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Scholars call for museum dedicated to Tokyo Trials

By Xu Junqian in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2016-11-14 07:43

A commemorative museum dedicated to the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, known as the Tokyo Trials, was suggested by scholars at a two-day forum in Shanghai on Saturday to mark the 70th anniversary of the opening of the trials.

The trials were convened on April 29, 1946, to try the leaders of the Empire of Japan for war crimes.

"The Tokyo Trials defended civilization," said Gao Wenbing, the only remaining survivor who participated as a translator and assistant prosecutor.

"I am 95 years old this year, but history should not be forgotten and facts should not be distorted. I hope I can see a commemorative museum in my lifetime."

Scholars call for museum dedicated to Tokyo Trials

After World War II, the Allied Forces tried Japanese war criminals, with the proceedings playing an important role in shaping the postwar Asia-Pacific order. The trials were said to be the longest and largest in human history.

A score of historians and jurists from around the world gathered on Saturday for a forum on the Tokyo Trials and world peace, hosted by Shanghai Jiao Tong University. There were six panel discussions, with 25 scholars from countries including China, the United States, Japan, Britain and New Zealand in attendance. Also attending was Mei Xiaokan, daughter of Mei Ru'ao, a Chinese judge who participated in the Tokyo Trials.

Xiang Longwan, honorary director of Shanghai Jiao Tong University's Tokyo Trials research center, was quoted by chinanews.com as saying that a commemorative museum is in the preparation stage.

Ending on Nov 12, 1948, the trials charged 28 defendants, mostly Japanese military and government officials, based on testimony from hundreds of witnesses and thousands of exhibits.

"The proceedings laid a foundation for rules that can be applied, especially for small countries, to crimes against peace. I am not naive enough to believe that it will stop people from starting wars, but at least it might make them think twice," said Neil Boister, a professor at the University of Canterbury Law School.

Zhang Jie, president of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, said regional conflicts and tense situations remind us that peace remains a common pursuit.

In 2011, the university established the Center for Tokyo Trial Studies in collaboration with China National Library. It is the world's first academic research institution devoted to the study of the Tokyo Trials.

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