s history problem.93 Korean and Chinese Americans, in particular, actively commemorated Korean and Chinese victims and shared with other Americans their critical attitudes toward Japan’s official commemoration. For example, Korean Americans created the Washington Coalition for Comfort Women Issues in 1992 to lobby American politicians to press the Japanese government with regard to apologies and compensation for former comfort women.94 Chinese Americans also played a major (p.151) role in launching The Global Alliance for Preserving the History of WWII in Asia in 1994 to promote commemorations of Japan’s war time atrocities and lobby politicians in the United States, Canada, and other countries.95
Typically, American citizens criticized Japan’s official commemoration by asserting their moral superiority. Take, for example, the exchange between Iris Chang and Saitō Kunihiko, Japan’s ambassador to the United States, on the PBS NewsHour program moderated by Elizabeth Farnsworth in December 1998. After criticizing the Japanese government for failing to apologize to Chinese victims of Japan’s past aggression, Chang said, “What I’m curious to know is can the ambassador, himself, say today on national TV live that he personally is profoundly sorry for the rape of Nanking and other war crimes against China, and the Japanese responsibility for it?” Saitō responded, “Well, we do recognize that acts of cruelty and violence were committed by members of the Japanese military and we are very sorry for that. … As to the incident in Nanking, we do recognize that really unfortunate things happened, acts of violence were committed by members of the Japanese military.” Then, Farnsworth asked Chang, “Did you hear an apology?” thus authorizing the Chinese American writer to determine the worth of Saito’s statement. Chang replied, “I don’t know. Did you hear an apology? I didn’t really hear the word ‘apology’ that was made.”96 The foregoing exchange illustrated not simply a lack of decisive apology on Japan’s part. It also exposed the assumption, shared by Farnsworth and Chang, that Americans had the moral authority to judge the worth of Japan’s official commemoration on behalf of Chinese victims.
This assumption about the moral authority of the United States is coterminous with the US refusal to apologize to victims of the atomic bombings by justifying the act as a means to end the war and save “half a million American lives.”97 This justification is deeply anchored in the nationalist logic of commemoration that disregards how foreign others—the people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki—suffered. By refusing to confront the real human consequences of the atomic bombings, American nationalist commemoration eliminates the moral ambiguity of the bombings and protects the moral authority of the United States. Even though this nationalist commemoration has been challenged by critically minded American historians, it is still widespread among politicians and citizens in the United States.98
As Tzvetan Todorov pointed out, “Revisiting historical episodes in which one’s own group was neither 100 percent heroic nor the complete victim would be an act of higher moral value for writers of historical narratives. (p.152) No moral benefit can accrue from always identifying with the ‘right side’ of history; it can only arise when writing history makes the writer more aware of the weakness and wrong turns of his or her own community.”99 In this regard, Korean and Chinese Americans are prone to falling into the trap of nationalist commemoration because they can easily combine the “100 percent heroic” American narrative of the Asia-Pacific War with the Korean and Chinese narratives of “the complete victim.” For example, following the 2007 US House of Representatives House Resolution 121, Korean Americans and their supporters lobbied state legislatures in New York, New Jersey, and Illinois to adopt similar resolutions to condemn Japan for violating women’s human rights through military comfort stations. They also helped create memorials for comfort women in New York and New Jersey as well as erect a statue of a thirteen-year-old comfort woman—the same as the one in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul—in California in July 2013.100 Even though these resolutions and memorials express cosmopolitan commemoration based on human rights, they also risk doubling the logic of nationalism; that is, they commemorate Korean comfort women as complete victims from the American perspective, which assumes the United States to be the complete hero and moral authority, while ignoring atrocities that it committed against Japanese civilians. Similarly, the WWII Pacific War Memorial Hall, which opened in San Francisco in August 2015, appears to adopt a doubly nationalist commemoration, focusing on the suffering of Chinese victims and the heroism of American and Chinese soldiers.101 But, if Korean and Chinese Americans criticize Japan without critically reflecting on their own nationalism vis-à-vis the problems of the Tokyo Trial, they may very well add fuel to nationalist commemorations on all sides in East Asia, making the history problem intractable.
