The International Military Tribunal of the Far East (IMTFE), otherwise known as the Tokyo Trial, has received new scholarly attention in Japan since the early 2000s after previously sealed archives were made public. The trial has also received renewed attention in literature and film. Journalist Yamasaki Toyoko’s best-selling novel Futatsu no sokoku (Two Homelands, 1983) is loosely based on David Akira Itami’s work as a Nisei monitor at the trial. In 1984 NHK released a film version of the novel titled Sanga moyu (The Mountains and rivers are burning). Other recent media depictions of the trial include Tokyo saiban (Tokyo trial, 1983) by Kobayashi Masaki and the recent 2016 Netflix mini-series The Tokyo Trial directed by Pieter Verhoeff and Rob W. King. Twenty-eight defendants, including military leaders, diplomats, and civilians were accused of war crimes. There have been many criticisms of the trial’s lack of impartiality. One major reason is the conviction of diplomat Shigemitsu Mamoru, who was an advocate of peace. Although he received the lightest sentence of Class A War Criminals, many critics say he should not have spent a single day in prison, much less in the courtroom. While there are brief references to him in Yamasaki’s novel and the various film versions of the trial, to date there has been no translation of his prison diary. Shigemitsu never took the witness stand so there is no official record of his point of view in the trial transcript. It is through his prison diary that one can hear the voice of this stoic figure of Japanese wartime diplomacy.


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