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George Yamaoka Collection

Identifier: MSS-012


The George Yamaoka Collection includes Proceeding Transcripts, Defense documents, indexes, Proceedings in Chambers transcripts, correspondence, exhibits and rejected exhibits from the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal produced and handled by the Defense Team. The collection also includes bound Congressional Hearings on the attack on Pearl Harbor. A few of George Yamaoka’s personal correspondence files are included. Some of the Defense and other materials are in Japanese.


  • 1945 - 1948


Language Note

Only documents in English are searchable. Japanese documents have not gone through the optical character recognition process and will need to be searched manually.


There are no restrictions on access to the papers directly related to the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal. However, the two boxes containing George Yamaoka's personal correspondence are not available in digital format and are restricted. Please contact Hannah Miller-Kim, Special Collections Librarian, at or (202) 661-6602 regarding access options.


All rights reserved by Georgetown University Law Library unless otherwise noted.

Historical Note

George Yamaoka (L’1928), was one of a select group of American Attorneys appointed by General MacArthur in 1945 to help in the defense of those Japanese accused of war crimes. Mr. Yamaoka was the first Japanese-American to be admitted to the New York State Bar, and was a prominent New York attorney. He was president of the Japanese American Association of New York and donated his papers to the Law Library in 1981, the same year he died.

The George Yamaoka Collection contains valuable material related to the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal. As an appointed legal representative for the Japanese defendants after World War II, Mr. Yamaoka was part of one of the first instances of legal ramifications for human rights violations. The tribunal set a precedent for international law. The events documented in this collection have direct influence over how major world human rights atrocities are handled today.


47.4 linear feet (52 archival document boxes)


This collection is arranged into seven series as listed below. Series I – Proceeding Transcripts (Boxes 1-21) Series II – Defense Documents (Boxes 22-35) Series III- Indexes (Box 36) Series III A – Proceedings in Chambers (Boxes 37-38) Series IV- Exhibits (Boxes 39-47) Series V- Congressional Hearings (Boxes 48-49) Series VI- Japanese Documents (Box 50) Series VII- George Yamaoka’s Personal Files (closed Boxes 51-52)

The collection is arranged into seven series as listed below

  1. Series I - Proceeding Transcripts (Boexes 1-21)
  2. Series II - Defense Documents (Boxes 22-35)
  3. Series III - Indexes (Box 36)
  4. Series III A - Proceedings in Chambers (Boxes 37-38)
  5. Series IV - Exhibits (Boxes 39-47)
  6. Series V - Congressional Hearings (48-49)
  7. Series VI - Japanese Documents (Box 50)
  8. Series VII - George Yamaoka's Personal Files (closed Boxes 51-52)

Related Collections

The George Yamaoka Collection complements the John G. Brannon Papers, as both men were appointed for the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal. The Brannon Papers contain mostly correspondence from John G. Brannon to his brother Bernard Brannon, during his time in Toyko, Japan from 1945 to1949. Brannon’s correspondence gives a candid portrayal of Truman politics, the defense of Japanese war criminals, life in Japan, and the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal. The papers provide context for the collection.

The Edward J. Murphy Jr. Papers also provide valuable insight into the world of the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal. The papers, dated from 1947 to 1951, contain United States Army Judge Advocate General Corps (JAG) court filings, memoranda, and other documents. These papers document World War II war crimes trials, and subsequent law suits challenging the convictions and sentences of German and Japanese military members. The papers come from the files of Edward J. Murphy, Jr., who served as a staff JAG attorney of the Army JAG War Crimes Division and Department of Defense Committee on War Crimes.

After the ravages of two world wars, practitioners of international law—as expressed through international institutions and the United Nations legal order—sought to fortify human rights and bring peace through a uniform legal process. Without question the phenomenon of the Nuremberg process and the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal were unprecedented departures from reparations and retributive victor’s justice following a war of aggression, and it represented the opening chapter of the story of international civil and political rights.

Languages of the Collection

English, Japanese.

Finding Aid to the George Yamaoka Collection (Coll. 12)
Hannah T. Miller and DJ, initial processing 1988 by Laura A. Bedard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts Repository

Georgetown University Law Library
111 G. Street NW
Washington D.C. 20001