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New Book on War Crimes Trials in Asia

Nov 21, 2016

Dr. Kerstin von Lingen, Independent Research Group Leader at the Cluster, edited the new book “War Crimes Trials in the Wake of Decolonization and Cold War in Asia, 1945-1956: Justice in Time of Turmoil”. It was published by Palgrave Macmillan in November 2016. The volume features contributions by members of Junior Research Group “Transcultural Justice” and reflects in particular the results of an international symposium held in 2014 in Heidelberg.

This book investigates the political context and intentions behind the trialling of Japanese war criminals in the wake of World War Two. After the Second World War in Asia, the victorious Allies placed around 5,700 Japanese on trial for war crimes. The trials were meant to consolidate United States hegemony over Japan in the Pacific, but they lost impetus as Japan turned into an ally of the West in the Cold War. Embattled colonial powers used the trials to bolster their authority against nationalist revolutionaries, but they found that the principles of international humanitarian law were sharply conflicting with the inequalities embodied in colonialism. Within nationalist movements, local hostility often overshadowed the reckoning with Japan. And hovering over the trials was the critical question: just what was justice for the Japanese in a world where all sides had committed atrocities?

Kerstin von Lingen is Leader of the Junior Research Group “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”. Her research foci are transnational and global history, war crimes trials in Europe and Asia, and the history of the United Nations War Crimes Commission. She is the 2016 laureate of the International Chair for the History of the Second World War, awarded by the Université Libre de Bruxelles.

The publication results particularly from the outcome of the international symposium “Rethinking Justice? Decolonization, Cold War, and Asian War Crimes Trials after 1945” that was held in Heidelberg in October 2014.

In November 2016, the volume is published as part of the book series “World Histories of Crime, Culture and Violence” at Palgrave Macmillan. The series publishes academic works addressing themes and issues of interdisciplinary histories of crime, criminal justice, criminal policy, culture and violence.

For more information, please visit the website of the publication.


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