Chandra Sriram’s field research in Japan

Posted by: Elizabeth Rhoads

9th January 2015

In October 2014, Chandra Sriram conducted research and interviews in Tokyo for the TJDI project.  Although the team research is ongoing, and many observations await clearance from interviewees, a number of insights emerged.

While it is evident that the term “transitional justice” postdates the Tokyo Tribunal, purges, amnesty, and reparations in Japan, the experiences of the country have more in common with familiar transitional justice case countries than might be expected.  Clearly, the context, including US occupation and transformation of the constitution, economy, and security forces, mean that the Japanese experience was unique in many ways.  However, key challenges such  as that of reforming and purging state institutions while maintaining expertise were not unusual.  Nonetheless, measures that might today be termed transitional justice appear, at least facially, to have had far less impact on rule of law and democratic control of the security forces, or participation, than externally-promoted institutional and constitutional reform.