Friday, February 24, 2006

CFP: Crime, Law and Order in the Japanese Empire, 1895-1945

February 23, 2006

CFP: Crime, Law and Order in the Japanese Empire, 1895-1945,
Netherlands, Sept 2006
From: Robert Cribb <>


With the acquisition of Taiwan in 1895, Japan began to construct a new imperial-colonial order in East Asia. Whereas Japan's earlier territorial acquisitions - Hokkaido and Okinawa - had been relatively small territories earmarked for full integration into the Japanese polity, the series of territories acquired from 1895 - Taiwan, Korea, Manchuria, parts of China, and much of Southeast Asia - were treated as colonies and client states. They were not politically integrated into the Japanese homeland, they were imagined as having a subordinate economic relationship to Japan, and they were governed under very different legal regimes.

Different laws were in force in Japan's imperial possessions and client states and the imperatives of colonial rule led Japan into a complicated system of classifying its subjects according to race, nationality and residence in order to make legal distinctions between them. As in Western colonies, penalties were often harsher than in the homeland, the distinction between administrative and judicial authority was less sharp and legal procedures were more summary, giving fewer rights to those accused of crimes.

The crimes which Japanese authorities attempted to prevent and punish in its empire of course bore some resemblance to crimes they faced at home. Banditry, rebellion, economic and political indiscipline, and sabotage occurred in Japan itself as well as in the empire. All rulers, too, face the challenge of guaranteeing security of person and property to subjects who are expected to make a significant economic and political contribution to the national cause. The problem of defining policing and punishing crime in the Japanese empire, however, was enormously complicated by the cultural differences between the Japanese and their subjects, by problems of distance and inadequate human and institutional resources in Japan's far-flung possessions and by political ambiguities. Competing models of integration and exclusion in Japan's imperial ideology, together with the changing practical demands of the East Asian war, conspired against any coherence in Japanese legal policy in the empire. These uncertainties afflicted Japanese subjects still more strongly, especially in the context of uncertainty over whether Japan would succeed militarily in the long term.

The Netherlands Institute for War Documentation will host a workshop on 'Crime, law and order in the Japanese empire' 14-15 September 2006. A core group of researchers has agreed to contribute to the workshop and we now extend a more general invitation for proposals of papers. Topics to be considered include:
* Banditry
* Police forces
* Race and nationality in the identification of crime
* Systems and practices of punishment
* The contrast between black letter law and legal practice
* Crime as resistance
* Crime as a consequence of economic conditions
* Corruption
* Urban and rural patterns of crime
* The impunity of power holders
* Problems in the administration of criminal law in the transition
to and from Japanese rule.

Please note that the workshop is not primarily about the issue of war crimes, though papers touching on that issue in the context set out above would be of interest.

Further enquiries to Proposals, including paper title, an abstract of ca 300 words, and contact details of the presenter should be sent to before 25 March 2006. Full papers are due by 15 August 2006. It is expected that a selection of papers from the workshop will be published in an edited volume.

Robert Cribb
Australian National University



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