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Home arrow Law arrow United States law and policy on transitional justice : principles, politics, and pragmatics
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October-December 1945: Negotiating the Specific Features of Transitional Justice

Transitional justice policy continued to develop apace through the autumn of 1945. On October 25, the USG distributed to its allies its “Policy of the United States in Regard to the Apprehension and Punishment of War Criminals in the Far East.” This proposal outlined the SCAP’s many powers and indicated that allies would be significantly involved in transitional justice issues in Japan through advisory roles to the SCAP and as staff on an international military tribunal. American allies, including Australia, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union, accepted the proposal more or less as a fait accompli.43

As most initiatives concerning the occupation of Japan, including transitional justice issues, had been led to date by the USG, its allies began lobbying for a broader and more substantive decision-making authority. On October 30, a Far Eastern Advisory Commission (FEAC), comprising the USG and several of its allies in the war against Japan, met in Washington, DC. However, the Soviet government expressed concerns about the mere advisory nature of the commission and lobbied for a greater voice in decisions concerning the occupation of Japan.44 While the USG worked with its allies to expand their occupational roles, the pursuit of transitional justice for alleged Japanese atrocity perpetrators endured. On November 30, Truman appointed Joseph Keenan to be the IMTFE’s chief prosecutor, called Chief of Counsel.45 Because of his distinguished military and legal service to the United States and his expertise in criminal law, Keenan was well-respected by senior USG officials, including Truman and MacArthur.46

Keenan arrived in Tokyo on December 6 with forty aides, and MacArthur established the IMTFE’s International Prosecution Section (IPS) two days later.47 As an American citizen was serving as the chief prosecutor, each of the other ten United Nations parties that had waged war with Japan48—and which were thus members of what would become the Far Eastern Commission (FEC)—had the power to appoint one of its citizens to serve as an Associate Counsel.49 Still, more staff members were needed to undertake the great amount of investigative and prosecutorial work. In total, the IPS would be comprised of fifty attorneys, half of whom were American.50

 
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