Copies of Truth: The Rise and Fall of Machine Stenography in the Postwar Japanese Courtroom
Building 200, Room 307
This presentation examines the introduction of a new filing system in the Japanese Prosecutor’s Office in the aftermath of WWII, from the late 1940s to the early 1950s. At this time Taylor’s “scientific management” and Weberian visions of bureaucratic rationality in general expanded into public administrative offices as part of the reforms pushed both by the American Occupation and by indigenous Japanese stakeholders. MacArthur’s General Headquarters (GHQ) had targeted the Prosecutor’s Office as a prime abuser of state power through what GHQ characterized as “secret inquisitions.” The installation of a “rational” filing system in the Prosecutor’s Office was meant both to signal the new and democratic criminal justice system, and to foster transparency, reliability and accountability in actual practice. The new Japanese constitution incorporated the American framework of guarantees of equality before the law and due process, including the right to receive a “speedy trial.” This presentation will examine how the constitutional imperatives were translated into practices of paperwork rooted in scientific management and the goal of bureaucratic efficiency.