Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Wartime Atrocities and the Politics of Treason in the Ruins of the Japanese Empire, 1937–1953
by Lawson, Konrad Mitchell, Ph.D., Harvard University, 2012, 405; 3543071
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation explores the relationship between violence and betrayal in retribution against military and police collaborators who helped maintain Japan's wartime occupations up until its defeat in 1945. Looking at the approaches taken in the colonies of British Asia, postwar treason trials in the Philippines, and Chinese Communist approaches in wartime and postwar Shandong province, this study argues that the laws and rhetoric of treason were deeply flawed tools for confronting the atrocities of war. At the very moment that war crimes trials were defining a set of acts that constituted crimes against all humanity, around the world thousands of individuals who helped perpetrate them were treated as primarily guilty of crimes against the nation. Each of the chapters in this work examines the costs and consequences of this for postwar societies on the eve of decolonization and civil war.

Throughout the territories under Japanese occupation, locally recruited military and police forces comprised the largest category of individuals to face accusations of treason in the aftermath of war, but were also those most likely to be complicit in atrocities. Among the ranks of the disloyal, they were both the most useful as well as the most dangerous to postwar regimes and almost always separated out from other accused collaborators. Their treason was often treated as a disease of the heart which, once cured, allowed them to be deployed once more. Attempts to try them for their betrayal often faced destabilizing political opposition, especially in cases where their wartime actions were carried out in the name of independence from colonial rule, and were almost always reduced in scale to focus on those accused both of treason and atrocities. Marred by the politics of betrayal, the resulting hybrid proceedings failed to achieve a reckoning with wartime massacres and torture.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Gordon, Andrew
Commitee: Harrison, Henrietta, Maier, Charles
School: Harvard University
Department: History
School Location: United States -- Massachusetts
Source: DAI-A 74/03(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: History, Modern history
Keywords: Atrocities, British Empire, China, Japan, Philippines, Treason, War crimes
Publication Number: 3543071
ISBN: 9781267715722