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Judgment at Tokyo: World War II on Trial and the Making of Modern Asia


Judgment at Tokyo: World War II on Trial and the Making of Modern Asia

Gary Bass, Professor of World Politics of Peace and War at Princeton University


Thursday, March 14, 2024
12:15 PM
UCLA School of Law
Room 1314
385 Charles E Young Dr E
Los Angeles, CA 90095
Click here to register


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ABOUT THE BOOK

Judgment at Tokyo is a riveting story of wartime action, dramatic courtroom battles, and the epic formative years that set the stage for the Asian postwar era.

In the weeks after Japan finally surrendered to the Allies to end World War II, the world turned to the question of how to move on from years of carnage and destruction. For Harry Truman, Douglas MacArthur, Chiang Kai-shek, and their fellow victors, the question of justice seemed clear: Japan’s militaristic leaders needed to be tried and punished for the surprise attack at Pearl Harbor; shocking atrocities against civilians in China, the Philippines, and elsewhere; and rampant abuses of prisoners of war in notorious incidents such as the Bataan death march. For the Allied powers, the trial was an opportunity to render judgment on their vanquished foes, but also to create a legal framework to prosecute war crimes and prohibit the use of aggressive war, building a more peaceful world under international law and American hegemony. For the Japanese leaders on trial, it was their chance to argue that their war had been waged to liberate Asia from Western imperialism and that the court was victors’ justice.

For more than two years, lawyers for both sides presented their cases before a panel of clashing judges from China, India, the Philippines, and Australia, as well as the United States and European powers. The testimony ran from horrific accounts of brutality and the secret plans to attack Pearl Harbor to the Japanese military’s threats to subvert the government if it sued for peace. Yet rather than clarity and unanimity, the trial brought complexity, dissents, and divisions that provoke international discord between China, Japan, and Korea to this day. Those courtroom tensions and contradictions could also be seen playing out across Asia as the trial unfolded in the crucial early years of the Cold War, from China’s descent into civil war to Japan’s successful postwar democratic elections to India’s independence and partition.

ORDER THE BOOK

Order Judgment at Tokyo from Penguin Random House.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Gary Bass, William P. Boswell Professor of World Politics of Peace and War at Princeton University, is the author of Judgment at Tokyo: World War II on Trial and the Making of Modern Asia (Knopf); The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger, and a Forgotten Genocide (Knopf); Freedom's Battle: The Origins of Humanitarian Intervention (Knopf); and Stay the Hand of Vengeance: The Politics of War Crimes Tribunals (Princeton University Press).


The Blood Telegram was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in general nonfiction and won the Arthur Ross Book Award from the Council on Foreign Relations, the Bernard Schwartz Book Award from the Asia Society, the Lionel Gelber Prize, the Cundill Prize in Historical Literature, the Robert H. Ferrell Book Prize from the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, and the Ramnath Goenka Award in India. It was a New York Times and Washington Post notable book of the year, and a best book of the year in The Economist, Financial Times, The New Republic, and Kirkus Reviews. Freedom's Battle was a New York Times notable book of the year and a Washington Post best book of the year. Judgment at Tokyo was named as one of 10 best books of the year by The Washington Post; the 12 essential nonfiction books of the year by The New Yorker; the 100 notable books of the year by The New York Times; the best books of the year by The Economist, Foreign Affairs, and Air Mail; and a New York Times Book Review editors’ choice. Bass has written articles for International Security, Ethics, Philosophy & Public Affairs, The Yale Journal of International Law, The Michigan Law Review, Daedalus, Nomos, and other journals, as well as numerous book chapters in edited volumes. A former reporter for The Economist, Bass writes often for The New York Times, and has also written for the The New Yorker, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, The Atlantic, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The New Republic, and other publications. A.B. Harvard College, Ph.D. Harvard University.

 

ABOUT THE MODERATOR

Kal Raustiala holds the Promise Institute Chair in Comparative and International Law at UCLA Law School and is a Professor at the UCLA International Institute, where he teaches in the Program on Global Studies. Since 2007 he has served as Director of the UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations. From 2012-2015 he was UCLA’s Associate Vice Provost for International Studies and Faculty Director of the International Education Office. Professor Raustiala's research focuses on international law, international relations, and intellectual property.


Sponsor(s): Burkle Center for International Relations, Asia Pacific Center, Center for Korean Studies, The Promise Institute for Human Rights at UCLA School of Law