April 29, 1946: The Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal convenes.

Officially called the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE), the Tokyo Trials took place nearly eight months after the signing of the Japanese Instrument of Surrender, which marked the unconditional surrender of the Empire of Japan to the Allied nations. The IMTFE was modeled after the Nuremberg Trials (which set precedents for most later trials involving international criminal law) and, like the Nuremberg Trials, ended in death sentences and life imprisonment for dozens of its twenty-eight main defendants - a group filled with infamous faces, like that of Hideki Tōjō, general, party leader, and prime minister;  Kenji Doihara, who played an instrumental role in the Japanese invasion and destabilization of Manchuria and later other parts of China; Iwane Matsui, commander of expeditionary forces in China, deemed responsible by the tribunal for the Nanking Massacre; and many others. Emperor Hirohito and the entirety of the imperial family (including Prince Yasuhiko Asaka, a commander at Nanking) were not prosecuted by the tribunal.

Eleven men representing eleven different nations served on the IMTFE’s panel of judges, all of them top justices, attorneys, or professors from various Allied nations. The Indian representative Justice Radhabinod Pal famously dissented and, while acknowledging the brutality of certain events (the Nanking Massacre specifically), argued for the exoneration of all indictees, since other trials would cover these acts - as Class B and C crimes. Pal also questioned the legitimacy of the entire proceeding and condemned the United States’ use of atomic weapons against Japan, as well as the fact that this, which he regarded as one of the war’s worst crimes, would go unpunished. 

Class A crimes (as opposed to"Class B" and "Class C" crimes - war crimes and crimes against humanity) were defined as crimes against peace, and were therefore reserved for political and military officials who had played parts in the planning and instigation of war; twenty-eight were ultimately charged with Class A crimes and six were hanged for them at Sugamo Prison in December 1948, a month after the trials adjourned. Unlike the Nuremberg Trial executions, where the corpses of the hanged had been photographed and published, no photographers were allowed at the executions. 

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