Pearl Harbor and The Tokyo Trials
Home Page / Beginning of Paper / Japanese War Crimes Links


        The attack on Pearl Harbor was clearly made in violation of international norms. A proper declaration of war was not issued, leaving the United States bereft of the required notice. This was due not only to a refusal by the Japanese to issue a valid declaration but also to a desire to preserve the surprise nature of the attack (not to mention to poor planning and chance). Even if a proper declaration of war had been issued, the attack was still undertaken in violation of the prohibition on aggressive war set forth in the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928 of which Japan was a signatory. The attack was clearly not an act of self-defense against a belligerent nation. While the United States had placed an economic embargo on the exporting of certain goods to Japan and was engaged in some hard-nosed diplomacy, it had not committed acts of war which would justify the use of force in self-defense. In sum, those Japanese leaders tried at the Tokyo Trials for their role in the attack on Pearl Harbor were rightly punished; in fact, many other leaders should rightly have been convicted and punished for the commission of war crimes and crimes against the peace.




Previous Page