Illuminating the scale and patterns of Japanese war crimes in Asia and the Pacific

Justice in Asia and the Pacific, 1945-1952

The trial of major German war criminals at the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg (IMT, 1945-1946) is remembered to this day as a landmark event in the historical development of international criminal justice. What is far less known but by no means of lesser importance is the fact that the Allied Powers contemporaneously held the trial of major Japanese war criminals at the International Military Tribunal for the Far East at Tokyo (IMTFE, 1946-1948) to establish the accountability of wartime Japanese leaders for the commission of aggression and atrocity in Asia and the Pacific.
IMTFE courtroom (Source: NARA)

WCDI Data and Visualization

A look into our project development, data workflows, technologies, and how we made our visualizations. We work with small datasets and mainly manual workflows to extract data from historical documents and produce maps, graphs, and other visualizations. There are challenges in working with historical materials, including their voluminous nature and deteriorating condition. As our methods and skills mature, we hold out hope that improvements in optical character recognition and machine learning will ease the digitization and ingestion of massive amounts of World War II war crimes documents.
Data and Visualization Exhibit

The Forgotten Soldiers: Prisoners of the Japanese during World War II in Asia and the Pacific

The passage of three quarters of a century since the end of World War II notwithstanding, heroism of the generation of soldiers who fought the war continues to inspire many. Bravery and fortitude of the service men and women did not manifest in the heat of combat alone but also in the dread of starvation, disease, mistreatment, and forced labor in the case of some 252,000 Allied military personnel who became prisoners of the Japanese.
Forgotten Soldiers Exhibit

Documenting Japanese War Crimes at Tokyo: The International Military Tribunal for the Far East, 1946-1948

Documenting Japanese War Crimes at Tokyo was the first project to pilot some of WCDI’s ideas. It is an interactive map, using ArcGIS Online, showing the shifting geographical distribution and patterns of war crimes committed by members of the Japanese armed forces as documented by the prosecution during the trial of major Japanese war criminals at the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE, 1946-1948).

Tokyo Trial War Crimes Map

Mapping POW Camps in Japan during World War II

This set of GIS data layers uses a small sample of historical data to visualize the intersection of war and war crimes across time and space. They reveal information on (1) transportation of prisoners of war from outlying areas in the Pacific theater to the Japanese home islands, (2) locations of Japanese industrial enterprises that used prisoners of war for forced labor, and (3) changing geographical distribution of prisoner-of-war camps in Japan in the last year of the war.
POW Camp Locations

Graphing POW Camp Mistreatment in Wartime Japan

This graph database is a pilot project to help illuminate the connections and relationships among seemingly discrete war crimes trials that the Allied authorities held in Asia and the Pacific following the end of World War II. More than 2,240 trials took place involving some 5,700 suspected war criminals as accused at 51 separate locations in the former theaters of war. This pilot focuses on 235 cases concerning the Japanese mistreatment of Allied prisoners of war in wartime Japan, as had been made at the U.S. Army’s military commission at Yokohama (1946-1949).

Graph of POW Camp Mistreatment