Date: 31 October 2016
The histories of war crimes tribunals often revolve around a familiar set of defendants: military and sometimes civilian leaders, officers of various ranks, ordinary soldiers and civilians in military employ. Interpreters, however, represent one group of convicts whose experiences and roles in military tribunals have been largely unstudied. Research into the fates of Japanese and other East Asian interpreter-convicts at various Class B/C war crimes trials against the Japanese following the World War II could broaden our understanding of the multinational, multi-layered processes of bringing to justice the agents of Japanese Empire.
Dr Kayoko Takeda, a Professor of Translation and Interpreting Studies in the College of Intercultural Communication at Rikkyo University in Tokyo, has long studied the role of translators and interpreters in history. In a research seminar with the ERC Project Team and other members of the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Dr Takeda talked about tribunals that brought Japanese interpreters into the courtroom not only in the capacity of linguistic mediators between defendants and the prosecution, but very often as defendants themselves. Locating this phenomenon in the broader international framework of military tribunals, Dr Takeda presented her analysis of the complicated business of establishing order and justice in post-imperial East Asia. The guest talk was followed by a lively discussion and a dinner with the guest speaker.