Why were the Nuremberg trials after WWII for the Germans only? The same charges used against the the Germans could be easily extended to the Japanese or possibly Italians. They have committed as much war atrocities as the others against the Chinese and POW. Why was not the Japanese Emperor and his generals charged as most of the German counterparts?

  • 2
    It's just weird to put up trials and all, pretending like the matter is about justice when in fact it is about being on the right team. The murderers on the winning team become heroes, the murderers on the loosing team get executed. It's not justice, it's who won.. and we should stop pretending like it is anything else.
    – user202
    Commented Jan 2, 2013 at 18:23
  • 4
    @HermannIngjaldsson: No, it's not as simple as that. People like Arthur Harris might have been given ranks and peerages but they definitely did not become heroes. That's because the good, if flawed, side won: people have access to the records and can judge for themselves the actions of the participants in the war. Had the other, evil, side won, Himmler would have been declared a hero and whoever dissented from that would be swiftly done in. So please, do not confuse flawed good with unalloyed evil. Commented Jan 20, 2013 at 12:03
  • 1
    Had the other side won the other side would have been viewed as good today and this side would have been viewed as evil. For instance, those who conducted unlimited bombing campaigns over mainland Europe with the sole purpose of murdering as many civilians as possible went home with medals and the highest of honors. The same has been true in pretty much every war since.
    – user202
    Commented Jan 20, 2013 at 13:00
  • 3
    @HermannIngjaldsson Well, here we come full circle - it boils down to political theory. In my book, the "general masses" have a chance of actually thinking for themselves, provided they get a decent education. It's a model that works so-so in practice but that's the only viable foundation for a modern democracy. In your model, the masses have no chance of figuring things out, just by dint of being the masses. The necessary corollary is that the masses must be ruled by an overclass of those who can figure things out. Like, say, the Party, be it red or brown. Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 0:26
  • 1
    This question would benefit from preliminary research.
    – MCW
    Commented Jan 30, 2018 at 15:43

4 Answers 4


Look up the Tokyo trials. As for the Italians, they weren't implicated in war crimes on the same scale as the Germans and Japanese.

  • Thanks you Sir. This is the first time I heard of the Tokyo trials. Most of the documentaries I watched were all about Nuremberg. Commented Dec 25, 2012 at 19:17
  • As an addendum, the japanese Emperor was not judged for political reasons.
    – xrorox
    Commented Jan 31, 2018 at 12:39

Japanese war criminals were tried in Tokyo after the war. Generals Tojo (the former Japanese Prime Minister) and Yamashita (in charge of the Philippines) were hanged as a result.

  • The link for the Yamasita trial you have isn't working for me. Also while it is in popular press rather than journal this account shows that the trial was victor's justice.
    – jmw
    Commented Jan 30, 2018 at 18:37

The 'big' trial as mentioned above was carried out in Tokyo. But there were numerous other trials of Japanese personnel with various degrees of fairness. My answer is a summary based upon sources that I am familiar with.

  • The US

Roger Mansell has a collection of the American lead trials under Pacific Area War Crimes Trials, Guam that were mostly held in Guam.

  • UK/Commonwealth

Australia and England held trials all over the South Pacific from New Guinea to India. The Singapore trials covered a wide range of crimes, especially the Death railway. Singapore war crimes trial is a pretty informative site that can take you to some better primary documentation.

But despite the desire for justice, most of the Japanese convicted were rehabilitated as Japan became an important buffer in the cold war.

  • China (ROC and CCP)

The situation was highly complicated as the Japanese surrendered both to the communists and the KMT. The two acted very differently, Kushner's Men to Devils is great on this.

  • USSR

Many of the Japanese captured were in Manchuria and held by the Soviets essentially without trial. I don't have a great set of sources for this, here's a NY Times article. I am least familiar with this and could use suggestions.


After the Second World War there were over 2200 separate trials of Japanese personnel accused of war crimes (some trials with several defendants). The trials took place in more than 50 places in the Asia-Pacific region.

  • 7
    This answer would be improved with expansion upon the details and some source references.
    – Steve Bird
    Commented Jan 30, 2018 at 11:53

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.