Thursday, August 2, 2012

38. Tokyo Trial (2006) *

What I fear is that neglect of the past will bring future sufferings
Mei, International Military Tribunal for the Far East (2005) 

The Tokyo Trial (2006) is the work of Chinese film maker, Gao Qunshu. The movie focuses on the experience of the Chinese Justice, Dr. Mei Ju-ao. The film was a box office success in China, taking in 1.25 million US dollars only ten days after its debut on September 1, 2006. A number of scenes illustrate the leading role taken by Judge Mei. 

The first of these scenes sees Dr Mei fight against the colonial seating arrangements first proposed by the Australian President of the Tribunal, Sir William Web. The Chinese Judge refuses to have the Australian, US and British judges take prime position in the trial when the Chinese fought and suffered the longest and hardest against the Japanese. In another scene, the Judge Mei takes a prominent role in asking the other justices to allow for the death penalty for the defendants. Article 16 of the Tokyo Charter provides that ‘The Tribunal shall have the power to impose upon an accused, on conviction, death or such other punishment as shall be determined by it to be just’. In the movie, the Judges agree to the death penalty by 6 votes to 5, with the film declaring that these deliberations remain a secret to this day. 

Alongside these judicial deliberations, the movie recreates the trial, including the examination and cross-examination of witnesses and the accused individuals. It also has a parallel story line of a love story, drama and murder linked to the aftermath of the Second World War (This part reminded me of a Korean dorama, very dramatic!).  

In Bing Bing Jia's chapter on the 'Legacy of the Tokyo Trial in China' in Beyond Victor's Justice? The Tokyo War Crimes Trial Revisited eds. Yuki Tanaka, Tim McCormack and Gerry Simpson, he comments that the perception of the Tokyo Trial has been predominately positive.  However 'Things unsaid, deeds unadjudicated, persons unindicted, and damages unrepaired in the trials all combine to leave a sour taste for many Chinese survivors of the war'.   This description accurately reflects the mood of the film which illustrates that Tokyo Saiban was more than victor's justice, it was also necessary and important for the Chinese people.  

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