Sunday, May 22, 2022

Webster: Japan's Transnational War Reparations Litigation: An Empirical Analysis

Timothy Webster (Western New England Univ. - Law) has posted Japan's Transnational War Reparations Litigation: An Empirical Analysis (Harvard International Law Journal, forthcoming). Here's the abstract:
Negotiating war reparations is traditionally the province of the political branches, yet in recent decades, domestic courts have presided over hundreds of compensation lawsuits stemming from World War II. In the West, governments responded to these lawsuits, in many instances, with elaborate compensation mechanisms. In East Asia, by contrast, civil litigation continues apace. This article analyzes eighty-three lawsuits filed in Japan, the epicenter of Asia’s World War II reparations movement. While many scholars criticize the passivity of Japanese courts on war-related issues, this Article detects a meaningful role for Japanese courts in the reparations process: awarding compensation, verifying facts, and allocating legal liability. This Article also articulates a classification scheme to understand the various types of lawsuits brought under this movement. By examining all relevant cases, not just the ones that attract significant media attention, this Article delimits the breadth and depth of the war reparations movement. It also posits a more active role for the Japanese judiciary in the war reparations debate than scholars have heretofore observed. In consistently awarding compensation to victims of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japanese judges not only pay a key role in providing compensation, they also have taken a stance that clearly countervails policy prerogatives of Japan’s ruling conservative party.