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Australia's Prosecution of Japanese War Criminals: Stimuli and Constraints

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Chapter Summary

In November 1945, the matter of war crimes was very much on the agenda of the Allied powers, and particularly so in Australia. This chapter first considers the 'stimuli' that impelled Australia to commence that program and then looks at the 'constraints' that limited the program's effectiveness and eventually brought it to its end. The Allied prosecution of Japanese war criminals at the end of World War Two was conducted at both an international level and at national levels. The chapter explains the terms 'major' and 'minor' war criminals. The term 'major' war criminal originated in the Nuremberg Charter and referred to leaders, organisers and instigators involved in either crimes against peace, war crimes or crimes against humanity. The post-war Australian war crimes trials program, together with the various other Allied war crimes trials programs of that era, provided an important stimulus for the strengthening of international humanitarian law.

Keywords: Australian war crimes trials; international humanitarian law; Japanese War Criminals; Nuremberg Charter



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