Overdue Redress: Surveying and Explaining the Shifting Japanese Jurisprudence on Victims’ Compensation Claims


Victims of Japanese war crimes have historically faced many difficulties in their attempts to secure legal redress. Japanese courts traditionally employ a body of technical defenses to dismiss victims’ suits without reaching the merits of the individual complaint. Similarly, compensation suits filed in American courts against Japanese defendants have been dismissed with the encouragement of the American executive branch. This Note addresses a surprising shift in Japanese compensation jurisprudence away from the mechanical application of technical limitations. The new approach attempts to weigh the culpability of the defendant’s conduct in an effort to determine whether the technical defenses should apply. As to the impetus for this change in judicial attitude, this Note argues that it is motivated, at least in part, by judicial reconsiderations of Japanese national interest in light of the shifting power dynamic in East Asia.