NYT on Judge Pal

NORIMITSU ONISHI “Decades After War Trials, Japan Still Honors a Dissenting Judge” http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/31/world/asia/31memo.html


It was not clear why the British and American authorities selected Judge Pal, who had served in Calcutta’s high court and strongly sympathized with the anticolonial struggle in India. As an Asian nationalist, he saw things very differently from the other judges.

In colonizing parts of Asia, Japan had merely aped the Western powers, he said. He rejected the charges of crimes against peace and humanity as ex post facto laws, and wrote in a long dissent that they were a “sham employment of legal process for the satisfaction of a thirst for revenge.” While he fully acknowledged Japan’s war atrocities — including the Nanjing massacre — he said they were covered in the Class B and Class C trials.


Casting subtleties aside, postwar politicians invited Judge Pal to Japan several times and showered him with honors. One of his strongest backers was Nobusuke Kishi, a prime minister in the late 1950s who had been a Class A war criminal suspect but was never charged. Kishi is Mr. Abe’s grandfather and political role model.

“For us, we were extremely grateful for Judge Pal’s presence — there was no other foreigner who said so clearly that Japan wasn’t the only country that had done wrong,” said Hideaki Kase, chairman of the Japan-India Goodwill Association, an organization founded in part because of Judge Pal’s legacy.

But Mr. Kase, who once served as an adviser to Yasuhiro Nakasone, the former prime minister, said that he disagreed with certain parts of Judge Pal’s conclusions, including his acknowledgment of the Nanjing massacre. Describing the massacre as a “complete lie,” Mr. Kase said that Judge Pal had fallen victim to “Chinese and Allied propaganda.”


In many ways, Judge Pal seemed to share the mixed feelings that many Indian anticolonialists had of Japan. As an Asian nation competing with the Western powers, Japan inspired admiration, but also consternation for its colonization of Asia, said Sugata Bose, a historian of South Asia at Harvard.

Mr. Bose said his great-uncle Subhash Chandra Bose, the Indian independence movement leader, criticized Japan’s invasion of China but allied himself with Japan against the British.