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Japanese War Crime Tribunal Documents

Identifier: MSS-413-BC

Scope and Content

This is an incomplete collection, consisting of nearly 50,000 pages of transcripts and exhibits of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East trial in Tokyo from 1946-1948. It presents the historical context for the trial as well as an overview of the court proceedings and verdicts. The collection is divided into 4 series: IMTFE Procedings Transcripts (1946, 1947, 1948) and Defense Exhibits.

The individuals on trial were Sadao Araki, Kenji Doihara, Kingoro Hashimoto, Shunroku Hata, Kiichiro Hiranuma, Koki Hirota, Naoki Hoshino, Seishiro Itagaki, Okinori Kaya, Koichi Kido, Heitaro Kimura, Kuniaki Koiso, Iwane Matsue, Yosuke Matsuoka, Jiro Minami, Akira Muto, Osami Nagano, Takasumi Oka, Shumei Okawa, Hiroshi Oshima, Kenryo Sato, Mamoru Shigemitsu, Shigetaro Shimada, Toshio Shiratori, Teiichi Suzuki, Shiegenori Togo, Hideki Tojo, and Yoshijiro Umezu. These individuals were indicted on three counts: Crimes against Peace; Murder; and Conventional War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity. Civilian propagandist, Emperor Hirohito was not indicted.

The transcripts shed light on the international law employed at the time, the cultural differences and conflicts which plagued the trial, the war crimes committed, the treatment of prisoners of war, and the political and international climate immediately following World War II. The vast majority of materials are in English with some documents in Japanese.


  • 1946-1948

Language of Materials

English Japanese

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication of CSWR material is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for compliance with all copyright, privacy, and libel laws. Permission is required for publication or distribution.


In 1946, General Douglas Mac Arthur, Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers in Japan, approved the Tokyo Charter, first introduced in the Potsdam Declaration. This charter announced the intention to prosecute Japanese officials for war crimes committed during World War II. The International Military Tribunal for the Far East was created to carry out this task, and was comprised of eleven justices representing various Allied nations (USA, the Republic of China, the United Kingdom, USSR, Australia, Canada, France, the Netherlands, New Zealand, India, and the Philippines). American Joseph B. Keenan served as Chief Prosecutor. Australian Sir William F. Webb presided as President of the tribunal. The trial commenced in May, 1946 and convened until 1948, generating nearly 50,000 pages of transcripts.

In all, 28 individuals from Japan (mostly military or political leaders) were indicated. Among these leaders were former prime ministers, former foreign ministers, former commanders-in-chief, politicians. Of the 25 individuals ultimately tried (two died during the trial and one was declared mentally unfit to stand trial), seven defendants were condemned to death by hanging (five generals and two former prime ministers), sixteen defendants received sentences of life imprisonment, one received a seven-year prison sentence, and one received a sentence of twenty-five years in prison.

The trial was not widely publicized and was always shadowed by its counterpart in Nuremberg, but by those who were aware of its details, it was highly criticized. In spite of the international composition of the jury, the Anglo-Saxon system of law dominated and was often at odds with the cultural system of those on trial as well as of some of the justices. The United States' wartime atrocities were not admitted into the court's deliberations. Furthermore, death sentences were given to some defendants with just barely over a 50% vote on the part of the justices. Dissenting votes (from representatives of the Netherlands, France, and India) were not explained in court.

It is widely considered that this early experiment in international law was wrought with problems. The defendant ultimately determined unfit to stand trial due to his mental state held perhaps the most insightful view of the trial. He suggested that rather than marking the end of the war, the Tokyo war crimes trial was merely an extension of war carried out in a courtroom in which the victors judged the vanquished.


21 boxes (21 cu.ft.)


This collection contains the transcripts and exhibits of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East which tried 28 Japanese government and military officials after the end of World War II in Tokyo.

Related Archival Material

William B. Reardon Papers contain testimony, affidavit for the U.S. War Crimes Office of William B. Reardon, POW, Yodogawa Camp, Osaka, Japan Japanese War Crimes Tribunal Documents University of Richmond Libraries. Muse Law Library. Japanese War Crimes Resources for Researchers National Archives and Records Administration

Relevant Secondary Sources

  • Cassese, Antonio and B.V.A. Röling Estate. The Tokyo Trial and Beyond. Cambridge: Polity Press, 1993.
  • Hosoya, C. et al. The Tokyo War Crimes Trial: An International Symposium. Tokyo: Kodansha Ltd., 1986.
  • Piccigallo, Philip R. The Japanese on Trial. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1979.
Finding Aid of the Japanese War Crime Tribunal Documents, 1946-1948
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Language of description
Script of description
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Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • June 28, 2004: PUBLIC "-//University of New Mexico::Center for Southwest Research//TEXT (US::NmU::MSS 413 BC::Japanese War Crime Tribunal Documents)//EN" "nmu1mss413bc.sgml" converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • April 25, 2006: Major revisions were made to the encoded finding aid- the structure was greatly simplified.
  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.

Repository Details

Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131