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International Military Tribunal for the Far East – This Day in History, Jan 19, 2023

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It was just 77 years ago today, January 19, 1946, when General MacArthur, victor over the Empire of Japan, established the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE). Much like the Nuremberg Trials for NAZI war criminals, this tribunal sought to punish those responsible for war crimes while members of the Empire of Japan.

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The trials were a tad different, for unlike in NAZI Germany and Fascist Italy, the leaders of the Japanese Empire were still alive when the official surrender was signed on September 2, 1945. Many in America had called for public officials to be executed, including the Emperor. However, the Emperor was spared, and though being governed by a Constitution, the United States, represented by General MacArthur, along with the new Japanese government, rebuilt the island nation into the modern country it is today, with the exception of the occasional Godzilla invasion. However, several other high government officials were placed on trial and executed.

Perhaps the most infamous of all was Hideki Tojo, who tried taking his own life as American soldiers came to arrest him, by shooting himself in the chest, only to be nursed back to health. He was then put on trial, found guilty, and hung. In all, seven defendants were sentenced to death by hanging, and no known photographs of their bodies were released to the media, for MacArthur feared it would lead to a national embarrassment and anger over the nation he was trying to rebuild.

Sixteen others were sentenced to life terms, though many were paroled later in the 1950s. Still today there is some controversy surrounding the tribunals, for in the name of peace, many say that criminals got away with it.

What was happening yesterday, January 18th?

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