Memory of an Injustice: The "Comfort Women" and the legacy of the Tokyo Trial

Henry, N 2013, 'Memory of an Injustice: The "Comfort Women" and the legacy of the Tokyo Trial', Asian Studies Review, vol. 37, no. 3, pp. 362-380.


Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Journal Articles

Title Memory of an Injustice: The "Comfort Women" and the legacy of the Tokyo Trial
Author(s) Henry, N
Year 2013
Journal name Asian Studies Review
Volume number 37
Issue number 3
Start page 362
End page 380
Total pages 19
Publisher Routledge
Abstract International criminal prosecutions for serious violations of human rights are not only connected to a collective consciousness about the past; they also shape contemporary memory contestation. The International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE or Tokyo Tribunal) was established in 1946 to try Japanese defendants for war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes against peace. Part of the legacy of the Tokyo Trial is the debate that has ensued over the collective memory of injustice, including critiques of "victor's justice", as well as the failure of the Tribunal to adequately prosecute crimes such as the vivisection of prisoners, biological warfare and the systematic sexual enslavement of the so-called "comfort women". In this article, I argue that the proceedings and judgment of the Tokyo Trial have been frequently deployed to both confirm and deny the plight of the comfort women, particularly among revisionists and victim advocates The article illustrates not only the power of law to dictate how and what past events will be remembered, but also the transformative power of law as a site of memory contestation. As such, I argue that the "selective memory" of historical war crimes trials can be both an injustice and a collective memory of the past. Such legal memory is not stable and settled, but shifts and changes shape over the passage of time.
Subject Asian History
Keyword(s) collective memory
comfort women
denialism
IMTFE
Japan
Tokyo Tribunal
DOI - identifier 10.1080/10357823.2013.771770
Copyright notice © 2013 Asian Studies Association of Australia
ISSN 1035-7823
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