In short, there are both negative and positive aspects in the growing involvement of the United States in East Asia’s history problem. On the one hand, it may well make the problem even more protracted. Every time politicians and citizens in the United States call on Japan to apologize to victims of its past wrongdoings, they risk reinforcing resentment and ambivalence toward the Tokyo Trial among Japanese nationalists and citizens, thereby discouraging them from confronting Japan’s past wrongdoings against South Korea and China. On the other hand, if the American commemoration of the Asia-Pacific War moves in the direction suggested by Todorov, it will not only ease the ambivalence among Japanese citizens and encourage them to fully commemorate the suffering of South Korean (p.153) and Chinese victims; it will also set an example for the Japanese government to follow in confronting its “weakness and wrong turns” of the past. Thus, if the United States participates in the history problem in a self-critical and cosmopolitan manner, it can greatly help the governments and citizens in Japan, South Korea, and China to disentangle their nationalist commemorations from the Tokyo Trial and, instead, adopt more cosmopolitan commemorations toward each other.
Toward a Critical Reassessment of the Tokyo Trial
Simply put, East Asia’s history problem developed because the Tokyo Trial, a common reference point for relevant political actors in the field, was deeply problematic. As historian Alexis Dudden observed, the fundamental problem with any military tribunal is that “a legal order for a ‘correct’ history must silence other histories in order to declare the necessary guilt.”102 While the trial certainly played a crucial role in exposing Japan’s war crimes across the Asia-Pacific, the Tokyo Judgment was essentially a nationalist commemoration on the part of the Allied powers. Its problematic nature gave the Japanese government and citizens an excuse to discount their past wrongdoings and evade their war responsibility, while providing South Korea and China with a justification to blame Japan entirely for the history problem.
Thus, a critical reassessment of the Tokyo Trial is the key to challenging nationalist commemorations and resolving the history problem. First, elements of victor’s justice in the trial need to be critiqued in such a way that the responsibility for the Asia-Pacific War will be collectively and fairly distributed between Japan and the Allied powers in light of the world-historical context of imperialism and colonialism in the first half of the twentieth century. This critique will decrease the ambivalence that many Japanese citizens feel toward Japan’s war crimes and help them commemorate Japan’s past wrongdoings more decisively. Second, war crimes of the Allied powers vis-à-vis Japan’s victimhood need to be recognized. Such recognition will not only alleviate the sense of injustice among Japanese citizens but also allow them to draw on their own victimhood to empathize with South Korean and Chinese victims in a universalistic manner. In turn, recognition of Japan’s victimhood will help South Korean and Chinese citizens better understand Japanese commemorations of the war. Third, the trial’s government-centered view of Japan’s past aggression needs to be challenged to clarify each Japanese citizen’s share of war responsibility. This has the potential to make cosmopolitan contrition truly nationwide. Finally, (p.154) a critical reassessment of the Tokyo Judgment along these lines can be facilitated by the greater involvement of the United States as a relevant political actor in the field of the history problem.
This critical reassessment is impossible without historians capable of challenging nationalist commemorations, including the Tokyo Judgment itself. As historian Sven Saaler pointed out, “The writing of history is revision, since historians continually re-evaluate sources in order to revise existing theories or present new information or perspectives.”103 In this regard, historians in Japan, South Korea, and China have a crucial role to play in the history problem because they can generate an East Asian version of the “historians’ debate” (Historikerstreit). As critical theorist Jürgen Habermas argued, such a controversy among historians “only reflects the structure of open societies. It provides an opportunity to clarify one’s own identity-forming traditions in their ambivalences. This is precisely what is needed … for the development of a historical consciousness that is equally incompatible with closed images of history that have a secondary quasi-natural character and with all forms of conventional, that is, uniformly and pre-reflexively shared identity.”104 While Habermas made these observations on the historians’ debate that took place in West Germany in the 1980s, his observations captured the essence of historians’ debates anywhere. Indeed, a similar debate began in East Asia at the transnational level in the form of joint historical research and education projects. The emergence of these transnational projects created the possibility of problematizing nationalist biases in the “historical consciousness” of relevant political actors in the field. Chapter 6, then, turns to a critical examination of this possibility and explores how historians may be able to contribute to resolving the history problem.
(1) Bud get Committee, House of Representatives, October 6, 2006, and March 12, 2013.
(2) The Chinese government in particular has embraced the Tokyo Trial as the basis of its official commemoration. See Nobuko Kosuge, Sengo wakai: Nihon wa “ kako” kara tokihanatarerunoka (Tokyo: Chūō Kōron Shinsha, 2005), 170–172.
