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New Book edited by Kerstin von Lingen

Mar 27, 2018

PD Dr. Kerstin von Lingen edited the book Transcultural Justice at the Tokyo Tribunal: The Allied Struggle for Justice, 1946-48. It examines Tokyo Tribunal as an arena of transcultural engagement and includes contributions from Cluster and former Cluster members Dr. Milinda Banerjee, Lisette Schouten, Anja Bihler, Valentyna Polunina and Ann-Sophie Schoepfel.

"The Tokyo Tribunal has remained in the shadows of its famous sister, the Nuremberg tribunal for a long time," explains editor von Lingen. "Unlike in Nuremberg, the task of delivering "justice" was complicated in Tokyo by the fact that the trials went on for nearly three years, from 1946 to 1948. Also, eleven national teams had to be balanced, which had very different perceptions of both the war time record as well as a strategy for post-war politics in Asia." Judges and lawyers in Tokyo were constrained by their respective national policies, but they also often displayed powerful individual voices on basic questions of legal ethics.

The neglect of the Tokyo Tribunal is also surprising, insofar as this tribunal was a well-organized allied endeavour and prefigured the international courts of our day. Von Lingen explains her methodology for the book: "We scrutinized the selection of judges and prosecutors, and obstacles of procedure like translation and scarce evidence. We also analyzed faction-making behind the scenes, so this book provides a fresh look onto one of the most complicated trials in history."

The editor also stresses a rather unknown detail about the proceedings: "Interesting about the Tokyo trial was also the fact that it had not only a large prosecution section which involved female attorneys — a novelty at the time. It also had an Allied defense section which was composed to support the Japanese defense lawyers, who were unfamiliar with anglo-saxon legal customs. This was a remarkable element of fair play and an important transcultural mediating factor".

The volume, which was published with Brill, offers an innovative approach to the Tokyo Tribunal as an arena of transcultural engagement, and contextualizes these legal agents as products of transnational forces, constituted through dialogues about legal concepts, frameworks of international legal institutions, and processes of faction-making. Transcultural Justice at the Tokyo Tribunal brings together scholars from different disciplines to raise significant legal and historiographic questions about the international military trial in Tokyo. The book balances contributions by emerging and established scholars, and takes advantage of a multi-language approach, expertise in the field, and extensive archival research in national archives, which have so far been neglected due to language barriers.


Editor Kerstin von Lingen was leader of the Junior Research Group A16 “Transcultural Justice: Legal Flows and the Emergence of International Justice within the East Asian War Crimes Trials, 1945-1954” at the Cluster “Asia and Europe.” She was further Graduate Programme Lecturer and supervisor of PhD projects within her research group. Currently, she is Professor at the Chair for Research on Genocide, Violence and Dictatorshipat the University of Vienna


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