Japan’s history as an imperial power was marked by strong militarism, which despite a brief democratic interlude between 1912 and 1926, resulted in wars with neighboring countries and the Allied forces during World War II. Following its defeat in 1945, democratic political reforms were instituted and a constitutional monarchy established.

After the end of World War II, and based on the Proclamation defining the terms of surrender, the International Military Tribunal of the Far East was established in Tokyo in 1946. Political and military wartime leaders were prosecuted for war crimes and crimes against humanity. In addition, extensive purges were conducted to deal with militarists and ultranationalists,  though many of the individuals initially purged were reintegrated in the 1950s. The emperor and his family were not indicted.

Japan is a parliamentary democracy. Reconciliation processes between Japan and neighboring countries, in particular South Korea, China and the Philippines, among other countries that once suffered under Japan’s occupation during WWII, are currently underway.


  • 03/06/2015. Utrecht TJDI Team in Japan for Fieldwork. Elizabeth Rhoads. In November 2014, Malini Laxminarayan and Anja Mihr travelled to Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka to conduct interviews with historians, memorial employees, legal officials and individuals involved in various transitional measures. For more on their preliminary findings, follow the link above.
  • 09/01/2015. Chandra Sriram’s field research in Japan. Elizabeth Rhoads. 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. To read Prof. Sriram's preliminary thoughts on the Japan case, follow the link above.
  • 30/10/2014 - 30/10/2014. Prof. Chandra Lekha Sriram at United Nations University in Japan. Prof. Sriram gave a public seminar at the United Nations University in Tokyo during her recent fieldwork in Japan. For more information click on the link above.