ibnlive » India

Aug 22, 2007 at 11:47pm IST

Kolkata, a trip down memory lane for Japanese PM

New Delhi: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is using his India visit to speak about the future. But when he visits Kolkata on Thursday, he might take a trip down memory lane.

The past is connected to Prashantha Pal's father, Radhabinod Pal, who, 62 years ago, was part of the International Military Tribunal set up to judge Japanese war criminals after World War II. It is Radhabinod Pal's family that Abe will visit.

"In Kolkota there are, obviously, three men who are very much recognised by the Japanese people up till now. One Rabindranath Tagore, second Subhash Chandra Bose and third my father," says Prashantha Pal.

Justice Pal was the only dissenting voice in the 11 member panel, calling the verdict "a judgment of the vanquished by the victors".

Justice Pal is remembered in Tokyo at the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, seen by many as a symbol of Japan's wartime aggression.

"Several students in Japan, while returning or going to school, recognised my father and shook hands with him. He was loved," says Pal.

Japanese Premier Abe has deeply personal reasons for visiting Justice Pal's family. Abe's own grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, was imprisoned as a suspected war criminal, though he was never tried by the tribunal. He later became Japan's Prime Minister.

Justice Pal is remembered by the Japanese as a sympathetic voice, at a time when the nation was paying the penalty of war.

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