Transitional Justice Delayed Is Not Transitional Justice Denied: Contemporary Confrontation of Japanese Human Experimentation During World War II Through a People's Tribunal

15 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2011

See all articles by Zachary D. Kaufman

Zachary D. Kaufman

University of Houston Law Center; Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law; Yale University - Law School; Stanford Law School; Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Date Written: September 9, 2011

Abstract

Human experimentation by Japanese officials during World War II presents one of the most horrifying instances of state-sponsored brutality. Since the end of the war, however, the Japanese government has not officially recognized that the atrocities occurred, nor has the U.S. government acknowledged its postwar role in sheltering the perpetrators of these heinous acts. This appalling yet unaddressed affair therefore demands international attention. Because typical transitional justice options are unavailable or inappropriate, the solution may lie in an innovative civil society initiative: a people’s tribunal that could pressure the Japanese and U.S. governments to bring meaningful closure to this tragedy.

This piece begins by explaining the need for contemporary confrontation of Japanese human experimentation during World War II. The piece then makes the case that a people’s tribunal is a compelling transitional justice option for addressing these crimes. The piece argues that a people’s tribunal could raise public awareness about these offenses and shame the relevant authorities into action. The piece further argues that, in any event, other transitional justice options, such as the International Criminal Court, would not be suitable for this case. The piece concludes by drawing some lessons learned from this case study about the promise and perils of attempting to promote justice and accountability for past atrocities.

Keywords: Transitional Justice, International Law, International Criminal Law, Japan, United States, U.S.S.R., China, Korea, Nazi Germany, Human Experimentation, Comfort Women, Atrocities, Genocide, War Crimes, World War II, Cold War, ICC, ICTY, ICTR, United Nations, International Citizens' Tribunals

Suggested Citation

Kaufman, Zachary D., Transitional Justice Delayed Is Not Transitional Justice Denied: Contemporary Confrontation of Japanese Human Experimentation During World War II Through a People's Tribunal (September 9, 2011). Yale Law & Policy Review, Vol. 26, No. 2, pp. 645-659, 2008, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1924030

Zachary D. Kaufman (Contact Author)

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Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law ( email )

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