(3) Masao Nomura, Heiwa sengen dai 1-shō: Tokyo Saiban oboegaki (Tokyo: Nichinan Shobō, 1949), 2.
(5) Seijirō Takigawa, Tokyo Saiban wo sabaku (Tokyo: Tōwasha, 1952), 20.
(6) Yasuaki Ōnuma, Tokyo Saiban, sensō sekinin, sengo sekinin (Tokyo: Tōshinsha, 2007).
(7) Yutaka Yoshida, “Senryōki no sensō sekinin,” in Toinaosu Tokyo Saiban, ed. Ajia Minshū Hōtei Junbikai (Tokyo: Ryokufū Shuppan, 1995), 209–265.
(p.228) (8) Karl Jaspers, The Question of German Guilt (New York: Capricorn Books, 1947).
(9) Shunsuke Tsurumi, Tsurumi Shunsukeshū, vol. 9 (Tokyo: Chikuma Shobō, 1991), 122.
(11) Masao Maruyama, “Chōkokkashugi no Rinri to Shinri, May 1946,” reprinted in Gendai seiji no shisō to kōdō (Tokyo: Miraisha, 1956), 7–24.
(12) Masao Maruyama, “Sensō sekininron no mōten,” in Senchū to sengo no aida, 1936–1957 (Tokyo: Misuzu Shobō, 1976), 596–598.
(13) Eiji Oguma, Minshu to aikoku: sengo Nihon no nashonarizumu to kōkyōsei (Tokyo: Shinyōsha, 2002), 603–604.
(14) Takaaki Yoshimoto, Maruyama Masaoron (Tokyo: Hitotsubashi Shinbumbu, 1963), 10.
(16) James J. Orr, The Victim as Hero: Ideologies of Peace and National Identity in Postwar Japan (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2001), 3–7. For the history of postwar intellectual debates on the Asia-Pacific War, see Yasuaki Ōnuma, Tokyo Saiban kara sengo sekinin no shisōe (Tokyo: Tōshindō, 1993), 177.
(17) Reprinted in Saburō Ienaga, Ienaga Saburōshū, vol. 12 (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1998), 59–91.
(19) Saburō Ienaga, Sensō sekinin (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1985), chap. 5.
(20) Yoshimi Takeuchi, Nihon to Ajia: Takeuchi Yoshimi hyōronshū, vol. 3 (Tokyo: Chikuma Shobō, 1966), 208–210.
(21) Yasuaki Ōnuma, Tokyo Saiban, sensō sekinin, sengo sekinin (Tokyo: Tōshinsha, 2007), 20.
(22) Richard Minear is perhaps the best-known American historian who criticized the Tokyo Trial. See Richard H. Minear, Victor’s Justice: The Tokyo War Crimes Trial (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1971).
(23) Chiaki Hosoya, Nisuke Andō, and Yasuaki Ōnuma, eds. Tokyo Saiban wo tou (Tokyo: Kōdansha, 1989), 403–404.
(24) Eiji Oguma and Yōko Ueno, “Iyashi” no nashonarizumu: kusano ne hoshu no jisshō kenkyū (Tokyo: Keiō Gijuku Daigaku Shuppankai, 2003).
(25) Kei Ushimura and Yoshinobu Higurashi, Tokyo Saiban wo tadashiku yomu (Tokyo: Bungei Shunjū, 2008). Also see Yoshinobu Higurashi, Tokyo Saiban no kokusai kankei: kokusai seiji ni okeru kenryoku to kihan (Tokyo: Bokutakusha, 2002); Kei Ushimura, “Bunmei no sabaki” wo koete: tainichi senpan saiban dokkai no kokoromi (Tokyo: Chūō Kōron Sha, 2001); “Shōsha no sabaki” ni mukiatte: Tokyo Saiban wo yominaosu (Tokyo: Chikuma Shobō, 2004).
(p.229) (26) Kei Ushimura, “Senso sekinin” ron no shinjitsu: sengo Nihon no chiteki taiman wo danzu (Tokyo: PHP Kenkyūjo, 2006), 119.
