‘The Taiwanese Roots of East Asia’s War Litigation Movement: An Alternate Genealogy’

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Professor Timothy Webster (Western New England University) will be discussing his draft paper, ‘The Taiwanese Roots of East Asia’s War Litigation Movement: An Alternate Genealogy’, with Professor Rana Mitter (University of Oxford). The discussion will be followed by Q&As. All welcome.

Conventional wisdom pinpoints the origins of East Asia’s World War II compensation movement in 1990, with the emergence of the ‘comfort women’ issue and the profusion of transnational litigation.  This Article challenges that narrative by excavating a series of lawsuits, filed by Taiwanese citizens in Japanese courts, from the 1970s.  It offers the first English-language account of the activists, scholars, lawyers and plaintiffs who used civil litigation to seek compensation from Japan for war-era wrongs, a practice that continues into the present, and across the Pacific.  By examining activists’ newsletters, plaintiffs’ testimony, judicial opinions and scholarly accounts, this Article fills a gap in current discussions of war compensation, transitional justice and transnational human rights litigation.  After tracing the formation of the transnational activists that filed, archived and propagandized the lawsuits in the 1970s, this Article critically assesses the Taiwanese jurisprudence.  It then links the sociological and legal developments of the 1970s to the compensation movement unfolding in the present.

Timothy Webster, Professor of Law, Western New England University, teaches International and Comparative Law. He began his academic career as a lecturer at Yale Law School, and senior fellow at Yale’s China Center.  He then joined Case Western Reserve, where he was a professor, director of Asian Legal Studies, and co-founder of the Joint Program in International Commercial Law and Dispute Resolution with a Chinese law school.  Webster writes about the interactions between international law and the domestic legal systems of East Asia, from international trade and foreign investment to transnational human rights litigation.  His latest work, on East Asia’s World War II reparations movement, appears in the VirginiaHarvardN.Y.U. and Stanford Journals of International Law. Webster chairs or has chaired interest groups for the American Society of International Law, American Association of Law Schools, Asian Society of International Law, and the American Society of Comparative Law, where he currently serves on the Executive Committee.

To request a copy of the paper in advance, please contact information@chinese.ox.ac.uk

Co-sponsored by the Oxford Programme in Asian Laws