International Military Tribunal for the Far East

August 5, 1946

Justices on bench

The National Archives

Following the Cairo Declaration of December 1, 1943, in which the United States, Great Britain, and China announced their determination "to restrain and punish the aggression of Japan" in the Far East theater, the Allies pronounced their policy regarding Japanese war crimes in the Potsdam Declaration on July 26, 1945. About two weeks after the surrender, the Japanese government agreed that the provisions of the Potsdam Declaration would be carried out, and on January 19, 1946, General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP), issued a special proclamation that announced the establishment of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE). Eleven judges, nine from the nations that signed the Instrument of Surrender, one from India and one from the Commonwealth of the Philippines, were eventually appointed by the SCAP. Following months of preparation, the IMTFE, also known as the Tokyo War Crimes Trial, first convened on April 29, 1946, and four days later the prosecution opened its case, charging the defendants with "Conventional War Crimes," "Crimes against Peace," and "Crimes against Humanity." The trial continued for more than two and a half years, hearing testimony from 419 witnesses, and admitting 4,336 exhibits of evidence including depositions and affidavits from 779 other individuals