(28) Yuma Totani, “Tokyo Saiban ni okeru sensō hanzai sotsui to hanketsu: Nankin Jiken to sei doreisei ni taisuru kokka shidōsha sekinin wo chūshin ni,” in Gendai rekishigaku to Nankin Jiken, ed. Tokushi Kasahara and Yutaka Yoshida (Tokyo: Kashiwa Shobō, 2006), 125–163; “The Case against the Accused,” reprinted in Beyond Victors’ Justice? The Tokyo War Crimes Trial Revisited, ed. Yuki Tanaka, Tim McCormack, and Gerry Simpson (Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2011), 147–161.
(29) Ricoeur, Memory, History, Forgetting (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004), 320.
(31) Akira Iriye, The Origins of the Second World War in Asia and the Pacific (New York: Longman, 1987).
(32) For elaboration of the collectively distributed concept of agency, see Bruno Latour, Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005).
(33) B. V. A. Röling, The Tokyo Trial and Beyond: Reflections of a Peacemonger (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1993), 87.
(34) Reprinted in Yuki Tanaka, “The Atomic Bombing, the Tokyo Tribunal and the Shimoda Case: Lessons for Anti-Nuclear Legal Movements,” in Beyond Victor’s Justice?, ed. Tanaka, McCormack, and Simpson, 293–310.
(35) Radhabinod Pal, International Military Tribunal for the Far East: Dissentient Judgment of Justice Pal (Tokyo: Toshokankōkai, 1999), 71.
(37) For discussion of Pal’s nationalist biases, see Nariaki Nakazato, Pal hanji: Indo nashonarizumu to Tokyo Saiban (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 2011). For problems with his legal arguments, see Yuma Totani, The Tokyo War Crimes Trial: The Pursuit of Justice in the Wake of World War II (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2008), chap. 9.
(38) Ashis Nandy, The Intimate Enemy: Loss and Recovery of Self under Colonialism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), 80.
(39) Yutaka Yoshida and Tokushi Kasahara, eds., Gendai rekishigaku to Nankin Jiken (Tokyo: Kashiwa Shobō, 2006), 49–55.
(41) John W. Dower, War without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War (New York: Pantheon Books, 1986); Edward T. Linenthal and Tom Engelhardt, eds., History Wars: The Enola Gay and Other Battles for the American Past (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1996).
(43) Countries such as Australia and Canada have offered apologies and compensation to indigenous people who were victims of “internal colonialism.” However, these apologies and compensation are still delimited within national borders. Reconciliation between the former colonizers and colonized seems to be far more difficult at the international level.
(44) In many countries in the Asia-Pacific, commemorations of the Asia-Pacific War are intimately bound up with narratives of liberation from their colonial rulers. See Kevin Blackburn, “War Memory and Nation-Building in South East Asia,” South East Asia Research 18, no. 1 (2010): 5–31; T. Fujitani, Geoffrey M. White, and Lisa Yoneyama, eds. Perilous Memories: The Asia-Pacific War(s) (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2001).
(45) Kentarō Awaya, Tokyo Saibanron (Tokyo: Ōtsuki Shoten, 1989); Kentarō Awaya, Hiroshi Tanaka, Seigo Hirose, Ken’ichi Mishima, and Yukio Mochida, Sensō sekinin sengo sekinin: Nihon to Doitsu wa dou chigauka (Tokyo: Asahi Shinbunsha, 1994).
(46) Yōichi Komori, Postcolonial (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 2001).
(47) Jong Wong Lee, “Chōsen Hantō to Nihon: rekishi wakai no seijuku ni mukete,” in Ima rekishi mondai ni dou torikumuka, ed. Yōichi Funabashi (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 2001), 133.
(48) Peter Hays Gries, China’s New Nationalism: Pride, Politics, and Diplomacy (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004); Zheng Wang, Never Forget National Humiliation: Historical Memory in Chinese Politics and Foreign Relations (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012).
(49) In addition, 173 Taiwanese were prosecuted, and twenty-one of them were sentenced to death. See Hirofumi Hayashi, BC-kyū senpan saiban (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 2005), 152.
(50) The Japanese government kept these Koreans by following the policy of the Allied powers. The South Korean government also had been indifferent to these Korean prisoners and taken no action to seek their release. See Aiko Utsumi, Kim wa naze sabakaretanoka: Chōsenjin BC-kyū senpan no kiseki (Tokyo: Asahi Shinbun Shuppan, 2008), 282–287.
