Dong Jing shen pan (The Tokyo Trial) (2006)




Director:    Qunshu Gao.

Starring:     Joe Bosco, Yongdai Ding (General Zhu), Damian Lau (Mei Ru'ao), Kelly Lin (Yoshiko Wada), Eric Tsang, Kenneth Tsang (Hsiang Che-Chun), Kwan-Ho Tse (Kitano), Da Ying (Ni Zheng Yu), Ken Zhu (Xiao Nan), Dan Ziskie.

a Chinese judge helps convinces the other international judges to choose the death penalty for the Japanese war criminals



Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film.  And some of the spelling mistakes are due to the translator. 

Judge Dr. Mei of China says:  "Finally I saw the statue of Yokogawa and Tokyo after it was bombed. I stared at the view from both sides of the road and the expressions of the men and lady on the road. My impression is that the factories in Yokogawa and Tokyo have disappeared in the bombing. This time I felt the true meaning. Regardless of what the men and the woman and I saw 22 years ago in Japan, thing were already so different. Who changed it? . . . Who are we going to judge? They disturbed the world, tormented China and ruined the future of their own country."

He adds that this is a tragedy, but also a retribution.

April 4, 1946.

Judge William delivers the oath to the judges:  "We affirm that as members of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, we will duly administer justice according to law, without fear, favor or affection, according to our conscience, and the best of our understanding, . . . "  The War Crime Trials are about to begin.  The seating order is: The USA, Britain, China, the Soviet Union, Canada, France, Australia, the Netherlands, India, New Zealand and the Philippines. Mr. Mei, the Chinese judge, objects to the seating order. He wants it done by the order of the nations signing the Instrument of Japanese Surrender. The senior judge, named William, gets exasperated by the man.

Two Japanese drunks attack a diplomatic vehicle saying that the Chinese pigs should go home. After all, the Japanese were beaten by the Americans, not by the Chinese. The driver shoots and kills the two drunks as they become more disorderly.  The two passengers, the reporter Xiao Nan and judge Mei were both ashamed of the driver.

The senior judge keeps the seating order as it was. Mr. Mei walks out. The judge speaks with Mei in private. He says the arrangement was ordered by the Supreme Commander Douglas MacArthur himself. Mei doesn't believe it.  He explains his position:  "In this war against Japanese aggression China has suffered the most and fought the longest and the hardest. Britain, on the other hand, has been retreating and surrendering time and time again. Itís unthinkable that Chinaís place in this trial should be relegated to a spot below Britain."

The Supreme Judge talks it over with the other judges. He comes back and says this is just a dress rehearsal, but Mei still says it is not acceptable. The whole Chinese people would reproach him for his weakness and incompetence if he did not insist that China be put above Britain in the seating arrangement.

Sir William goes to talk it over with the judges again. He comes back and says Mei has won his point. Mei now sits to the left of William. The judges come out and the photographers take pictures of all the seated judges.

Pretty Yousuko comes into a bar.   The pretty Japanese bartender, dancing with some American soldiers, tells her to join them. Yousuko declines.  The Chinese reporter comes over to talk with her. She starts crying. Later Yousuko and the reporter are with three Japanese men. Yousuko says they agreed not to talk about the war. But Kitano asks the Chinese reporter why did he come back to Japan? To strut around like a winner or to be with Yousuko? He says that Tokyoís 35 sections were blown up and 80,000 people lost their lives. In Hiroshima and Nagasaki 100,000 people died.

The reporter asks him does he know how many people died in Shanghai and Nanjing? Wuhan bombed, Chongqing bombed, Huabei butchered.. Does he know how many Chinese women were raped? Kitano gets angry and screams thatís a lie. He starts to attack the reporter, but Yousuko pushes over the drunken Kitano.

Because of the war the family lost happiness. Fangzi talked to Xiao Nan. Brother and Zhengfu were back from the war and were drunk everyday. Nobody knew what happened in China. Fangzi and her sister Yingzi left school to respond to the Dong Tiao Council and joined the battle service group. They have never been heard of since.

