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Memorial hall dedicated to Japan war trials to be built in Shanghai

  • November 25, 2017
  • , Kyodo News , 8:32 p.m.
  • English Press

Plans are underway to build in Shanghai a memorial hall for the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, the Japanese equivalent of the Nuremberg trials, it was learned Saturday from a Chinese academic who heads a center dedicated to the so-called Tokyo trials.


According to Cheng Zhaoqi, director of Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s Center for the Tokyo Trial Studies, the Chinese government gave its approval for the construction in the summer of 2016.


A site for the hall in Shanghai, which was formerly occupied by Japan, is currently being selected, with the completion date still up in the air.


Cheng said that in addition to documents and photographs from the tribunal, giant oil paintings of judges, prosecutors and defendants such as wartime Prime Minister Gen. Hideki Tojo will be on display.


The trials lasted from May 1946 to November 1948, with 25 Class-A war criminals being convicted and sentenced. Seven including Tojo were put to death.


The leadership of Chinese President Xi Jinping has stressed the justness of the tribunal for condemning atrocities committed by Japanese soldiers during World War II.


Amid plans by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government to revise the postwar Constitution and strengthen Japan’s military, the construction of the hall is viewed as an attempt by Beijing to sharpen criticism of Tokyo over wartime-legacy issues.


If completed, there is a high possibility of the hall being recognized as an important base for “anti-Japan” education, similarly to the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall in the eastern Chinese city.


China, which boasts of its victor status in World War II, has claimed that it is an important contributor to the postwar international order.


There is even speculation that it is part of plans to boost patriotism and build momentum at home toward turning China into a prosperous and strong country as endorsed at last month’s Communist Party congress.


As a part of the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty, the Japanese government accepted the verdicts handed down at the Tokyo trials.


However, some Japanese conservatives assert that the trials were strongly colored by a desire of the victorious Allied Powers for revenge.


Among the criticisms of the trials is the ex post facto nature of the laws that were applied, such as Tojo’s conviction for crimes against peace.


China, for its part, regularly accuses Japan of rewriting wartime history and denounces visits by Japanese Cabinet ministers to Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine, where Class-A war criminals, 12 of whom were convicted at the Tokyo military tribunal, are enshrined.


The Center for the Tokyo Trial Studies, which opened in 2011, bills itself as the world’s first academic research organization specialized in Tokyo trials research and literature. Among its activities are symposiums that draw domestic and international experts.

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