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Inauthentic Sovereignty: Law and Legal Institutions in Manchukuo

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 July 2010

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Although Manchukuo is easily dismissed as a puppet of Japan, at the time of its founding, it was one of many examples of a partially sovereign state. Specific compromises of Manchukuo's sovereignty shaped the formation of its domestic institutions, such as the legal sphere, in tangible ways. Manchukuo handed over to Japan the power to staff and ideologically mold its judiciary, while the tutelary attitude that Japan took toward the state was concretely manifested in aspects of Manchukuo penal and civil law, and a surprisingly contentious path to the abrogation of Japanese extraterritoriality. With the outbreak of war, Manchukuo effectively surrendered its national sovereignty to the needs of the Japanese empire, sacrificing its jurisdictional integrity as well. While not denying the deliberate attempt made by Japan to misrepresent the independence of Manchukuo, this article also seeks to understand more precisely how Manchukuo's architects assumed certain limits to state sovereignty, and how this understanding systematically crippled the new state's legal institutions.

Research Article
Copyright © The Association for Asian Studies, Inc. 2010

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