Xian Nan was the reporter sent to Tokyo by Dagong Newspaper before the war started. He was studying in Tokyo and Fangzi and Xiao Nan were his classmates.

The trial begins. The twenty-eight accused Japanese war criminal file into the courtroom. William says they are all past leaders of Japan.

Chief Prosecutor Joseph Keenan begins the prosecution statement. The defendants have been indicted on five separate charges: premeditation, organization, initiation and/or execution of a war of aggression in violation of international law.

One of the defendants canít or wonít sit still. He keeps causing a commotion. He reaches down and slaps the head of Tojo, saying that he will kill him. William commands that he be removed from the courtroom. The MPs take him out.

The defense lawyer challenges the qualifications of the judges. William starts to get mad and Mei has to tell him to calm down, because the lawyer is deliberately trying to provoke him.

Ougawa Jyumei, who seemed so crazy at court, was the theorist of the Japanese radicalism and militarism, as well as the September 18th Incidentís direct organizer. He had syphilis, cephalitis and anoia.

Sadao Araki starts first. He says he is not guilty. The vice leader of the defense team, who was also Hideki Tojoís attorney, named Hirose Itiro, built a defense team composed of over one hundred people. Their strategy was to create confusion and disruption to make the trial go longer.

Kitano is informed that his brother Gunni died in the war. Yousuko and Kitano cry and hug to comfort each other. He then attacks Xiao Nan sayiong it was the Chinese like him who killed his brother. Yousuko tells Xiao Nan to go away. He leaves. Gunni was sent to China with Hideo, Yousuko's brother. Hideo is back, but Gunni is dead.

The question of when was the beginning of the Japan-China war was the most important point for China in the entire Tokyo trial. After the Guandong Army entered northeast China, their frequent actions of defiance made the relationships between Japan and China very tense. It was decided that the war started with the Guanggutun Incident, which was premeditated by the Japanese army.

August 7, 1946. Zhang Zuolin was the head of the Chinese government, says the prosecution, when the Japanese invaded China. The Japanese deliberately had the head of the Chinese government assassinated.

A deposition was given by former Japanese Naval Minister Keisuke Okada. The Japanese defense lawyer objects. So the prosecution calls Ruykichi Tanaka as a witness. He was the former Lt. Gen. of the Japanese Army and former head of the Japanese Armyís Internal Affairs Office. The Huanggutun Incident happened on June 4, 1928. Tanaka testifies that it was planned and carried out by the former brainman of the Guandong Army Iwamoto Ousaku. On June third, 1928, at the crossing of the Nanman and Jingfeng railways, Ousaku and his men bombed the train that came from Beijing on which Zhang Zuolin was sitting. The prosecutor asks: Do you think the Huanggutun Incident, the Shanghai Incident, the September 18th Incident and the July 7th Incident were all planned, instigated and carried out by Japan? Yes. Who were these men? Hideki Tojo, Dohihara Kenji and Itagaki Siro.

August 10, 1946. Chinaís last emperor, Pu Yi, who had been held in Boli Prison in Russia, is asked to testify. This shocked the Japanese. The Japanese had nominated him to be the Kangde emperorí son emperor. He was the Emperor of Japanese puppet-state Manchukuo under the Japanese. He testifies that the Japanese ran everything. He, in fact, testified for eight days.

August 27, 1946. Pu Yi left the court under the protection of Russia and the USA. He had testified that Japan had invaded Man Zhou Li directly. It was an unlawful aggression.

Because of strict Japanese censorship, the Japanese civilians did not know about the butchering of Chinese captives and civilians by the Japanese soldiers.

September 1946. One of the accused war criminals says there was no butchery in Nanjing, China. The case of the prosecution was all composed of lies. But Robert Wilson, an American doctor who had lived in Nanjing from January 1936 to August 1940, testifies, along with many. They testify that on December 13, 1937 when the Japanese entered Nanking they went into a killing frenzy. And they engaged in endless burning, looting and rape. In the first six weeks of Japanese occupation of Nanjing, they killed over 200,000 people. The Chinese say that it was as much as 300,000 people.

