Bix on Judge Radhabinod Pal

The Indian appointee to the [Tokyo war crimes] court was sixty-year-old Radhabinod Pal of the High Court of Calcutta. Pal had been a supporter of the pro-Axis Indian nationalist, Chandra Bose, and a longtime Japanophile. Unlike most Indian elites, who condemned both British and Japanese imperialism and never embraced the ideology of the Greater East Asia Coprosperity Sphere, Pal was an outright apologist for Japanese imperialism. Arriving in Tokyo in May, he accepted his appointment under the charter in bad faith, not believing in the right of the Allies to try Japan, let alone judicially sanction it any way. Determined to see the tribunal fail from the outset, Pal intended to write a separate dissenting opinion no matter what the other judges ruled. Not surprisingly he refused to sign a “joint affirmation to administer justice fairly.”

Thereafter, according to the estimate of defense lawyer Owen Cunningham, Pal absented himself for 109 of 466 “judge days,” or more than twice the number of the next highest absentee, the president of the tribunal, Sir William Webb himself (53 “judge days”). Whenever Pal appeared in court, he unfailingly bowed to the defendants, whom he regarded as men who had initiated the liberation of Asia. Pal, the most politically independent of the judges, refused to let Allied political concerns and purposes, let alone the charter, influence his judgment in any way. He would produce the tribunal’s most emotionally charged, political judgment. Many who repudiate the Tokyo trial while clinging to the wartime propaganda view of the “War of Greater East Asia,” believed that the main cause of Asian suffering was Western white men–that is, Pal’s “victors.” They would cite Pal’s arguments approvingly. So too would others who saw the war primarily in terms of the “white” exploitation of Asia.

SOURCE: Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan, by Herbert P. Bix (HarperCollins, 2000), pp. 595-596


Filed under India, Japan, war

4 responses to “Bix on Judge Radhabinod Pal

  1. No wonder the USA will not join the international criminal court. “Fair and balanced” [judges] like this guy from India prove that decision correct.

  2. Japan and Germany would also seem to have reason to be a little dubious about ICC justice as well.

  3. shekharc

    I think Pal was the only one who had a bit of experience of international rules and regulations. Most of the other judges were either from a military background with zero experience of such hearings or they were unable to understand either Japanese or English languages. What Pal did was a milestone and he does deserve the respect what he is getting (at least in non-western world).

  4. FOK

    Pal obviously was the only courageous lawyer – surrounded by servile “court judges” of Americas grace. He saw through the imperialistic intentions of Roosevelt and Truman in the Far East and their disgusting hypocrisy. No wonder that the publication of Pals judgement documents was prohibited by the American occupation forces. They were afraid. Fortunately the influence of this “Superpower”, which killed more than 20 million human beings in countless wars and military interventions since 1945, is declining now.

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