(51) Aiko Utsumi, Chōsenjin BC-kyū senpan no kiroku (Tokyo: Keisō Shobō, 1982), 265.
(52) House of Representatives Social Labor Committee, April 12, 1962.
(53) Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, “Information on Condolence Money for Former Soldiers and Their Bereaved Families from Korea and Taiwan,” 2012, http://www.shiho-shoshi.or.jp/cms/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/200301_10.pdf. Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, “Information on Condolence Money for Former Soldiers and Their Bereaved Families from Korea and Taiwan,” 2012, (p.231) http://www.shiho-shoshi.or.jp/cms/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/200301_10.pdf. Also see Utsumi, Kim wa naze sabakaretanoka, 382.
(54) House of Representatives Cabinet Committee, May 17, 2000.
(55) In addition, 27,783 Taiwanese are enshrined at the Yasukuni Shrine. See Nobumasa Tanaka, Yasukuni no sengoshi (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 2002), 226.
(56) Asahi shinbun, April 16, 1978.
(58) House of Councillors Social Labor Committee, April 18, 1978.
(59) Ibid., March 17, 1978.
(60) Nobumasa Tanaka, Yasukuni soshō (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 2007), 29.
(62) Toshio Kurihara, Siberia yokuryū: mikan no higeki (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 2009).
(63) House of Representatives Cabinet Committee, March 28, 2007.
(64) Kazuharu Saitō, Chūgoku rekishi kyōkasho to Higashi Ajia rekishi taiwa: Nitchūkan sangoku kyōtsū kyōzai zukuri no genba kara (Tokyo: Kadensha, 2008), 76–79.
(65) Bao Yao, “Kagaisha to higaisha ga tomoni rekishi no kage kara fumidasu tameni,” in Higashi Ajia no rekishi seisaku: Nitchūkan taiwa to rekishi ninshiki, ed. Takahiro Kondō (Tokyo: Akashi Shoten, 2008), 156–169.
(66) Yu Ha Park, Wakai no tameni: kyōkasho, ianfu, Yasukuni, Dokto (Tokyo: Heibonsha, 2011), 24–25.
(68) Takashi Hiraoka, “Watashi no heiwaron: Hiroshima wo megutte,” in Hiroshima kara sekai no heiwa nit suite kangaeru, ed. Hiroshima Daigaku Toshokan (Tokyo: Gendai Shiryō Shuppan, 2006), 21–24, 38–39.
(69) “Cenotaph for the A-Bomb Victims,” http://www.pcf.city.hiroshima.jp/virtual/VirtualMuseum_e/tour_e/ireihi/tour_20_e.html.
(70) Chūgoku Shinbunsha, Nenpyō Hiroshima yonjūnen no kiroku (Tokyo: Miraisha, 1986), 81.
(71) Shinzō Hamai, “Ayamachi wa kurikaeshimasen,” in Nihon genbakuron taikei, vol. 7, ed. Hiroshi Iwadare and Tatsumi Nakajima (Tokyo: Nihon Tosho Center, 1999), 185–90.
(72) Precisely speaking, not all people in Hiroshima shared Hamai’s position, and some of them were quite critical of it. But the majority of Hiroshima residents accepted the epitaph along the lines of Hamai’s position. For the history of the epitaph dispute, see Yoshiko Ishida, “Ayamachi wa kurikaeshimasenukara: hibun ronsō no ayumi,” in Nihon genbakuron taikei, vol. 7, ed. Hiroshi Iwadare and Tatsumi Nakajima (Tokyo: Nihon Tosho Center, 1999), 149–174.
(p.232) (73) Kiichi Fujiwara, Sensō wo kiokusuru: Hiroshima Holocaust to genzai (Tokyo: Kōdansha, 2001), 22.
(74) Chizuko Ueno, Feminism kara mita Hiroshima: sensō hanzai to sensō toiu hanzai no aida (Hiroshima: Kazokusha, 2002), 36–37.
(76) The exemption of Emperor Hirohito from war responsibility was engineered by both the Allied powers and Japan. See Herbert P. Bix, Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan (New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2000), chap. 15; John Dower, Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II (New York: W. W. Norton, 1999), chap. 15.
(77) Yoshiyuki Igarashi, Bodies of Memory: Narratives of War in Postwar Japanese Culture, 1945–1970 (Prince ton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000).