Yousuko embraces a crying Sakurako. Sakura was Fangziís sister. She came back from China. She joined the battle service group, but she ended up becoming a sex tool for the Japanese soldiers.

Japanese soldier Hideo comes to the local bar. He goes a bit crazy and asks Mei and some others to forgive him. Xiao Nan runs to get Yousuko. She and Kitano run to the bar. Yousuko sees to her brother, but Kitano gets a knife to kill the Chinese customers. But Hideo takes the knife away from Kitano. He snaps the blade in two and then with all his might he thrusts the broken blade into his stomach area. (The wound does not kill him.)

It has been one year since Mei came to Tokyo. The individual defenses of the accused war criminals begin.

September 16, 1947. Ni Zhengao was the leader of the team that came to help Mei. Accused war criminal Itagaki claims that the Japanese acted in self-defense in the September 18th Incident. They had information that the Chinese were going to attack them first, so they reacted. But he has no proof of the Chinese intentions.

The war which was launched and enlarged by Hideki Tojo brought Asia to a near disaster, but brought Japan a far-reaching secret anguish. It created a whole generation of dispirited people.

Kitano gets out his brotherís army rifle. He polishes it up and takes it apart to put it in a music case. In the bar the pretty bartender, Miss Chiba, dances for Mei and Xiao Nan. Someone shoots the bartender for this. The person fires again but misses. The bartender dies.  After that Mei and Xiano Nan never went into that bar again. The case was never solved.

The trial of Tojo begins. The prosecutor says that between 1937 and 1941 the estimate is that the Japanese killed more than two million Chinese people. In the cross-examination the prosecutor asks Tojo would he and the others, if released, start more wars? There is a gasp when Tojo answers "yes".

In the 187th session the prosecutor gives his closing arguments. Joseph Keenan says: "Throughout the history of civilization, no one has ever seen human nature at such a peak of cruelty and barbarity. Countless people have died horrendous, unthinkable deaths to feed Japanís insatiable appetite for expansion. "

Yuigi Kitano now threatens to kill Xiao Nan with his brotherís rifle. He wants revenge for his brother and all the Japanese who died in the war. From the adjacent room Hideo shouts that it was he who killed Kitano's brother. He says that Gunni became a devil in the war. "I had to kill him." Yuigi points his rifle at Hideo, who calls him: "Japanese devil!" Kitano pulls the trigger and shoots Hideo near the heart. He then tells Yousuko that he can tolerate her not loving him, but to love a Chinese! He fires and hits Yousuko in the chest. Xiao Nan strangles Kitano to death. Then Yousuko dies in his arms.

A fight occurred among the judges over the question of the gallows. Most of the eleven judges were against the death penalty.

Mei was very upset about the three death in which Xiao Nan was involved. He gets a bit carried away saying he thinks of suicide. His Chinese colleague scolds him for this.

When the judges are about to vote, Mei gives a long argument for the death penalty.

The judges vote 6 to 5 for the death penalty.

All the defendants are guilty as charged. Seven are to be put to death.

Mei ends by saying he did his best.


Good movie (despite the bad English subtitles).  Thank goodness, a lot of the movie is in English.  By this point in time, I have seen so many films about Japanese brutality and cruelty that I was in need of a movie like this.  The film shows the men behind the cruelty and barbarity; the men who stated the war of aggression in the first place.  It was good to see these evil men face judgment day.  I also wanted to see a movie about how the average Japanese were reacting to the war crimes and the uncovering of the horrible nature of Japan's war crimes.  And this film gives a little of this in its love story revolving around the Japanese woman Yousuko and Chinese man Xiao Nan.  It shows that a lot of Japanese refused to believe what actually happened, saying that it was all lies.  But some were truly shocked.  In one scene a Japanese female reporter gets so upset and confused that she faints in the courtroom.  And, yes, the Japanese finally got the message.  In their constitution they outlawed any wars of aggression, of offense.  I'm not crazy about the death penalty, but I would certainly have made an exception for these Japanese war criminals. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.



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