Long after the Tokyo trial, the Indian judge retains a place of honor in the political memory of Japan

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Fifth of 6 parts

Among postwar Japanese political leaders and thinkers, many have long considered Judge Radhabinod Pal an icon. Indeed, he remained a touchstone of the culture wars surrounding the Tokyo trial.

While debate is still open as to why the US and Britain appointed Justice Pal, elements in the US were known to have strong sympathy for the anti-colonial struggle taking place in India at that time.

General Douglas MacArthur attributed Pal’s appointment to the fact that the US State Department changed its mind at the time. He observed that US diplomats thought it was prudent to address the stark diversity imbalance by adding a few more Asian judges while building out the court’s slate of judges. And, so, the Allied Powers added one judge each from India and the Philippines.

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Justice Radhabinod Pal, Photo from the collection of Judge Bert Röling at the National Archives of the Netherlands.

In Indian memory

Justice Pal is known in India across his political spectrum till this day for his opinion, his role and his final decision, in which he captured that momentous moment in history which is engraved with his name. India’s former foreign minister during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first term, the late Sushma Swaraj, captured this story when she addressed the Indian community in Japan during her visit in March 2018.

Swaraj referred to the historical ties that Japan shared with India and said that at that time the modes of communication to distant lands were limited and not so accessible. Despite these constraints, people traveled from Japan to India and vice versa.

In his speech in Tokyo, Swaraj recalled three Indian names that automatically crossed his mind when thinking of Japan and India. They were Justice Radhabinod Pal, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and Rash Behari Bose. “To this day, the Japanese have immense respect for these three figures in Indian history,” Swaraj said.

Leaders exchanging parliamentary remarks

Subsequently, during a visit to India in August 2007, Shinzo Abe, the former Japanese Prime Minister ー and the first prime minister to be born after World War II ー paid tribute to Judge Pal when he was addressed to the Parliament of India in 2007. He said, “Judge Pal is highly respected even today by many Japanese people for the noble spirit of courage he displayed at the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. “

Subsequently, Abe traveled to the eastern city of India, Calcutta, to meet Pal’s octogenarian son, Prasanta Pal. It was a meeting to honor the latter’s father, whom Japan continues to remember and honor.

At the meeting, Pal showed Abe a picture of his father with Abe’s grandfather, former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi, during a visit to Japan in 1966. Kishi is said to have greatly admired Judge Pal. In response, Abe acknowledged, “Your father is still respected by many in Japan.”

Earlier, in December 2006, former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh gave a speech to the Japanese Diet. He was referring to Judge Radhabinod Pal’s “principle judgment” after the war that is still remembered today in Japan.

Singh said the events reflected the depth of India’s friendship with Japan and the fact that the two nations had supported each other at critical times in their history. He also pointed to when India signed a separate peace treaty with Japan in 1952 in which all war claims against Japan were dropped.

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Judge Radhabinod Pal

Peace between India and Japan

Consideration for Japan by independent India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, became known when he overturned the advice of his sister, Vijayalakshmi Pandit, then India’s Ambassador to the United States, and Girja Shankar Bajpai, Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Business.

Nehru refused to sign the US-sponsored peace treaty with Japan. Instead, India went ahead and signed a separate peace treaty with Japan on June 9, 1952. Nehru felt that this offered Japan a position of honor and equality within the community of free nations. Through this peace treaty, India waived any claim for reparation against Japan.

Standing next to each other

In April 2005, Prime Minister Singh highlighted the relationship in his remarks at a banquet in New Delhi honoring then-visiting Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. Stating that although India and Japan have gone through different phases in their relationship, Singh noted that in times of difficulty, the two nations have supported each other.

Importantly, Singh recalled that India refused to attend the San Francisco Peace Conference in 1951 and signed a separate peace treaty with Japan in 1952. Singh again pointed out that the dissenting judgment of the judge Radhabinod Pal was well known to the Japanese people and would always symbolize the affection and respect Indians had for Japan.

Next: Continuing Echoes of Justice Pal

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Author: Monika Chansoria

The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of any organization with which the author is affiliated. She tweets @MonikaChansoria. Find more articles from Dr. Chansoria here on JAPAN Striker.

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