(78) Ienaga, Sensō sekinin, 282. For competing interpretations of the Japanese people’s war responsibility, see Akira Fujiwara, “Nihon ni okeru sensō sekininron no shosō,” in Gendaishi ni okeru sensō sekinin, ed. Akira Fujiwara and Shin’ichi Arai (Tokyo: Aoki Shoten, 1990), 121–138; Hirohiko Takahashi, Minshū no gawa no sensō sekinin (Tokyo: Aoki Shoten, 1989).
(80) Asahi shinbun, August 30, 1945, reprinted in Yutaka Yoshida, Nihonjin no sensōkan: sengoshi no nakano henyō (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 2005), 28–29.
(81) Violence Against Women in War Japan Network, “The 2000 Women’s International War Crimes Tribunal on Japan’s Military Sexual Slavery,” http://www1.jca.apc.org/vaww-net-japan/womens_tribunal_2000/index.html.
(82) Alexis Dudden, “‘We Came to Tell the Truth’: Reflections on the Tokyo Women’s Tribunal,” Critical Asian Studies 33, no. 4 (2001), 599.
(83) House of Prime Minister, “Commission on Memorial and Other Facilities for Mourning War Dead and Praying for Peace,” http://www.kantei.go.jp/jp/singi/tuitou/index.html.
(84) “Final Report, December 24, 2002,” http://www.kantei.go.jp/jp/singi/tuitou/kettei/021224houkoku.html. The report also noted that “those war dead who harmed Japan’s peace and independence as well as violated ideals of world peace”—referring to Class A war criminals—should be excluded from the proposed new memorial.
(85) “A Statement of Purpose, November 9, 2001,” reprinted in Jōhou Yamamoto, Kokka to tsuitō: “Yasukuni Jinja ka kokuritsu tsuitō shisetsuka” wo koete (Tokyo: Shakai Hyōronsha, 2010), 230–231.
(p.233) (87) Sheila Miyoshi Jager and Rena Mitter, eds., Ruptured Histories: War, Memory, and the Post-Cold War in Asia (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007).
(88) Marc Gallicchio, ed., The Unpredictability of the Past: Memories of the Asia-Pacific War in U.S.-East Asian Relations (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007); Gi-Wook Shin, “Historical Disputes and Reconciliation in Northeast Asia: The US Role,” Pacific Affairs 83, no. 4 (2010): 663–673.
(89) Sadako Kurihara, When We Say ‘Hiroshima’: Selected Poems (Ann Arbor: Center for Japanese Studies at the University of Michigan, 1999), 20–21. For the history of how the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor has been commemorated in the United States, see Emily Rosenberg, A Date Which Will Live: Pearl Harbor in American Memory (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003).
(90) House of Representatives Bud get Committee, October 23, 1975.
(91) House of Councillors Cabinet Committee, June 14, 1990.
(92) House of Representatives Plenary Session, December 6, 1991; House of Councillors Accounting Committee, April 11, 1995.
(93) For the history of how Asian Americans began to participate in the history problem, see Lisa Yoneyama, “Traveling Memories, Contagious Justice: Americanization of Japanese War Crimes at the End of the Post-Cold War,” Journal of Asian American Studies 6, no. 1 (2003): 57–93; Takashi Yoshida, The Making of the “Rape of Nanking”: History and Memory in Japan, China, and the United States (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), chap. 12.
(96) The transcript of the exchange is archived at the website of PBS NewsHour, http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/asia/july-dec98/china_12-1.html.
(97) For the official American narrative on the atomic bombings and its critique, see Ronald Takaki, Hiroshima: Why America Dropped the Atomic Bomb (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1995).
(99) Tzvetan Todorov, Hope and Memory: Lessons from the Twentieth Century (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003), 145.
(100) For a list of resolutions and memorials in the United States, see Yomiuri shinbun, August 1, 2013.
(101) “WWII Pacific War Memorial Hall Opens in San Francisco,” http://english.gov.cn/news/video/2015/08/17/content_281475169801795.htm.
(p.234) (103) Sven Saaler, Politics, Memory and Public Opinion: The History Textbook Controversy and Japanese Society (München: Iudicium, 2005), 23, emphasis in original.
(104) Jürgen Habermas, The New Conservatism: Cultural Criticism and the Historians’ Debate (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1989), 226–227, emphasis in original.