Rob W. King's TOKYO TRIAL
TV series review by Dennis D. McDonald
Following WWII the Allied victors convened a special tribunal of international judges in Tokyo to try surviving leaders of Japan for war crimes. In Europe the Nuremberg trials in Germany had provided a model for judging. Now it was Japan's turn to face retribution for its actions in China and the Pacific.
I don't know how accurate all this is but can say that this 4-part Netflix series is a thoughtful exploration of the legal and to some extent moral issues involved in adapting existing laws to address unthinkable atrocities.
Production details and photography are excellent and include the skillful interpolation of black and white documentary footage. Also excellent is the recreation of the mundane details of office work including manual typewriters, file folders, and omnipresent cigarette smoke.
The politics of the day are not sidestepped. These include references to the evils of colonialism, the ongoing Chinese civil war, and the obvious fact it is the victors, embodied by General Douglas MacArthur's oversight, who are doing the judging.
The main focus of the narrative throughout the series is on two issues:
- If we accept that warfare can be waged by "civilized" countries, how do we draw the line between what is acceptable and what is not acceptable?
- How do we assign punishment to those responsible?
There's a lot of talking in this series. That's appropriate. Dramatic human details are secondary to exploring the issues. Those looking for courtroom histrionics or even modest amounts of action will be disappointed.
But if you are interested in history and can accept the ironies of judgement and retribution being discussed in mainly legal terms, this one's for you. Recommended.
Review copyright (c) 2017 by Dennis D. McDonald