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Tokyo Trials again in the spotlight

By Zhang Kun in Shanghai | | Updated: 2016-12-13 08:51

A new documentary series on the tribunals of accused Japanese war criminals will be screened on International Channel Shanghai from today (Dec 13).

To mark the 70th anniversary of the unprecedented post-World War II tribunal against Japanese leaders, Shanghai Media Group worked with the Tokyo Trial Research Center at Shanghai Jiaotong University to produce The Tokyo Trials.

Earlier this month, a previous version of the documentary, produced by the same team, won Best Documentary Series at the Asian Television Awards in Singapore.

But Head of SMG News Center, Song Jiongming, said the first series wasn't enough.

"The second season of the three episodes has been made because the research has grown stronger and new discoveries have been made," Song said.

Also, the development of international politics has inspired documentary makers to see the historical event with a more objective and accurate point of view, he said.

The three new episodes, titled The Battle for the Truth, Beyond Victor's Justice, and A History Etched in Memory, feature the latest historical discoveries and academic achievements, including visual testimonies and evidence that has been published for the first time.

The trials, known as the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, took place in Tokyo from May 1946 to Sept 1948. As an initiative to implement the Cairo Declaration, the tribunal followed the model of the Nuremberg Trials, and tried leaders of Japan for conspiracy to start and wage war, committing atrocities against humanity, and planning, authorizing or failing to prevent transgressions among the commanders.

Cheng Zhaoqi, a professor of history at Shanghai Jiaotong University, said that the Japanese attorneys committed systematic perjury during the trial. Historical video records of witnesses speaking at the court are presented for the first time too.

High-ranking officials in Japan have made repeated attempts to overthrow the result of the Tokyo Trials, sometimes calling it "the trial of the victors", Cheng said.

The creation of a calm, rational and objective documentary such as this will be a prompt and effective response to their claims, as well as teaching younger generations about the history, he said.

The new documentary interviewed a number of Japanese politicians, such as former prime ministers Naoto Kan and Yukio Hatoyama, and former Japanese ambassador to China, Yuji Miyamoto.

They spoke about their perceptions of the trials, as well as what is the right attitude for Japan to take on its history.

The three new episodes also showed the historical site of the trial, and the Sugamo Prison where the war criminals were held.

No trace of the past can be found in these places now, the documentary found.

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